Out with the OLD in with the NEW



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.

  1. 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.
  1. No Dare/No Flair
  1. 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.
  1. Never turn back on your ocean.
  • As unpredictable as the business world may be you can not turn your back on it.
  1. Keep looking “outside”
  • Look ahead to the changes that are coming.
  1. Move before it moves you.
  • When you see the changes coming act before you are forced to respond.
  1. 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.

5 Replies to “Out with the OLD in with the NEW”

  1. Caitlin,

    I was also drawn to this title so I can’t wait to read your future reflection posts about the book. I agree that change doesn’t always feel good. Recently the company I work for went through also went through a big change – no lay offs, but they did do a reorganization. I have always been able to adapt to change but I have noticed that my older co-workers aren’t as adaptable.

    I think the comparison between the changing business environment and a surfer and the waves is very interesting and clever. I never would have thought of the two as something similar. I think my favorite rule is number 7: never surf alone. I work in training and it would be impossible to get my job done if I didn’t have help from the rest of HR.

    Great post!


  2. I learned early in my career that my greatest asset was the ability to find something new. I graduated from college in 2007 and took my first role in a family owned flooring company that employed approximately 200 people when I started that summer. 2007 was the year that the housing bubble burst in Colorado where I lived, and new home construction dramatically decreased. I survived four rounds of layoffs in the year I worked there. I was the only member of my team of 8 remaining when I resigned shortly after a year of working there. The company was down to 30 employees total. I saw the writing on the wall and moved home across the country to live with my parents and find something more stable. Since then I have built my career around companies serving the dental, medical and science industry. I like the surfing analogy, and that change is constant like the ever-changing waves. I am grateful for this dose of reality that I was able to learn at the beginning of my career. Nothing is stable, your ability to adapt, interview well and pivot are your most valuable asset. I enjoyed reading your post and look forward to reading more.



  3. Hey Caitlin,

    This is a book I will have to read on my own (just like so many of the other books I have been learning about). When I read the rules of surfing that you summarized, I really want to type them up and put them in my office. I work in the service industry and I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard people tell me “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or another one is “don’t recreate the wheel”. No offense to seasoned managers, but they have all been around for so long that I don’t think that they would see that things need to be changed, even if it slapped them in the face. I personally embrace change (usually) and I really like what this book is saying.

    Thank you!


  4. I like this if it is not broke , break it nice! Because in some situations things need to be broken . I agree change does not feel good . And most people are scared of change and starting new things. Wow, passion is recommended by everyone. I have learned by reading my book that passion gives you motivation to fuel your business venture.


  5. I LOVE if it ain’t broken, break it. I can relate to this in my teaching career because a lot of times we see vetern teachers often do the same things year after year. It works sometimes but change is good. Sometimes you need to switch things up a bit and do things differently. I cannot wait to read more about the book you chose!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: