Change in life is inevitable. In business, it’s essential. I’ve personally been working in offices for over 20 years and the changes I’ve seen – going from DOS, to Windows, to cloud-based tools – have led me to adapt my skills every step of the way just to keep up with technology. My ability to adapt has been a strategic advantage throughout my entire career. It’s allowed me to pick up new skills quickly and easily, find ways to innovate to deliver work more efficiently, and continue learning within my area of expertise through a variety of mediums.
Why is change a strategic advantage?
In 2006, my husband and I called our phone company and cancelled our account. We had found a new service that gave us a flat rate on calls to the U.S. and Canada – a high priority for us, having family down south. The service used voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology. We gave up our traditional phone line to make calls over the internet. For years, we got calls from the phone company offering all kinds of deals to get us to come back, but they could never match the service we had. VoIP had the strategic advantage.
In 2008, we decided that having cable didn’t make sense for us anymore. More and more shows were available for streaming online and, as Netflix was growing in popularity in the U.S., we knew it wouldn’t be long before they came to Canada. So, we cut the cord. We watched as the same catalyst for us cutting cable led to Blockbuster going out of business. Streaming had the strategic advantage.
The business world is constantly evolving. In the past 15 years, there have been countless businesses that have resisted change and lost that gamble to innovative thinkers that gave consumers what they wanted when they wanted it. It isn’t always about delivering a service cheaper, though being innovative and finding ways to cut costs to customers is something I think we can all appreciate.
One size doesn’t fit all
In both of the instances I described, I tried to talk to the companies multiple times to find ways to get what I wanted or needed, but their packages were too restrictive. The people who designed their products didn’t build in the flexibility that would address different situations, and it led to an irreversible loss of my business.
If you want to retain a strategic advantage in your business and career growth, you have to be willing to evolve and be flexible. We can learn from what has happened in the music and movie industries and not let our own careers and businesses become irrelevant to employers, clients and prospects before we realize what’s happening.
Innovation requires you to think differently
Last year, I decided to make a drastic change to a service/product I deliver to clients. It was already a premium product, but something about the way it was delivered wasn’t working. I took a lot of time to think through how I could alter the service and deliver greater value. The solution I came up with was more expensive, but the buy-in has been tremendous. The results have shown that I went the right direction.
Whether you’re working for an employer or building a business, growth requires us all to reflect on some important questions:
- Who is your greatest competition and how do you compare? – Whether it’s a business or another employee with similar ambitions, knowing who and what you’re up against is a critical step to making strategic changes.
- Is there something you should be doing better or need to start/stop doing? – These are three separate questions, but they are so closely linked to determining the right innovations.
- What outcomes do I want for my clients/employer? – When you know what you want, you can create a roadmap to get there.
There are probably dozens of more questions you can ask to spur change that gives you a strategic advantage, but don’t spend too much time trying to figure out the magic bullet to make changes. It isn’t going to happen just once, and every step of strategic change will take you to a new and better place.
Join us this month at the Wine Down, the Breakfast Mix and Mingle, or our brand new event, the Executive Champagne Series! We’re focusing all month on the strategic advantage you can get from making the right kind of changes in your professional life and business.
I hope you’ll all join us for this year’s 22nd Annual WBN Charity Golf Tournament in support of Healthy Women Healthy Community!
WBN President, 2015-16
Karen C. Wilson Communications