In my April 11th article, See the World as It Is, the point of that article was about how leaders commonly ignore the signs and implication of change within their industry. Rather than face the changes, assess the implications, and take course corrective action, often leaders continue their current direction, often with disastrous consequences following at some point.
Recently on LinkedIn there was one of the more thorough articles explaining in detail how one industry has ignored changes around them, Casual Dining Restaurant Chains Are in Peril by restaurant industry consultant, Aaron Allen. While the industry in the story is the Casual Dining industry (think Ruby Tuesday, Applebee’s, Red Robin type restaurants) it holds lessons for any industry, especially those that are highly competitive and maturing. Here are some lessons to consider:
If you are only looking at your exact competitors and their customers, you likely will lose out.
Change does not happen suddenly, it’s constant and constantly moving in new directions around a company or industry.
Blaming your employees, suppliers, the industry for poor performance is a leadership excuse for failing to understand your industry, its competition and most importantly people, a.k.a current and prospective customers.
If you are doing what everyone else is doing, that’s not leadership, but “imitatorship” and a route to at best, mediocrity, and more likely serious trouble.
When leaders drink their own bath water, your performance is going to go in the toilet at some point.
Great brands are not built on creating shareholder value, but built upon a vision to make a difference in people’s lives. The money comes as a result of delivering this.
While you may not think of running your company like playing a betting game, the old Kenny Roger’s song, The Gambler, has sound wisdom for company leaders:
Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away
And knowin' what to keep
'Cause every hand's a winner
And every hand's a loser
Leaders must be certain they are honestly and candidly reading their markets, customers and competitors by the actual faces of change. That way they are in the best position to play their hand to win.