Change. The Inevitable Plan.

Change is defined as, ‘the act or instance of making or becoming different’. But to what extent? And, within what time frame? There are many variables to consider but in today’s business world the one point that remains constant is, failure is not an option. Despite the same statement by Ed Harris’ character in the movie, Apollo 13, no one at NASA Mission Control actually uttered those words during the Apollo 13 mission, but as many individuals faced economic uncertainty not so long ago, you can rest assured many throughout the United States thought, said and maybe, screamed those infamous words!

On his personal blog, FranchisEssentials, National Franchise Advisors co-founder & president, Paul Segreto shares his thoughts on getting out in front of challenging situations and/or trends by exploring change as a solution, not only to a problem but as a new direction. His post is shared below.

Change… Because Failure is not an Option 

Like a ship at sea, a business should make directional changes in a long, sweeping manner. Conversely, although abrupt change in direction may create havoc, it may be deemed necessary by the captain and navigation team to avoid what may not be apparently visible on the surface to others on the ship, but is evident nonetheless through compilation of data and viewing radar. In any event, well thought-out plans, including contingency plans must be in place and acted upon to arrive safely at a specific destination within a certain time frame, and with available resources.

However, what happens when seas are rough, or when a storm is approaching, or when an engine shuts down? It’s then the captain’s responsibility to crew and passengers, and to the ship’s stakeholders to make any and all necessary changes to ensure all interests are protected. Thereafter, when the ship is safely docked, management must review the events that took place and explore options to ensure the same problems don’t reoccur.

“Management must identify ways to improve performance by developing strategy and executing on tactical plans to accomplish objectives at all required intervals – short, mid and long-term.”

Change requires thought and planning. As does operating a successful business. As change occurs, many within the business are exposed to decisions that on the surface appear to be “drastic or severe” and are not understood and/or agreed upon. However, what is typically not realized are areas of weakness and vulnerability that must be addressed and with the utmost sense of urgency. In many cases there are common denominators across multiple areas of the business. Most will be directly attributable to reduction in sales. Some will adversely affect profitability.

Unfortunately, the economic woes of the great recession continue to linger, compounding problems that may have started as a result of the downturn. Deficiencies, usually hidden by high sales levels are standing out like sore thumbs. Accepting these facts while realizing limitations and shortcomings is vitally important, but knowing what and how to improve [and change] is required. Definitive action is paramount!

Change what needs to be changed. Prioritize changes that will make the most immediate impact. Grow into the changes that aren’t urgent. But, do it all within the time frame where challenges present themselves as survival may be dependent upon the same. Change, as unpopular as it might be, is necessary to recover AND to move forward. To this end, hard decisions must be made – with absolute conviction and without delay for the good of the business and ultimately, for all within the business. Yes, change is difficult. But so is failure, and failure is not an option!