Spring: Leveraging a Time for Change

The signs of spring are all around us.  Whether it’s the early morning birds chirping, warmer temperatures, plants starting to bud, or any other number of ways nature let’s us know the season is changing.  And, though it may not always be as noticeable, your business is changing too.  So how can your business leverage this unique time of the year?

It was the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus that said “The only constant is change”. In business (and in life) that means it really is impossible to maintain status quo.  Your business is either getting better or getting worse.  Yet one of the most common responses from business owners when discussing the state of their business or a segment of it, is something to the effect of we’re “holding steady” or “things are about the same”.  The simple truth is, that is never the case, you are either getting better or you’re getting worse.  From year to year, month to month, week to week, even day to day your business is constantly changing, especially with the more recent challenges of employee and supply chain issues. 

Embracing the Spring change…

We can have unpredictable weather just about any time of the year.  But historically spring can produce some of the biggest swings over short periods of time… you’re wearing shorts one day and jackets the next.

Mixed in with the sometimes-dramatic swings in the weather are the constant slower reminders that predictable, stable change is also around us.  We gain a few minutes of sunlight every day, the average daily temperature creeps up, dormant grass and trees show signs of new life.  By embracing these predictable changes of spring, we are physiologically conditioned to better cope with the more unpredictable changes that happen along the way.      

The predictable and less predictable changes of spring are all nature’s way of opening our minds to the possibilities of what, why, and how.  It would stand to reason, that although our brains are naturally wired to fear change, when there are enough predictable components incorporated, we’re more likely to embrace (or at least cope with) what is not.   Remove the absolutes (the given changes) and the less predictable changes of spring would be much harder to accept or embrace.

Change in your business…

Whether it is sparked by nature, reflecting on first quarter results, looking forward to the next quarter and beyond, or all the above, spring remains a time of year many businesses are open to implementing changes.  When working with businesses, especially during strategic planning sessions there usually is no shortage of practical, lean, and valuable initiatives identified for the company.  Once these initiatives are clearly identified, the next step is to start implementing them and nearly all initiatives include change.  

Often the list of ideas and suggestions to make improvements and changes gets so lengthy it can easily overwhelm not only the business owner(s) but more directly all the team members. The team members who are most likely to be the ones executing on them.  When this happens, the distance between where the company is today and where they want to be, can appear to be so great they don’t know where to start.  There are usually a few of the team members and/or owner(s) that want to dive into all the initiatives at once, a few feel stuck and don’t know where to begin, and others that cherry pick their favorites.

Everyone is acting with the best of intensions and certainly no one is trying to be malicious towards their other teammates, but lack of direction and too many changes too fast can be disastrous.  We forget that the natural response to change is fear.  And, that fear can create chaos in the business, even when it may only be a series of minor changes.  Any changes in your business first need clarity, then focus, then slowly build the momentum.

Change with Clarity, Focus, and Momentum…

Instead, try this approach.   Once you establish your list, prioritize them into manageable tasks so that you can measure the results as they are implemented.   Decide which initiatives matter the most and have clarity with all those involved about the why, what, how.   Leverage the absolutes (the predictable components, the safe places) in your business to reduce the fear of the unknowns when implementing changes.  This allows the team to focus on the agreed upon goals without feeling like they are losing control of their environment.  It sets the stage to build momentum.  This slower more controlled approach is much more likely to produce the long-term results you are hoping to achieve.  

Spring is here, nature is setting the stage for change. Leverage what nature is providing, the daily reminders that “the only constant really is change” and your business can make positive changes too!   

What about you?  How do you respond to the changes of spring? How does your business? Do you like quick changes or a more controlled approach?  Please feel free to add your comments in the space below.  

Chris Steinlage, Kansas City Business Coach.