CHANGE IS CONSTANT
Change: noun 1. to make the form, nature, content, or future course of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.
Success in business is determined by a company’s ability to meet the demands of their customers. And, guess what? Their demands and expectations are constantly changing! By extension, this means we must change with our customers or we risk losing their business.
Changing customer expectation can be subtle and sometimes difficult to recognize. For example you may notice an account is off pace compared to the rest of your business. Upon investigation you find the customer has implemented an internal score card for on time deliveries, buying only from suppliers that hit their delivery windows. Since your logistics team had been shipping product by the required ship date, the assumption was everyone was happy. For the customer however, when the product shipped was not important; when it arrived was. Time to change.
Major shifts in customer expectations are much easier to recognize as the communication regarding the change is generally clear and concise; you receive a letter, or updated supplier manual for example highlighting the change. Implementing the changes internally to meet the new demands is pretty straight forward. Make the change or kiss the business goodbye! But what happens when the changes in customer demands are not driven at the customer level, but rather driven by an industry itself? These types of major shifts generally happen over extended periods, and require organizational changes to survive. Those that do not recognize an industry shift simply disappear. A perfect example of this is a company called Kodak. Over the course of several years, digital cameras began replacing the old film and negative systems used up until that point. Kodak refused to embrace the industry shift, and as a result filed for bankruptcy protection in early 2012. Pretty clear correlation; embrace change or die!
The real take away from this is one simple point; change is constant. It is inevitable. Highly successful business leaders are able to look around the corner, see into the future and see change coming. They reposition their businesses. They adapt to the changing business landscape earlier than their competition and gain the tactical advantage. Successful leaders recognize that even small change is difficult and they train their staff to expect and embrace change. They also recognize that some people are simply not capable of change and they remove them from their teams. At the end of the day, successful leaders recognize that change is dynamic and that change keeps them ahead of the competition. Isn’t that what business is all about?