I spent some time last week working with a client in Calgary. I have made several trips to Calgary as of late and I am noticing a shift in the enthusiasm of business owners, particularly those who support the oil and gas industry. Of those with whom I have spoken, many are concerned about the impact of the new oil reserves in the United States and what impact this might have on Canada as we export a significant portion of our oil to our closest neighbor.
You know, it is virtually impossible to avoid change in today's market. Just ask those that manage stocks for a living. There is no such thing as a "safe" investment anymore. Think about how this has impacted us personally. If you rushed out to buy a blue ray disc player, you're likely considering NetFlix right about now; if you were the first to purchase an iPad, it’s likely that the new iPad mini is beginning to look appealing.
Some of my best clients are those who consistently anticipate change. In fact, many of them actually seek out change in an attempt to create a competitive advantage. Here are some of the questions they consider to help them stay at the bleeding edge of change:
- What would happen if your largest or most significant client disappeared?
- What if your regional, national or international sales opportunities dried up overnight?
- What would happen if your customers demanded online order capabilities?
- What would happen if your star employee(s) left?
- How would you respond to a tax audit?
- How would you adapt to a transformation of the technology that supports your business?
- How would you adapt to a new, larger competitor entered your marketplace?
When considering these questions, I want to suggest to you that in order to effectively manage change you need to consistently employ the Three "A's" of Change.
- Acknowledge that change is a constant; that initiating change is a more manageable approach than reacting to change that we are dealt.
- Absolve to identify and respond to change as quickly and effectively as possible. Procrastination is a killer when it comes to finding a means to manage change.
- Adapt quickly to change, whether it is dealt to you, or self initiated. Developing an attitude and in turn a culture that adapts quickly to change is the foundation for creating competitive advantage.
The only thing that we can reasonably predict today is that something will change tomorrow. It's not a matter of when change will impact me, but how it will impact me. So how will you manage the next change that arises? Will you acknowledge, absolve and adapt, or simply react and respond? Which sounds like a more proactive approach to you?