Understand First, Then Make Changes

By Stacy Cornay for the Times-Call
Publish Date: 12/01/2013

We were carefully bagging Thanksgiving turkey remains for sandwiches when Dad rocked my world.

“How about ham for Christmas?” He queried.

What!

I can't stand ham. Everyone – especially my parents – knows that ham ranks far below nowhere on my holiday menu. The only good ham is bacon. To even mention ham on Thanksgiving was a blasphemy against turkeys everywhere. The specter of ham for Christmas momentarily took the thanks out of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving kicked off the holiday season. It's not only a time to be thankful for our family, friends and health, it's also a time to look ahead. It's a time for making lists and to start putting up Christmas decorations in the Cornay house. It's also a time of change, when we look back at what was and ahead to what may be. But abrupt changes that ignore tradition may stir feelings of angst, fear, resentment and abandonment.

That's especially true in business.

We're on the brink of a new year. Businesses should be well along with plans to spruce things up in 2014, to try new ideas, to offer new products and services and to make changes. Failing to make changes to keep abreast of the times is a mortal sin. So, too, is making changes solely for the sake of change. Everyone remembers Coca-Cola's bright idea of changing its formula. How'd that work out for Coke sales?

Before shaking things up, business people should ask and candidly answer some basic questions: Do your customers and clients want or need change? How will current customers/clients benefit from your changes? Will changes attract new business? Do the benefits outweigh risks? Do the changes hold true to the way you do business or will they take you far off course?

Most businesses have a mission statement. Some keep it close at hand to ensure that products and services are aligned with stated goals. When changes are made, they are made to advance defined goals. Some businesses haven't gotten around to developing a mission statement or if they have, it has been filed away or forgotten. Owners profess to have “a feel” for what they're about and where they're going next. They're standing on a slippery slope.

Without defined goals , it's hard for any business to know where it should go next and what it will look like if or when it gets there. Having goals in mind isn't enough. In this competitive economy, goals need to be dusted off and reviewed regularly. Old goals may no longer be relevant. Current thinking may not mesh with dated goals. New goals should replace goals that have been achieved.

Successfully implementing change in business doesn't just happen. It is predicated on planning, introspection and knowing who you are. It is predicated on understanding your strengths, your weaknesses, your target audiences and how best to reach them. It is predicated on knowing where you stand today and having a clear sense of where you want to be not only next year, but in all the business years to come.

With that understanding and a renewed sense of purpose, any business is well-positioned to implement beneficial changes, changes made for valid reasons, changes that reinforce the loyalty of current customers/clients while reaching and attracting new ones, changes that will make 2014 a truly happy new year.

When Dad dropped his bombshell about ham on the table for Christmas, he was suggesting change for the sake of change. He didn't understand the underlying dynamics of his proposed change. Mom does.

We're having turkey for Christmas.


Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
Visit www.comm-concepts.com or call 303-651-6612.