When Was the Last Time You Upgraded Your
© 2003 By
It seems that we constantly have to upgrade our computer
software and equipment. We only use our programs and
computers a few months before it makes sense to replace
them. It's not that they're completely obsolete; it's just
that there's usually something much better and often for
only a bit more cost.
Do we treat our business models that way? Not very often. If
we're lucky enough to find a business model that works, we
usually keep on using it--to our detriment--with little
Why should our business be any different than the tools and
equipment we use? It's critical that we make regular changes
that will keep pace with our customers, our competitors and
Business is changing more rapidly than ever before. What
worked last year may not work any longer. Entire industries
are emerging and fading in less than a decade. To be
competitive, we must be able to change with everything else
that's changing around us.
Tweaking and improving what we already have may be
sufficient. But often we need to make more radical changes.
Our business model must sometimes be scrapped and replaced
Some Obstacles It's easier to keep doing what we're doing.
We're all creatures of habit and we have a tendency to dig
holes deeper instead of digging new holes. This keeps us
focused on what we're doing but not necessarily what we're
attempting to accomplish.
We think making a change labels what we WERE doing as wrong.
Our stakeholders expect consistency. They don't like change
any more than we do. And most business leaders are reluctant
to let go of the old way and embrace the new because they
fear being judged as having been doing it wrong.
The staff doesn't like change. The owner or manager who
is willing to lead and affect change often has a tough role
because of a we've-always-done-it-this-way mentality. This
resistance is a serious challenge.
Customers don't ALWAYS know what's best. Listening to our
customers and attempting to fulfill their needs is a
valuable practice. Certainly we need to help our clients
solve problems and overcome challenges. But we can't DEPEND
on our customers for this. If we do, we'll miss many
opportunities to lead the market with products and services
that our customers didn't even know they wanted.
A Few Solutions Embrace change as a good thing and not just
something to be tolerated. As long as we make what we were
doing wrong, we thwart our ability to make good decisions.
When we lock onto the old, we have little ability to welcome
the new. Even a trapeze artist has to let go of one trapeze
in order to catch the next one. Develop the attitude that
we're making an improvement instead of not doing what we did
Nurture a culture of creativity and innovation. A world
class business leader knows that they must create an
environment for creativity. They know they need to always
reward thinking outside of the box. The safety to question
anything and everything is paramount.
Conduct 'What's Not World Class Meetings'. On a regular
basis, small groups and large should be convened to
challenge what's being done, what's not being done and how
it's done. Every aspect of the business must be looked at
with a fresh eye and an open mind. What needs to be
scrapped? What needs to be added?
What no longer serves our customer? Where are we looking
good and where are we looking bad? Establish priorities and
Make a habit of holding these meetings and you'll start to
see real progress. You'll find that the process will
continue even after the formal meeting ends.
Recognize that your biggest expense is the money you DON'T
Every business leaves money on the table. It's our job to
discover ways in which we can maximize all of our revenue.
There's always a way to do this. Pretend your company is
being bought by another corporation--what are some things
they might do to uncover hidden revenues?
Step back and away from your business and your industry.
Critical to creating a world class business is to constantly
gain new perspectives on what you do and how you do it.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "If I had three hours to chop
down trees, I'd spend two hours sharpening my blade." That's
what getting away to conferences, symposiums, classes and
master mind meetings can do for you--sharpen your upgrade
Read, study, listen, explore. Take every chance to expose
yourself to new ideas and be reminded of things you already
know. And don't make it exclusive to your industry. If
you're clear on your mission and your purpose as well as the
major problems you're striving to solve, you'll get ideas
from anywhere and everywhere. Read something unrelated to
your work. Study something dramatically different from what
you normally do. See for yourself how your perspective will
We need to keep what works and change what doesn't. We need
to stay fresh and have a better perspective and yet remain
consistent with the things that support our mission.
Being a business leader requires one to constantly balance
the unchanging principles with strategies that need to be
tweaked and updated. Constant and never-ending improvement
is the watchword of business in the 21st century.
I urge you to look for what systems, models, departments,
processes--and yes, even people--need upgrading.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Copyright Michael Angier. SuccessNet.org and
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