Insights

Change shouldn’t make you nervous:  The ECS Guide to “Good Change”

We all know that innovation is absolutely necessary in today’s business climate.  If you’re not looking to improve, get better and yes, actually change – your competitors are passing you by.

In ECS’s history, our team has seen amazing successes (including companies that came out of the brink of bankruptcy to report record growth) – as well as unfortunate failures (in many cases, these were companies that ignored the need to change and spiraled downward – sometimes quickly, and sometimes slowly – on their way out of business).

One of the stories we can share about an unfortunate situation is that of a company that had found a unique niche in the medical manufacturing arena. The founders had built the company from scratch, and now found themselves in their 20th year.  When the company engaged ECS, they were on the downslide and for the first time in two decades were losing money.

After ECS conducted a Fresh Eyes Assessment, it became clear the company was absolutely going to have to make some much-needed change in order to correct the direction of the company and set it on the proper path for prosperity into the future. Unfortunately, the leader chose not to make any of the changes recommended by ECS, and instead chose to “continue their course” with the hope that the growing economy would pull them out of the downward spiral.

Long story short: a miracle did not happen. 12 months later the company was forced to lay off 40 people and sell its assets to cover their accumulated debt.

What happened here is what we see time and time again. Change makes business leaders nervous. They think, what if the change doesn’t workWhat if we failHow do I figure out what change/how much change to undertake?  And we get it. There’s a lot of questions, plus there is a lot at stake.

So our team has put together a guide to help you understand how to actually take action and drive the change – and thus the innovation – you need in your company now.

1. Experience & Methodology:  It all starts here.  When engaging with someone who is going to lead change in your organization, make sure they have the experience AND the methodology to get you to the next level.  One without the other is a recipe for disaster. (And neither? We don’t even want to think about that.)

2. Answer the question, ‘What problem are we trying to solve?’: If you’re attempting change just for change sake, it’s like throwing darts in the dark.  You might get lucky, but we’d bet that most of the time you just hit blank space.  Be sure to understand the root cause of your issue and not just treat a symptom.

3. Change doesn’t mean you throw out the good with the bad:  Be very leery of people who want to completely change the core direction of your company.  There’s a reason your business has gotten to where it is – it was due to a good idea and solid business development.  Don’t throw that away. The best business changes we witness incorporate the good things being done while implementing new ways of solving issues and tackling what lies ahead.

4. Change should go at a pace that works for your company:  Attempting to move too fast and digest too much change can leave you with failure – and can stifle any attempt to innovate in the future.  Build a good plan and execute at the speed that’s right for your company and team. Slow down if necessary. It’s OK.

5. Change doesn’t mean following the latest trend in technology:  Too often we’ll start working with a client that thought buying the coolest new piece of software (ERP, CRM, marketing automation, etc.), was the missing piece of their puzzle. Hint: it never is. Instead, start by looking at your own people and processes internally, and then move to the technology.

We hope that this five-point guide will be helpful to you and your team. And perhaps above all else, remember to stay open-minded when looking to facilitate and encourage change and innovation with in your company.

Another tip: be prepared for setbacks. Failures in parts (or even at times in all) of a plan do happen.  That’s OK if it happens – just pivot and try something new. I can share some of our team’s greatest successes took place after a failed first attempt at specific change. Don’t give up and don’t live in fear; strive to create a company with a team always looking to reach the next level. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Do you have a particular change you are trying to make – and do you need to figure out how to accomplish this goal?  Do you want to discuss how ECS can help you find the next level? Or do you need help driving an initiative in your organization?  Contact us and let’s talk about how we can get there together.  Chris Lee, Managing Partner, clee@thinkempirical.com. Be sure to LinkIn with Chris as well!