Some of you may recognise the title of this blog from the 1990 hit song ‘More Than Words’, by American band, Extreme. A great song, and it introduced the amazing talents (and hair) of lead singer, and Gary Cherone and guitarist, Nuno Bettencourt, to the world.

However, 27 years’ later, I’m increasingly finding that it is also a rather apt response to the news reports I so often see in both trade and national press about some companies and their platitude-drenched corporate announcements regarding their future plans. 

It’s not that I doubt the desire or the ambition of companies to ‘disrupt’, ‘transform the business’, ‘become more agile’, ‘focus on cutting edge innovation’ become a ‘beacon for the industry’ and so on (I could go on). But, I do wonder how many of these announcements are just words intended to appeal to investors and stakeholders and how many are based on more than words – in other… ahem… words, how many have made the fundamental changes necessary to put the business in a position to achieve these lofty ambitions?

Companies that have followed a certain commercial trajectory for years have a particular ingrained culture, approach and way of thinking and doing associated with that trajectory. This has often fermented over several years and permeated throughout the company, from senior management down. This doesn’t change overnight and requires a wholesale commitment and drive from the very top of the organisation to get all those in the company ‘thinking and doing’ things differently – more creatively, strategically and with more genuine agility to ensure it can develop the new processes, products and performance required to disrupt, transform or innovate.  

The belief that this can be achieved largely by CEO dictate alone is naïve, simplistic and foolish. Big ships take a lot of effort to turn.  It’s not a task to undertake lightly.

I commend those who have the foresight to take the bold decision to transform their businesses and who then, critically, have the courage and tenacity to constantly drive it and invest in the considerable strategic and creative assets required to make it happen. Those who have the vision, commit the resource and hold the faith will succeed, because as the song says more than words is all you have to do to make it real.