We’ve all heard the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
There’s a lot of wisdom in that. When you’ve implemented an efficient plan (i.e. a quick month-end close, financial processes that keep good data in front of you, etc.) it’s a good idea not to mess with it – to a point. But it’s never good to permanently rest in a routine that isn’t reviewed regularly. It’s then that we fall into a rut, otherwise known as a casket without a top.
And forgive the pun, but if you are not growing, you are dying. Growing requires the willingness to change.
I am working with several new clients who are making changes in their business. Change isn’t easy, but it is necessary to improve. It’s been good to see some of the positive outcomes from this process.
As I mentioned in a previous post, assessing your business regularly and recognizing the need to change is step one. Even if things are going well, the waterline is rising, and things can always be better. We need to continuously deal with any leaks, including new ones that may spring up.
So how do we do this?
I suggest a shift of mindset, based on a fabulous book I read many years ago: If it Ain’t Broke…Break It!: And Other Unconventional Wisdom for a Changing Business World by Robert F. Kriegel and Louis Palter. Their advice shared in the early ’90s is timeless. We must have a mindset toward embracing change, innovation, and continuous improvement as keys to success in both personal and professional life.
Here are some key thoughts from the book, along with a question you can ask yourself in assessing how your business and team are doing when it comes to each theme:
1. Embrace Change: it’s important to be open to change rather than cling to established norms or practices. Change can lead to improvement and growth.
Question: What change in process did we recently implement or consider as a way to improve our productivity?
2. Innovation is Key: Innovation is significant in driving progress and success. When you encourage a culture of innovation, you’ll see breakthroughs and competitive advantages.
Question: Does my team feel comfortable bringing me new ideas?
3. Challenge Conventions: Rather than accept that “This is how it’s always been done,” encourage questioning and challenge conventional wisdom.
Question: What is something we have been doing for years that we should consider changing or eliminating from our processes or policies?
4. Risk-Taking: calculated risks are essential for growth and advancement. Rather than fearing failure, consider it a valuable learning experience.
Question: When did we take a risk in the last 3-12 months? If we haven’t been willing to take a calculated risk, why are we holding back?
5. Continuous Improvement: Individuals and organizations should always seek ways to evolve and enhance their processes and products.
Question: What are three key areas where we are working on improvements in the company? (i.e. personnel, environment, culture)
6. Adaptability: In today’s rapidly changing world, being adaptable is crucial. During the pandemic, we saw a critical need to pivot and adjust to new circumstances and challenges.
Question: While we are not in an active pandemic now, what other concerns threaten our success? How do we need to re-position ourselves to stay relevant?
7. Creativity and Experimentation: encouraging these can lead to new ideas and solutions not considered before.
Question: What is a problem we are experiencing that could use a creative solution? What ideas can we consider for a while without shooting them down immediately?
8. Leadership Role: leaders are the critical component in fostering a culture of innovation and change. They should lead by example, supporting initiatives that promote growth and innovation.
Question: How strong is our leadership team? Do we inspire growth and innovation, or are we stuck in our ways? What would our employees say if guaranteed anonymity?
Some of these questions may be uncomfortable, but I assure you they are important. Culture affects the bottom line. An unhappy, stressed out, unproductive team creates leaks that sink your business success and satisfaction. A team that has the freedom to bring up fresh ideas, evaluate processes objectively, and follow values modeled by their leaders will help create an organization that makes money and contributes positively to society.
Which would you rather have?