The Trend Report Podcast

Episode 134: 10 to Win: Driving Change in Your Business

Sid Meadows

Hey friend, welcome to the Trend Report podcast. I'm glad you're joining me today for another conversation with just me and you in our newly indoctrinated 10 to Win series. I'm Sid Meadows and I'm a business leader, coach, consultant and a long time student of the office furniture industry. In the Trend Report, we have powerful conversations with industry leaders, innovators and others that are making an impact in their business and our industry. As you know, my goal is simple to provide you with valuable insights, information, resources and tools that will help you grow and your business grow, and to help move our industry forward. So let's dive into today's conversation.


Today, we're talking about driving change in your business. A little over 30 years ago, I began my journey in the office furniture industry when I was hired as a salesperson at a dealership. Really hard to believe that was 30 years ago. I was only a couple of years out of college and I was definitely a newcomer to the industry, so much so that I did not even know the difference between veneer and laminate. However, I was eager to learn, to grow and fall in love with this industry. That's exactly what happened. Little did I realize that I was joining an industry that I would never leave.

Throughout my career I have experienced a lot of growth still even today and change. That change in growth is not only personally, but it's also professionally. I've watched our industry go. I've watched it change and modernize in a lot of different ways. In fact, I remember the day, while I was working at the dealership, that we got our first computer that would allow our designer her name was Wendy to start drawing electronically rather than by hand. She was so excited and we were all enamored with this technology. Now you got to remember the screen was green and the lines were white and that computer was huge.

Fast forward a few years later, maybe a lot of years, and this aspect of what we do has been totally modernized with tools that allow you to even do live design that includes photorealistic renderings, with your customer participating in the process. I mean it's truly amazing how far we have come from hand-drawn floor plans. But other aspects of our industry have not progressed as far as computer aided drawings. In fact, some have stayed exactly the same as they were way back in the 1990s when I first joined the industry.

One example of this is our discounting strategies. Have you ever tried to explain 50, 10, and 5 to someone outside our industry. It's not easy, is it? I still understand why can't we just say the discount is 57.25? It would make things a lot easier, but when manufacturers have tried to change this, we've resisted. We don't want our beloved Moncti-tier discount structure to change. It's really crazy.

Other aspects that need some improvement, or at least maybe evaluation, in our industry include modernizing our overly complex sales process. Simplifying the many and multiple layers in our business, focusing on selling solutions versus products, and reducing the cycle time from customer inquiry to installation are a few that come to mind for me. I'm sure, if you start to think about it, that you could think of a few things that could really benefit from modernization as you go about doing your daily job. But to modernize something, especially a business practice, that means that we have to be open to this thing called change. I think we all know that change is hard. Honestly, people typically resist change because it pushes them outside their comfort zone. Honestly, most people simply don't like it and they don't like what's required to drive and to implement real change, especially change that has the ability to impact your business for all the right reasons.

So let's talk about it for a minute. What does it take to drive change? What do you think about that? For a second, what does it take to drive change? I think the answer to this question is simple and complex all at the same time. For me, it takes courage. It takes the courage to realize that there is a problem or that there are areas for improvement, both personally and professionally, and it takes the courage to share your thoughts with those around you, with others, including those people that you work for. But, honestly, having that courage is, for me, the simple part. The complex part of driving change is getting others to buy into your idea.

When we think about this, I think the first step is really getting them to understand that there is a problem, that it actually exists, or at least getting them to be open to hearing your thoughts on the topic. I think that's part of the reason why people resist change so much is they don't see the problem. They don't see that an issue exists and that may be because they're not working in that part of the business or they're not exposed to that part of the business on a regular basis. So they just see surface level that oh, everything is okay, and so they don't want to hear about a potential problem in the business, but once you've gotten someone to hear you out and let you share your thoughts on a particular issue or problem, now it's time for you to share your vision. What I mean by that is share your vision of what the future looks like after your idea has been implemented, and that's what leaders and organizations, including me, that's what we need to see. We need to see the end result. We need to see how this change is going to have a positive impact on our business. What we don't need to see, what you don't need to do, is share the process of how we get from point A to point B, or, as some people might say, from current state to future state. Right, and we need to see what the future state is, not the process to get there, because explaining the process to somebody could actually shut the entire conversation now.

