100,000′s of thousands of businesses have failed this year. Millions of people are struggling with career decisions/changes and often remain stuck causing economic chaos for them now and in the future. Next year these numbers will likely be the same or become even higher and why?
Simple – they are no longer relevant – to their customers or the marketplace.
Why does a restaurant chain fail while others survive? Why does Borders fail while Amazon flourishes? Why do country clubs fail while others prosper? Why does any organization in any industry fail while others in the same industry and same market prosper? I will guarantee that you personally know someone or some business that has failed in the past 12 months and why did they fail? At the risk of being redundant – relevance.
Let me repeat – it’s primarily that they have lost relevance. So what is relevance and why do so many organizations lose it?
Relevance – being connected: having some sensible or logical connection with something else such as a matter being discussed or investigated. Having social significance: having some bearing on or importance for real-world issues, present-day events, or the current state of society or business.
Now my definition – the ability to bring real world experience, reality and perceptions into decisions, actions, activities and behavior that maintain a connection between your business’s products and services and buyer needs, wants and trends and the direction of market, technology and social influences.
There are eight aspects to consider when it comes to this issue of relevance. Yes, there are several others but I believe that all of the others are just sub texts of the following items. (They are not in any special order of importance – you can decide if any particular item is getting in the way of your ability to keep your business or career relevant.)
Timing – The light bulb has changed. Fax machines are losing their importance. Cars no longer have bumpers. Landlines are becoming extinct when it comes to the primary way people communicate. Think these changes have slowed or stopped? Think again. In the next five years at the outside nothing will look anything like it does today. Change is happening faster today than at any time in history. And the pace of change is increasing. If you are not ahead of the curve – you are behind it.
Ego – Ego insists that a person’s views, attitudes, beliefs and mindsets are right. A person’s ego often gets in the way of their ability to see reality as this ego filter prevents any new or creative ideas from getting through it giving the person the ability to see what is rather than what they believe is. I could go on for pages listing the number of organizations that have failed in the past five years simply because the person or people leading it could not get their egos out of the way.
Emotional maturity – Emotional maturity is the ability to see past personal conditioning influences and prejudices and accept that the world and all its circumstances are not that way you hope it is or will be. It is the willingness to change views, opinions, attitudes that no longer serve your best interests.
The ability to embrace change – The only thing that is not changing in the world today is that change will be with us every minute of every day moving forward. All change impacts each of us in some way either directly or indirectly. Think of a business that failed that you used to frequent. Think of a website that you used to rely on that is no longer available. Think of a “favorite” anything that no longer exists. Is change good or bad? It depends on how you evaluate it, respond to it and re-invent yourself as a result of it.
Arrogance – Arrogance is a close cousin of ego. It is a mindset that you are superior or smarter than others regardless of the topic or situation. It has been my experience that a major contributor of all business failures is arrogance. It is grounded in inappropriate superiority, control, ignorance or dominance.
Knowledge – Knowledge is different than information. The internet is flooded with more new information every minute of every day than any human can ever possibly keep up with even if they lived a million years. Information is a tool but the problem is that all information can be prejudiced in some way. Add to this that when information becomes available to us we can either tune it out or embrace it. Knowledge is taking relevant information and deciding how it will impact your career, business, relationships or life. Knowledge development requires introspection and consideration and not just assumptions and quick responses that may often be wrong or inappropriate. If you make important decisions with information only and not knowledge you will tend to make poor decisions.
Connection – There are many ways to keep your connections alive and well today. Consider all of the social media opportunities and websites not to mention the tremendous use of texting today and the thousands of available Apps. For years prior to the onslaught of technology people talked to each other, sat around dinner tables and shared feelings and met in person to communicate fears, dreams and plans. I am not against technology as it can be a very powerful tool to keep in touch with your customers, employees and family members but I would caution you if you are relying too heavily on this trend and losing the human touch – beware. When was the last time you asked a customer in person and not with an email or survey their impression of your product or service? Do you spend routine time the field with a salesperson or employee? When was the last time you had a “real” conversation with your spouse or one of your kids?
Mindsets – A mindset is a personal way of seeing and interpreting outside circumstances, people and situations. When your prejudices remain stuck regardless of current reality and these mindsets prevent you from making better and more appropriate decisions you are setting yourself or your business up for potential failure.
I’ll leave you with a thought and a question.
Any organization or individual, if they are to stay the test of time must remain relevant to it’s customers, prospects, market and stay connected to evolving trends. Are you willing to seriously consider the issue of relevance and any or all of the above items?