One constant you can count on in business is change. Successful leaders understand that what once proved effective for business may have little or no bearing on if it will be successful in the future.
That can certainly be true in the hardwood lumber industry. Over the years we have learned to never take success for granted. Markets change, customers move and fashions shift impacting the supply and demand for lumber.
With this in mind, we believe that if you focus on a few key fundamental concepts, and regularly challenge your company’s way of thinking, you might be better prepared to deal with and win in times of change. For example:
- Study the big picture. How often do you stop and truly analyze where your company stands now and where it is going in the future? Think objectively about your organization and try to determine if you have the right people on the bus with the ability to cope with change. Work with the team to envision the future “big picture” and develop a road map that’s both accurate and flexible enough to succeed in the business environment of today and tomorrow.
- Reduce layers of complexity. Businesses that seem to capitalize on change are typically nimble. They have found a way to grow the organization but have refrained from adding complexity to their communications, procedures and approval processes. In other words, they can act fast to take advantage of new opportunities or adjust to changing conditions!
- Challenge the status quo. A key culture characteristics that can be very beneficial is to encourage your employees to question the status quo. In many organizations, employees view themselves as mere cogs in the wheel. They stay within the parameters given, accept the established norms and rarely ask why. Sometimes a fresh look at an existing practice can reveal a new, and better, way of doing things. Urge your employees to ask why!
- Promote ideation. As a simple definition, ideation is the process of generating new ideas. Sometimes when a business adopts the concept of promoting the generation of new ideas with their employees good things happen. At American Lumber we’ve seen practical examples of this paying off. We have seen employees suggest the development of new red oak sorting tables, a better way to preserve white oak logs, and a less expensive way to transport truckloads of lumber to our customers. Even better yet, we have found that the culture of the company stays fresh, vibrant and exciting which helps in so many ways!
Adapting effectively to an ever-changing market is critical. The way we conduct business in the future will certainly be different than it is today. But having and environment where your employees embrace change and are prepared to succeed within it will have you better prepare for the future. Will your organization be prepared?