So I'll share a little personal story with you. Recently, we had a change in our business that was a bit unexpected at ThinkSpace. Now I'll spare you all the details, but the change centered around a valuable employee leaving us to pursue their dream job, and I was fully on board with this decision. Though it was really sad to see this person leave us. We were excited for them in their next chapter because this is something that they really wanted to do, and I am never going to stand in the way of anybody regardless of how valuable they are to our organization from pursuing their dreams and pursuing something that they really want to do. So I did what's typically expected Immediately I picked up the phone, called a recruiter and I started the process of finding a replacement.

And then one day I'm driving down the road reflecting on the entire situation and, to be a little nugget here, I do my best thinking when I'm driving. I realized as I was reflecting on this that I was actually conforming to how our industry says small businesses like ThinkSpace should operate. This is what we should do. Our industry says you should do this, and I stopped myself and I said why? Why do we have to do it this way? Just because the industry says we have to do it this way doesn't mean that it's best for our business. So I reflect on this some more, really started digging into this need heard in the season that one of my strength is a critical problem solving and taking something and breaking down and Really trying to understand multiple paths forward, right. So I reflected and I came up with a different idea. I came up with an idea on how to restructure our organization in a way that would provide our reps, our dealers and our customers with increased level of service and a better overall customer experience, without replacing the individual that was leaving us.

Now, after sharing my vision with the rest of the leadership team, getting them to buy into my idea, we started the process to implement it and now, several months later, this is working better than I could have ever hoped. But it was a risk. It was a risk to step outside of the industry norm and try something new, to have the courage and to be brave to blaze a new trail. But, friend, it worked and it worked really well. And what it did is it proved to me that just because our industry says that we should operate in this way Doesn't mean that we have to or that it's right for our organization, especially the future of our organization. Because I think we're in a place now that all organizations, whatever type of organization you are in our industry, needs to understand what the future looks like and how we need to change and adapt. And that's kind of the key for me, right, it's understanding is the change that you want to implement right for your organization? Is it congruent with where the company is going and what the company is doing? I think it's important to understand that.

You know we work in an amazing industry and every day we get the privilege to help our customers create amazing spaces for their employees to work and thrive. However, I really believe that some of our practices are outdated and need to be improved, but we're no different than other industries. Improvement, changes, updating outdated practices that happens in every industry, and these changes and improvements of things that I'm talking about, they start with you. They start with you having the courage to see what needs to be improved or modernized and then the courage to share that with your leaders, with the owners, with the other people in your organization, having the courage to share your ideas and your vision for a better tomorrow.

I truly believe that the foundation of every business is its people, and the best ideas always come from the people that work in the business every day. Because you see it from a different perspective than the leaders see it, because you're doing the job today, you see the challenges with the job, the struggles with the job, the complexities with the job, the repetitive tasks that have to be done right. You see your job and that component of the business better than anybody. So, regardless of your role, I know that you have thoughts and ideas that you can share to move your business forward, to move your company forward, and, honestly, your company needs you to share them and so does our industry, because together we can truly move our industry forward if we're paying attention to what's happening around us, what's going on in our business, and have the courage to stand up and share our voice.

Thanks for joining me today. I hope that you really enjoyed this short episode in our new 10 to win series and if you got some amazing value out of today's conversation, I would love it if you would head over to Apple, leave us a rating and review. It really helps the reach of our show and I just love hearing from you and how the show helped you. So you don't want to leave a rating interview. I welcome you to send me a message on LinkedIn or shoot me over an email. It was great to be here with you again today. I appreciate each and every one of you. Go out there and make today great and we'll see you again soon. Take care everyone.


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