This is the beginning of a series of reflections on the book If it ain’t broke…Break It! And other unconventional Wisdom for a changing Business By Robert J Kriegel and Louis Patler. The title of this book immediately drew me in. It contradicted the traditional “If it aint broke don’t fix it.” When I read the title it made me think that it was no longer ok to “play it safe” in the business world. A nostrum that I personally have had for a while.
“Out with the old and in with the new”, an age-old saying has become even more relevant to the business world. My first thought is technology and service, but some would even argue that this idiom refers to people. Society has become infatuated with what is new and what is fast. In order to cater to the new age consumer businesses are having to make major changes. Change doesn’t always feel good. The kind of change that is required to remain competitive involves risk.
The company I work for recently laid off employees and outsourced many of its operations “off-shore.” I work for an insurance firm. I have been fortunate to work with more seasoned agents to see how things were once done. I will not bore you with the specifics but for example there was a time when John would need insurance for his business, his local “insurance guy” would call on him and offer his best price only after assessing John’s business with a fine tooth comb and taking him to lunch, John in turn would be a loyal customer for years and could contact his agent or even drop by the office with any questions or concerns. Fast forward to now. John goes online to find the cheapest insurance quote. His policies come in the mail and if he has any questions he calls a call center out of state and speaks to “the next available customer service representative.”
I was taken by surprise as many were by the sudden layoff because our firm was doing so well and the numbers looked great before the transition. However I have always heard the saying “It is better to be proactive than reactive.” That saying came to mind when I was reading a comment that the Author shared from advice he had received. “The time to change is when you don’t have to” ( Kriegel and Patler 5 ). This same colleague of the author compared the changing business environment to a surfer and the waves. In my own words I summarize the rules of surfing below.
- Passion Rules
- It does not matter if you look the part or have the credentials you will not be successful if you are not passionate and actually do the work.
- No Dare/No Flair
- TAKE RISK
- Expect to wipe out.
- Expect the unexpected. Do not play it safe. You have to know your ideas and efforts will not always be successful.
- Never turn back on your ocean.
- As unpredictable as the business world may be you can not turn your back on it.
- Keep looking “outside”
- Look ahead to the changes that are coming.
- Move before it moves you.
- When you see the changes coming act before you are forced to respond.
- Never surf alone.
- We are all in this together, use those around you as resources.
Change is inevitable and is coming at a much faster pace. Kreigel’s formula, the rules of surfing give way to embracing that change. It is clear that even if you are not in a position to make the changes or call the shots you are still apart of the change and how you respond will determine your success.
Kriegal, Robert. Patler, Louis. If it ain’t broke…Break it! and other Unconventional Wisdom for a Changing Business World. New York: Warner Book, Inc. 1992. Print.