Jack Gibson (coach of the Australian Rugby League Team of the Century) used to say, “In football, if you are standing still, you’re going backwards fast.” Jack was an innovative coach who also produced classic quotes.
He used to use the above quote to illustrate the requirement to continually innovate in coaching—otherwise his team would be left behind because his competition would definitely be trying to improve.
He could just as easily have been talking about business. Any business that does not change inevitably goes backward. To avoid this, you should be constantly looking for new and better ways to operate, or sometimes just try something different. Change your displays or posters. Modify the uniform. Have your team meetings at a different time—anything to break up what you do and try something different. Action in itself is often the positive motivator required to drag people out of a rut and rejuvenate a business.
There is a business I drive past on my way to work. I noticed a new window display one day. It looked quite impressive with a life-size cardboard cut-out decorated in an attractive way. The owner of the business had done a fantastic job in creating a great display. He obviously thought he had done a great job as well—he didn’t change it for the next four years!
My impression of this business has now plunged, and I see it as a jaded and tired business. I have started noticing that the paint looks a little faded and the doors hang a little crooked. I certainly don’t see them as being innovative or a market leader. They have reduced their staff numbers, and I would guess that their profits have also fallen.
It may sound like change for the sake of change, but by embracing change and looking for ways to improve, a business can grow and prosper. It is easy to get stuck in a rut and do the same thing day after day, week after week, and before you know it, year after year—and the only time you change is when the liquidators are called in to wind up your business.