Look for Opportunities to Change

resistance to change demonstrated by the unchanging shape of light bulbs from Edison to current LED bulbs

Do you ever ask yourself, "Why do I do this {whatever} this way?" You should. I know … "Question Everything" sounds like a bumper sticker, but you should be concerned that you may be missing out on opportunities by simply never assessing how you operate.

Let's use the light bulb as an example. Pictured above, from left to right, is Edison's light bulb, an incandescent light bulb similar to what was universally used for many decades, a compact fluorescent bulb that first came to market a couple decades ago and is still in use, and finally, an LED bulb that is the new greatest thing. Notice anything about the group photo? They all generally look the same. The mechanics of modern lighting are significantly different from the problems Edison solved with his round globe of blown glass, but manufacturers are afraid to stray too far from what consumers recognize as a "light bulb." Some LED lighting manufacturers have explored other formats – I have lit a few areas of my house with LED tape – but I predict that regardless of the technology, the most popular shape for lights for many years to come will still look like Edison's bulb.

Here's another historical example of the resistance to change. When horses were the prominent foundation for transportation—used for riding or for drawing vehicles like carriages and buggies—homes had barns or carriage houses that were set apart from the house for sanitation reasons. At the turn of the 20th century, self-propelled automobiles began to catch on. By 1906, The Ford Motor Company was selling affordable automobiles to the masses. Where did these early adopters store their autos? In carriage houses. In May 1917, Country Life magazine ran an article that suggested that since the auto didn't suffer the sanitary issues of horses, the garage should be attached to the main house. However, the attached garage didn't gain traction until after WWII, nearly two generations after the idea was suggested. (source: 2002 University of Georgia Master’s thesis The Garage: Its History and Preservation by Jonathan E. Sager)

Here is how these examples can be applied to your business. It is highly likely that there are processes within your business that you have not re-evaluated in years. Maybe you use Excel spreadsheets as if they are databases (they are not!). Maybe your customers have no access to their order history or accounting. I know people who still use legal pads and pencils. Yes, I know that a pencil is just as capable of creating written words today as it was a hundred years ago. The problem is not that the pencil has lost its abilities. The problem is that there are better, more efficient, and more powerful solutions available – and your competitors are using them. That is the biggest risk of not staying current. While you continue to do what you have always done, your competitors are doing more.

Take time to re-evaluate your business. If you bought your business or took it over from a parent, you may have inheirited processes that are no longer competitive. Even if you started your business, things may have changed since you first decided how to operate. If it is your job is to make the company you work for more efficient and more competitive, periodic re-evaluation is an absolute necessity. Inviting change works at all levels within a company.

Change can be scary, but avoiding change can be devastating. Don't ignore the possibility that the only reason you do what you do is because that's how you've always done it.

Dialogs can help you assess the operation of your business. We can show you your competitors' advantages and help you regain your competitive edge. Call us today at 800-707-0106 x:123 or use our contact us form.

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