Your Business and the Need for Change

by Ken Mueller on April 16, 2012 · 19 comments

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2012 04 14 12.49.03 300x225 Your Business and the Need for ChangeThis past weekend I had the chance to return to my alma mater, Geneva College, for the first time in about 25 years. I drove out in order to speak to a group of alums and students, and knew that things would be different. But I really wasn’t prepared for what I saw.

First, driving into Beaver Falls, and later going through the heart of the city, I was shocked by how time had seemingly stood still. Everything looked the same, if not a bit more rundown. Some of the businesses (the ones that were still open) hadn’t changed a bit.

But the real change was on the campus. While time stood still in the town, the campus, for the most part, had moved forward, like an oasis in the desert.

The most drastic change was that a major road, Route 18, had been rerouted so that it went around campus, rather than directly through it. This had been talked about when I was a student from 1979-83, but was just completed a few years ago. The winding S-curve that went through campus had been a major hazard, with trucks dumping their loads right in the paths of students on their way to classes or the dining hall. Now, what was once a dangerous intersection was now grass and sidewalks.

Additionally, there are new buildings standing on ground once filled with old houses. But some of the older buildings are still there in all their glory. As I toured the campus, I noticed that while the exterior of the buildings remained the same, parts of the interior had been upgraded.

Change.

For many, it’s a dirty word. Any change with the Facebook interface is usually greeted with the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. But change is necessary, as long as it isn’t change for change sake. We need to move forward and progress.

While the campus at Geneva looked very different to me, I knew there were a few things that hadn’t changed, particularly their core values. Geneva is still committed, even more so, to providing an excellent, world-class liberal arts education. The school is committed to academic excellence.

 

2012 04 14 12.45.05 300x225 Your Business and the Need for Change

You see, the structure may change, the look and feel may change, but at it’s heart, the college is the same.

Any changes we make in our business must be for the purpose of improvement. Offer better products and better service. Offer them in a more timely fashion. Advance in areas of technology that improve your efficiency, as well as the user experience. That kind of change is important, but we still need to hold fast to our core values.

Last year I noticed some changes in how my web host was handling things. I had gone with this company at the recommendation of a friend, based on value and customer service. But last year, while the price remained the same, the product wasn’t quite as good, and the customer service went downhill fast. I soon discovered that they had cut some corners, presumably to save money. Yes, they made changes, but they also gave up on some of their core values, including providing excellent customer service. As a result, they lost me as a customer and my website was moved to a more reliable host.

Sure, when some things change, people might complain. But if the changes truly are for the better, they’ll get used to them. What they won’t get used to is a change for the worse in your core values. If you built your business on quality products, your customers won’t accept cutting corners. If your business is known for great customer service, scaling back will be met with complaints, and possibly a loss of business.

On the other hand, an inability to adapt — a resistance to change — can be lethal. Beaver Falls is a former steel town that has not been able to adapt to the changes in the industry and economy. It was really depressing to drive through the city, and see how run down it has become. I stopped at the radio station where I had my first job after college. Nothing had changed. What was once a vibrant, local radio station in a flourishing community, was now merely a shell of its former self. Yes, it was still there and on the air, but nothing like what I remember. If you don’t change; adapt; update…you’ll be frozen in time while the rest of the world passes you by.

Are you able to adapt to the changes around you? Is your business advancing and changing, while maintaining your core values? How are you moving forward, while staying the same?

 

 Your Business and the Need for Change
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18 comments
SarahandBooks
SarahandBooks

I think most of the students here at Geneva will say that there are still some updates Geneva needs to make: especially in the curriculum. I know some professors have been pushing for a revamp of the Writing program for a year or two now because this program is good at putting out some decent writers, but we have no marketable qualities. In the ever-technology advancing industry, we have no background in html or computer science. I was told that you cannot get a job as a journalist anymore without those skills. 

girlseeksplace
girlseeksplace

I saw this at my alma mater as well. I also received notice last week that one of my favorite professors is retiring, after having been at the school since it opened in 1969. I spent some time there a few years and it's not the same home I came to know and love as a college student. It's good to see the school thriving, but the current students are totally not having the same experience I had and they are missing out in a big way. They aren't having a bad experience, not by any stretch, but that family feeling isn't there anymore.

ashschoen
ashschoen

One of the most significant challenges for people and organizations when change is necessary or impending is the perception that they will be required to sacrifice. Whether they are right or wrong, the perception that they will somehow suffer can be debilitating. Just as we find with technology adaptation there are levels of change acceptance. Understanding what level of willingness and acceptance you or your organization (and more importantly the people in it) are, the more you can prepare for and enjoy a successful change implementation.  

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

You know I love change. But most people are very fearful of it. We don't like to have our routines messed up. We don't like anything new thrown in our path. Last week, I spoke to a group of CEOs and someone in the audience asked me how much time I spend on content creation for Arment Dietrich. I said it's about 15 hours a week. They all nearly died. They couldn't understand how someone running a business can spend that much time. So I asked how much time they each spend going to networking meetings or sales meetings or making cold calls. About 30 hours a week. I asked if they would rather cut that in half and actually close business from their efforts. They really fought me on it. Why? Change sucks.

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

"The only thing constant is change"  I don't know who originally said that, but it is as true today as it was then.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @SarahandBooks Hey Sarah, thanks for stopping by. We always need change, and I feel your pain. In many ways I get the sense that a lot of colleges are struggling to deal with the same thing. That's one of the reasons why Messiah brought me in to create and teach a social media marketing course. I think colleges need to address this issue, not just for business and marketing students, but all disciplines. I often teach in other classes elsewhere to help students learn how important their online presence can be in helping them get that first job.

 

Not so sure about the need for HTML, because I think we're moving beyond that, but you definitely need to focus on your general online presence, and how to use social media to help you in your job. I see a lot of journalists that do that. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @girlseeksplace Yeah, i think I sensed some of that at my Alma Mater as well. Sometimes you can't help that kind of change. We get older, we retire, we move on. Can't stop that from happening!

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

 @ginidietrich So true. You know, I think change is toughest for those who are being successful, but the change could actually make them more successful or ensure their continued success in a changing environment.

 

Speaking of change... I believe you could dedicate 3 of those 15 hours to a customer service blog I know, just to prove you can get Spin Sucks done in 12.  :)

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @ginidietrich I think that's the thing they don't get. A solid social media and online content plan can actually save you time and money. It won't happen overnight, but it works. So many people around here (and probably there) go to all of these networking meetings and chamber mixers and groups and such. That takes a lot of time. And they end up being meat markets; people are only there for the prospects. If you don't do business with them, they don't want to be bothered. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @BestRoofer Well, you probably heard it back in your childhood, from a guy name Heraclitus, who lived around 500 B.C. Was he a neighbor of yours? Just kidding, but yes, that quote is rather old. We need to embrace change, and embrace it properly!

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

 @KenMueller Yeah I remember him.  He always sat around on his front porch, drinking beer and dispersing wisdom!

 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @BestRoofer Oh, and clearly I Googled that. It wasn't just something I knew. I'm not that smart!

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