"Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.” “It’s going fine, we don’t need to change.” “Don’t rock the boat.” When was the last time you heard someone say something like this in the workplace? It’s often said for the right reasons because work is going well, clients are happy, and the revenue stream is steady. However, particularly in our business, we need to be innovative – both it what we do and how we do it. But it’s not just about evolving a product offering or solving a client issue. It’s also about how we change as people and shape our ways of working.
Looking back over the past five years, we can see how quickly technology has changed the way we communicate, travel, shop etc. Thinking about the next five years, the change will become exponential. As a business we must be ready for that change. At Burrows we have several strategic plans called FF20, FF21, FF22. These stand for Fit For 2020, and so on. They address different challenges around the five facets of our business (People, Prospects, Product, Process and Performance).
The area I want to cover here is people. When you have a successful business like ours that has long-term clients on annual scopes, you have a lot of stability which is great for financial planning and resourcing but not always so great for staying business fit. Stability can create a comfort zone where you become so polished at doing what you do that it’s difficult to approach a challenge in a new way. This is called ‘Functional Fixedness’ or having a fixed mindset. To be the best at what you do, you need an open mindset – one that welcomes and embraces change.
Peter Senge, Senior Lecturer at MIT School of Management said, “People don’t dislike change, they dislike being changed”. For some, it can seem painful or scary being taken out of their comfort zone and embracing new ways of thinking, and so change needs to be handled carefully and in context to the situation. I’m fortunate that I find change dynamic and exciting. Part of my role as MD at Burrows is to be a catalyst for change. Not change for the sake of it, but change that ensures we’re fit for the future challenges that our industry and our clients will bring.
In some industries change can be urgent in order to survive an imminent situation or event, for example in high-risk environments. However, in creative agencies such as ours it’s more about evolution to stay ahead of the curve. This is where an open mindset is so important, because for people to embrace change, they need to realise the need for it and grasp the benefits and rewards it will bring – which may not be immediate.
Changing mindsets doesn’t mean a well-honed craft is lost, but rather enhanced and broadened. Redirecting skills to reflect the changing business is not only good for the business, but for every person who develops their skillset along the way.
Whilst driving change, we also need to keep sight of another business challenge – to maintain performance (another of my five facets). It’s vital that we continue our ‘business as usual’ work to the same high standard – to deliver revenue and profit whilst driving innovation through the agency and taking people on a journey to become fit for the future.