Hungry for Change – Making Meaningful, Lasting Change Will Inevitably Grow Your Business
by Neil Rosenbaum
Recently, I wrote about the need to overcome challenges at work in the drive to instigate lasting change. The dilemma of needing pain to create change or innovation and the human instinct to avoid it creates the need for compelling, visionary leadership to grow your business.
I also mentioned Taavi Katko, the former CIO of the Country of Estonia who was instrumental in creating the first “eCountry.” In a podcast featuring Taavi, “Nothing Happens Without Pain,” he illustrates his methods for using these identified pain points to achieve the seemingly unattainable.
He also warns of the certain risks in being too comfortable. During a trip to Switzerland to attend a digital conference, Taavi was asked: “How are we doing?” Taavi answered: “You’re screwed… you are too comfortable. There is no real pain that exists here.”
His question back to them was:
“You are doing fine now, but is that enough to drive you into the future?”
This is such a relevant question today. The need to grow your business is constant, but as change happens faster and faster, entire companies and industries are at risk of being disrupted and potentially becoming irrelevant. I found some interesting answers in the next podcast in the same series about lasting change, “Hungry for Change.” This podcast features LanVy Nguyen, founder of Fashion4Freedom.
Similar to pain, humans are wired to avoid being hungry. In an article I read on the BBC about hunger and the unintended consequence of overeating and eating the wrong foods:
“Hunger is our bodies’ way of driving us to find food and eat to stay alive. It is a very powerful human instinct which can compel us to extremes of behavior.”
Here is a natural human instinct that can be used, in a figurative sense, to drive real, lasting change in an organization and its service to its clients. However, like the avoidance of pain, a leader needs to overcome the instinct to actively avoid being hungry. Another leadership dilemma: how do you grow your hunger to make meaningful change and ultimately, grow your business?
LanVy’s hunger did not come from lack of food, but rather the desire, growing up in post-war Vietnam, to have financial security.
As a result, she has dedicated her later career to helping others attain financial security.
In the podcast, LanVy explains that as a child she observed that everyone wants financial independence. As a result, the theory on which she built Fashion4Freedom is that we should look at every individual or family unit as a potential entrepreneur. The organization strives to urge that farming or artisan unit to identify themselves as a small business and assists them from that perspective.
As a result, they have reinvented the overseas supply chain and proved that people can maintain their communities and culture while creating a new model for the fashion and food supply industries that is ethical, scalable, and cost-effective.
In less than 10 years they have helped over 40,000 people achieve financial independence.
In my experience working with two large public companies and a private furniture retailer, that hunger has come from two things, both coming directly from the leader of the organization:
- A clearly communicated and constantly repeated singular, simple, and understandable vision for who we were.
- At GE Communications Products, we intended to be the “name brand alternative to AT&T products” (by far, the dominant market share leader). As a result, we moved from “also ran” to the #2 market share supplier in the industry, and ultimately to #1 when AT&T didn’t see changes coming in the industry.
- At Raymour & Flanigan, “Enhancing the Customer’s Shopping Experience” became the rally cry that inspired everyone from part-time warehouse workers to senior vice presidents. It made the answer to so many questions simple to answer or defend when necessary. Over 15 years, we went from a small Upstate NY chain to the 7th largest furniture retailer in the country as larger, better-known names crumbled and closed.
- An environment that felt like a family, fostered an entrepreneurial spirit, rewarded calculated risk-taking, and had a culture that caused each of us – from cleaning staff to the most senior positions – to not want to let any of our teammates down.
With these visions for the future and compelling destinations, we were intensely hungry to reach our goals. Hence, “Grow your hunger, grow your business.”
According to the dictionary,
“Complacency is a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.”
More interesting, I think, are the synonyms of the word: bighead, conceit, ego, pomposity, self-admiration, self-glory, smugness, swell headedness, self-congratulations, vanity, self-satisfaction.
Not uncommon words in many business units. If you see or feel any of these words in your team or company, the organization cannot be hungry, and it is time to step back, look inward and outward, and determine what really matters to your team and your customers. If you want to grow your business, you have to create that hunger.
Remember, disruption may not be far away.
For more, listen to “Hungry For Change,” Episode 4, Season 3 in the podcast One Billion (listed as number 11 on this list)