We are living in a time when the economy is moving and people’s businesses are changing quickly. The challenge is to stay relevant throughout all of the fast-paced growth occurring around us. After we go through the initial shock and fear associated with change, and we all go through it, then we are ready to deal with the relevance question. Change questions relevance. Whenever change happens, the fear of staying relevant always pops up.
As I reflected on this concept of change and relevance, I looked for a definition to help guide me. Here is what I found:
Relevance: Being relevant is making a difference, being important to the matter at hand and being closely connected. It’s the answer to the question: Does my business matter anymore and can it continue to thrive?
Growing an economy where unemployment is at an all-time low requires a new kind of thinking about how to remain relevant. Inevitably, it involves technology. Investing in technology allows us to adapt to the growth. Scaling up requires a process evaluation and an assessment of how technology can not only help us adapt to change, but also make us even more relevant.
Change at Lunchtime
One common example we encounter often of how an industry has been able to increase relevance in a time of rapid change is in the world of fast food. Take one of my favorite regular lunch spots, Panera. As this chain experiences rapid growth, expanding to markets all over the country, while facing a labor shortage, we have been seeing more and more self-serve kiosks with iPads rather than people taking our orders.
Just a few months ago, my regular Panera made the switch to iPads. At first, I was confused. I messed up my order a few times. But once I got the hang of it, lunch went so much more efficiently and I even downloaded the app to order lunch before I left the office, so it would be ready for me when I got there!
Keep the Big Thing Constant
The big thing that Panera needed to continue to do during this transition to tech was continue to provide the same quality of food and experience. As I eventually learned how to use the tablet to order, I continued to receive the same delicious salad and have the same enjoyable experience eating it in the store. I can tell from the large crowds in the Paneras I visit on my travels that other loyal customers have also adapted to the change because the food and experience have remained constant.
This lesson can be applied to any big change in your business. Ask yourself, during times of change, what is the single most important thing to maintain in order to remain relevant. Then, keeping this as your goal, approach your path to it with flexibility and openness.
What kinds of changes are you facing? What are you afraid of, and how are you going to remain relevant? Here’s a checklist to keep handy when facing any type of change:
- Pause and take stock of what’s happening. This requires you to put your fears at bay and slow down. Change happens really fast.
- Find the one big thing. Ask yourself, what is the one big thing that needs to happen for you to remain relevant throughout the change.
- Be flexible in your efforts to achieve that goal. Adapt to the shifting market or situation. Keep an open mind and be OK with changes. Have confidence and hope for the best, always.
Whether the change is rapid growth in the marketplace or a new life stage, these simple steps can help you remain relevant during even the most unfamiliar changes.
Yasser Youssef is the president of The Budd Group, one of the leading facility service companies in the country a North Carolina-based company that provides facility support services in the Southeast. Throughout his career, Youssef has met leaders from all backgrounds, and believes leadership is for everyone. Over the past few years, he has developed an affinity for writing and contributing thought leadership, and is often asked to speak to businesses throughout the country about authentic leadership.