How Much Change Is Good?
Like a ship at sea, a business needs to change in a long, sweeping manner. Short, harsh changes in direction will create havoc. And, like a ship at sea, there needs to be a definite destination, a well thought out plan to get there in a certain time frame and with specific resources.
But, what happens when seas are rough, or when a storm is approaching, or when an engine shuts down? It’s then the captain’s responsibility to crew and passengers, to make necessary changes to ensure objectives are met. Then, when the ship is safely docked, management reviews the events that took place, and takes necessary action to make sure the same problems don’t reoccur. Last, management explores ways to improve performance for long-term benefit, and then develops and executes the strategic and tactical strategy to accomplish objectives at all required intervals, short, mid and long-term.
Change requires a great deal of thought and planning. As does operating a successful business. Right now, several of my franchise clients are being exposed to a lot of different proven methods and processes, that on the surface, appears to be “too much change.” However, system-wide there are multiple areas of weakness. Some are common denominators. Some are different from one store to another. Some have caused drastic reductions in sales. Most are the definitive reason for poor profit margins. So, where do we start to address things that need to be changed? Where should we start? And, at what pace or frequency?
Unfortunately, the economic woes of the past years have compounded the situation. It has caused the deficiencies, usually hidden by acceptable sales levels, to stand out like splitting seams on one’s pants… obvious to the people observing, but not so obvious to the person wearing the pants. Until, that person is instructed to look in the mirror! Using this same analogy, in many instances it’s necessary, and vital for survival, that we look at our entire wardrobe…
The ultimate key is honesty in one’s self. I believe we all know our own limitations and shortcomings. It’s what we do to improve, to change, that makes us better. It’s no different in business. Change what you know needs to be changed. Prioritize changes that make the most immediate impact. Grow into the changes that aren’t urgent. But, do it in the time frame where challenges present themselves, as survival may be dependent upon the same.
In the end, change must be practical, and implemented with common sense. I know I need to lose weight, which is an understatement. So, I need to change my diet, change my activity level, etc. That’s practical common sense, right? But, should I just stop eating!
* This post was originally published on this site October 2010. I believe it is very much appropriate today.