With nearly 200,000 books on “change” for sale at Amazon.com you can bet people are trying to understand change in their lives. Whether it’s a new job, new boss, your first child, a different diet or a ruptured disc, chances are someone somewhere is trying to understand how it will affect their life.
Some companies spend years and countless resources to avoid change. They operate under the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” model. This mindset stifles innovation and simultaneously sends a message to employees to not try new things. Sure we can all agree that New Coke’s introduction in 1985 was a miss. It resulted in a drop in market share and ultimately ended in 2002 as Coke brought back the “classic”. New Coke however represented a change. It represented innovation regardless of the outcome. Think about it. Steve Jobs introduced the first PDA, Newton, in 1993 and just 5 short years later it was discontinued.
So when should you change? Is change mandated by a timeframe? Does your competition drive when you change? Does your boss require you to change, or a merger that results in a new management teams arrival force a change? Is it a measure of market share?
There’s no one way to advise someone, or a company, when the right time is to change. My belief is that it’s better to change before change is forced upon you. However, if you have a change mindset chances are you view change as a learning experience. A way to grow. A chance to expand your horizons.
In the movie, The 100 Foot Journey, Helen Mirren’s character, the owner of a one-star French restaurant who is in relentless pursuit of her second star, asks Manish Dayal’s character, a chef, why he changed a 200 year old recipe. His response? “Maybe 200 years was long enough.”
Don’t change for the sake of change. That’s silly. Change because the thing you are altering, modifying, or adjusting will become better as a result of the change. Perhaps the true result indicates the change wasn’t worth it. I’d suggest to reevaluate a few weeks, months, or even years later. When Steve Jobs was asked why Newton flopped yet the iPod took off, Jobs said the world simply wasn’t ready for Newton. The infrastructure, specifically referring to the iTunes store, wasn’t ready. Sometimes a change made today doesn’t make sense today, tomorrow, or next month. But with time, an open mind, and a beginners attitude we can learn from all of our changes. They instruct us, inspire us, and lead us to better outcomes. Without change we become stagnant, static, irrelevant. And who wants that?