The Art of Change: Step 1 - A New Perspective

Change is difficult. A justification that explains the headlong race into business irrelevancy perpetuated by companies clinging to the status quo.

"Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts," said Edward R. Murrow. A man willing to take on the status quo, and create a new reality based on simple truths.

And the truth is simple. And much as we or others try to dress it, pervert it and twist it to our own needs, it is both resilient and reliable. Waiting patiently for us to come home, rewarding us with the joy that we are back, and reminding us again of the pleasure of belonging to something on which we can count.

For those whose life is devoted to selling creativity, our truth is that creativity possesses the power to change attitudes and behaviors. 

The value of which we deny when we charge only for the time it takes us to create. A perspective which also explains why we are unwilling to rock our own status quo.

For if we see change only as a by-product of what we do and not as the benefit of what we do, we focus only on the act of change. Not the outcome. Rewarding ourselves not for moving closer to our goals, but for simply surviving another day. A business plan that ends inevitably and ironically in change. Uncontrollable. Unavoidable. Unbearable.

But change is not a by-product or an after-thought.

Change is the result of the work we do.

And the better we do it, the more change we produce.

A perspective that we need to harness if we are to define our futures on our own terms.

Which brings us to Step 1 in:

The Guide To Valuable Creative Business.

I. Defining Change.

Email yourself the answers to these questions:

1. If I bought our largest client, what would my three biggest problems be?

2. Would I hire us to solve any of them?

3. What change would I expect to be caused by hiring us?

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step,” Confucius said.

On Thursday, we’ll take step 2.

The Pause That Refreshes

When you own a company, one of the hardest things to do is to measure your own progress. And yet, it is a critical aspect of managing a business staffed by human beings.

As a species, we evolve instinctively. It’s why we’re still here. And part of our DNA is the need to build and create.

364 days a year, we should occupy ourselves with what we’re doing and where we’re going. On the 365th day, however, we should pause and reflect on how far we have come.

Profit and loss statements and balance sheets tell only part of the story. And frankly, the longer I study businesses, the more I believe that the preparation of financial reports is every bit as much art as science. And that’s when you manage your company by the letter of the law.

You can get numbers to say anything. So use reports wisely, but don’t draw whole cloth conclusions from them.

Establishing a 365th day as a constant point of reference is essential.

At our old company we used to mark our progress during the annual Christmas party in each of our offices. At the end of dinner, we would talk specifically about how the company had changed over the preceding twelve months, and then we would do the same for every person seated around the table.

Because as a group or as an individual, you can only see progress in context. Looking ahead is aspirational, but subject to change. So the only fixed reference point you have is to measure how far you have come.

Until now, we had not applied this principle to our own Consultancy - physician heal thyself.

A couple of months ago, two very smart digital strategists that we work with at Double Shot Consulting suggested we add some client testimonials to our website. But rather than the usual written pieces, they suggested we film some of our clients and use the power of the immediacy of their own words.

That shoot happened yesterday. It was one of the more profound days of our lives. Emotional. Humbling. Inspirational. To hear people talk about how you have helped them is an extraordinary experience.

It’s also a benchmark. And so July 1st is now the day that we will pause each year and look back at our progress.

That clock is already ticking. Time to get back to work.

It Depends

People ask me what we do all the time. I generally say something about helping entrepreneurs and privately held companies build better futures. If I was my client I’d tell myself I need a better answer. Physician heal thyself.We work with clients all the time on this issue. Can you define what you do in a single sentence without the use of the word ‘and’?It’s a great discipline. And the truth is that if a short elevator ride is not long enough to explain the value you offer your customers, you’re probably not entirely sure yourself. And that communicates itself in big ways - and small.I’ve been conscious of that. If someone asks me the question today I’d tell them this.“We provide context. Because without context, any decision you make is a guess.”