The other day a friend of mine remarked on just how much my four-year-old daughter had changed since the last time he saw her. She is growing up to be quite a little woman, he commented. I bet that she can be a real helper around the house.
Quite honestly his comments struck me as odd. First off, I didnt really see that big of a difference in my daughter and secondly I had never thought of her as having the skills to be a great helper around the house. However, as I thought about it, I realized he was right, my daughter had indeed developed a lot more than I was giving her credit for. I realized that because I see her everyday, because I witness every subtle change she makes, I quickly absorb these changes in to my everyday perception of who she is. Somehow because I am so close to her, the changes she makes become less significant.
As parents, immense change in our children can go virtually unnoticed because we live and breathe them every day. However, since my friend has a more distant relationship, these changes jumped right out at him. What my friend taught me that day was that sometimes you can get too close, too enthralled and you need to step back and really make an effort to notice all of the little changes that have happened around you.
It was this little chance encounter with my friend that has prompted me to think about an often-overlooked question and that is, "What has changed with you?" When was the last time that you asked yourself this question?
Have you gained new expertise, new production equipment or new distribution channels? Do you have more income or more customers that would allow you to undertake new business opportunities that before were considered impossible? Do you have new employees who bring in a different level of expertise or have old employees taken new training giving them new skills you've never considered. Have you considered other departments, other divisions and other regions, are they doing things that you can leverage off?
This month, why not map out all the changes that have happened and ask yourself what do all of these changes mean to me? Like we do with our children, many times we can get too close to our business and fail to recognize all of the changes that have happened within us.
List as many ideas for the following I have included a few to get you started ...
How have you changed?
Has your attitude changed?
Has your beliefs changed?
Has your vision changed?
How has your financial situation changed?
Do you have more/less cash in the bank?
Do you have new ways to fund projects?
Has your cashflow changed?
Have your margins changed?
How has your customer list changed?
Do you have more customers... or fewer customers?
How has your relationship changed with them?
Are your customers getting older or younger?
How have their demographics changed?
Has the length of contract changed?
Have their expectations changed?
How has your business process changed?
Do you have new systems or new processes?
Are there new technology changes?
How has your business structure changed?
Has the decision process changed?
How have your employees changed?
Do you have more employees... or fewer employees?
How has the average age and work experience changed?
How has the skill set changed (education, business experience, language)?
How has the culture changed?
Keep in mind, the examples I've provided here are all very obvious things to look at. Your real value will come from looking closer and harder at the subtle changes that are specific to you and your organization. Once you've brainstormed a complete and thorough list of what has changed, ask yourself how can you leverage these changes better in the future?