Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
NEWBY: Move fast - Time is of the essence
alert
Building Main Street, Not Wall Street

NEWBY: Move fast - Time is of the essence

  • Updated
{{featured_button_text}}
John Newby

Today, our column approaches change from the 30,000-foot level. Rachel Gutter said, “Changing the world is always disruptive”. Few understand the truly disruptive nature of change. Disruptive change is usually viewed as unsettling. It is downright disruptive to the average person, who would much prefer certainty and little change as they plod through life. Unfortunately, many companies and communities are ill equipped to cope with major disruption. In fact, most when faced with disruption, change, or trends, tend to double down on the old-fashioned thinking and put up protective walls hoping the disruption will pass them by. In today’s economic and business climate coupled with Covid-19, this is the sure path to irrelevance and destruction.

We are most likely in the most massive and profound economically disruptive period in our lifetime. This disruption isn’t just a city, state or national issue, it is a worldwide issue that is quite unique in human history. In the book, the Tale of Two Cities, it states, “It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” That is so true today. We are struggling with a pandemic which brings revenue declines, shoppers opting to stay home or fear of catching a virus. At the same time, we have un-curtailed vastness of information available to us in seconds. We have the ability to shop from our couch. We have the ability to see friends around the globe in seconds. These two competing realities bring us the “best” and “worst” of times for most individuals, companies and communities.

Fighting and winning against massive economic disruption is not an easy task; few are up to the challenge. Most are surprised to hear that 87% of Fortune 500 companies in 1955 no longer exist today, due in large part to failing to deal with disruptive forces that engulfed them. Today, the disruptive forces that are starting to weigh heavily on communities are just in the beginning stages. The disruption will only intensify. The e-commerce of the Internet will increase, wages will remain challenged. Companies, communities and states will have fewer resources from which to call upon. The list of potential disruptions will continue to mount.

When faced with disruptive forces, what ought communities do? First and foremost, they must recognize the danger they face. One of the biggest reasons those Fortune 500 companies are no longer around is that they remained faithful and clung to their previously successful business models. They failed to take seriously or fully understand the true danger they faced until it was too late.

In order to overcome the disruptive forces, companies and communities must switch from the slow and plodding approaches to transformation and revitalization of their company or community to that of certain and swift action. They must look at the cause of the disruption and determine if they should fight the disruption or if they should marshal the forces of the disruption to their advantage. Both can be very effective. At times a combination of the two approaches could be the answer.

Regardless of the approach, one thing is certain. Doing what has been done in the past is rarely the right approach. In fact, it will be more about not getting it exactly right all the time, but being less wrong than you were before. Change isn’t about being right every time, it is about calculated trying, knowing and accepting that some of the efforts will fail. The trick in failing is to fail quickly, cheaply and move on learning from your mistakes.

Those resistant to change will always be the biggest roadblocks to success. Some just don’t have the DNA of change and will resist to the end. Look for those in your community that lead change. They are the ones that will provide hope. Look for those leaders seeking new paths and directions, they at least understand the severity of the situation. Much like a race against time, the clock that determines the winners and losers in the new economic business climate has already started. If your community hasn’t left the starting blocks, it isn’t too late. But if they are still surveying the track and weighing the pros and cons of the race, they are destined for a last place finish.

As always, balance is still the key, there are many traditional approaches to issues that are certainly still viable options. More often than not, it will be a few of the traditional methods sprinkled in or combined with new approaches that win the day. The message most important to understand is that now is not the time to meander. Now is the time to place the company or community pedal to the metal of change or risk being rendered irrelevant in the future.

John A. Newby, author of the "Building Main Street, Not Wall Street " column assists communities and their local media companies combine synergies allowing them to not just survive, but thrive in a world where truly-local is lost to Amazon, Wall Street chains and others. His email at: john@360MediaAlliance.net.

Concerned about COVID-19?

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alert

Breaking News