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BLOG: Staying ahead through embracing change

Von Chan | May 14, 2013
The key to staying ahead of the competition is to embrace change.

I once worked as a consultant with a company which constantly "re-invented" itself. Every few months, management would change the work processes and procedures—the ways how things should be done. Things would settle down for a while, but before long, there would be another round of re-invention again.

Those frequent changes to processes and procedures meant that staff was drowning in getting things done with each subsequent change. The company was so focused on internal processes that staff never had a chance to think, let alone come up with new ideas to delight their customers. As a result, the company never became successful. They struggled along, barely able to keep their heads above water.

Then of course, there is the other extreme: companies that are successful and are too afraid to change. In fact, the very thought of re-invention for Asian companies can be daunting. We value the status quo. However, market conditions change so rapidly that companies cannot afford to continue to do things the way they were, hoping that would ward off competition while increasing productivity without altering their deep-seated processes and procedures.

I believe the key to staying ahead of the competition is to embrace change. The workforce is changing. The way we work is changing. The way we do business is changing and there is need to adapt to these changes so that companies can continue to be innovative and stay ahead.

Having fun is serious business
The workforce is changing. The younger generations of employees have very different expectations. They want work to be not only social and interactive but most importantly, to have fun. Fun at work? It doesn't necessarily mean team lunches and gifts but a part of a wider business strategy to engage and be relevant in today's world.

As our workforce changes, our customer base evolves as well. Businesses want unique experiences through creative ways of engagements. Therefore, we benefit from enjoyable customer interaction with our brand. This can be done through sports and marketing activities such as a musical, enjoying a game of bowling after work and even activities around common interests and hobbies. Conventional ways of talking business may not always work and companies have to re-invent to think out of the box and to engage their customers and partners.

Adopting a startup mentality by listening to what customers really need and adapting products and services to fit them will enable companies to be competitive. We should never be afraid of listening to what customers want and how they perceive our products and services. If we do not adapt quickly to customer needs and what they want, someone else will. A common mistake is to surround ourselves with sycophants and feeling smug about current achievements. We may be here today but gone tomorrow.


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