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  • Writer's pictureHassan Younes

“This is How We Always Do It” Isn’t Good Enough – 6 Tips for Tackling the Complacent Mentality

Updated: May 3, 2020

Complacency can turn even the biggest success into a major failure. See what you can do to ensure this doesn’t happen.

When was the last time you changed something in your business?

Because one thing’s for sure – the business world never stops evolving. And if you don’t evolve with it, you’ll get run over by the competition.

‘There’s no reason to change anything’ is the most dangerous thing you can say in business. Let’s see some examples of companies that did so, before having a look at what you can learn from their mistakes.

Why You Can’t Rely on Old Things - And How Others Are Coping with Changing Markets

The tech industry is a prime example of a changing environment.

A decade ago, being a one-hit-wonder was enough to put your business ahead of the competition.

Just look at Microsoft, which pioneered the use of computers at home with the Windows operating system. For the longest time, that and Office were enough to make Microsoft the highest flying stock in American stock exchanges.

But then the competition started to creep up on them.

Windows has remained the most popular operating system through all that time. But it’s just about the only thing that Microsoft could pride itself upon. While others introduced innovation after innovation, most of Microsoft’s attempts to branch out had flopped.

Remember the brief popularity of the Windows Phone? If Microsoft had put enough effort into it, it could’ve been a strong competitor to iOS and Android. But it ended up overrun by the competition in a couple of years.

It’s not until Microsoft turned it around and diversified its revenue streams that it’s now once again the highest flying big company in the US.

There are many more examples of complacency in the tech world. Sony is among the hottest topics. From the Xperia smartphone line that’s on life support to software failures, Sony keeps dropping the ball. It’s losing to competitors that are willing to work much harder at constant innovation no matter how small.

In some cases, it’s not just individual companies that fall victim to complacency. Entire industries can get overshadowed by innovators.

Just look at the taxi industry. Long years of subpar service made the industry ripe for disruption. Then Uber showed up and introduced a ground-breaking innovation. Caught off-guard, taxis have failed to bounce back, reduced to depending on legislators to beat back ride-sharing.

There are many examples of companies that know how to keep their customers engaged and interested. PepsiCo, for one, shifted its focus toward healthier beverages. The world has become obsessed with health in the past few years, and PepsiCo knows how to leverage it.

This is the kind of mindset you should have. You need to grow and make important changes that the market demands. Here are some of the best ways to do it:

1. Regularly Analyse Your Competition

Every business owner should know how to use the SWOT analysis. It tells you everything that you need to know about your business standing and what you can do to improve.

But many business owners mistakenly applying SWOT to just their own company when they should do it for the competition as well,

Competitor analyses can show you what your environment looks like. You can see what makes others better or worse than you. As a result, you can find opportunities beyond your own business.

2. Build an Atmosphere of Innovation and Motivate Your Employees

Innovation comes from creative minds in your business. So, how much are you doing to ensure that your people have the freedom to think creatively? Focusing on rigid structures and processes can suppress innovation and employees happiness.

This is why you must never micromanage and give direct orders that your people need to follow blindly as if they were in the military. Remember to set aside some time for creative exploration. Create programs and initiatives that encourage the employees to brainstorm, preferably in groups.

Also, keep in mind that motivation needs constant nurturing. Share positive results and reward your people for them. Even when mistakes happen, look at it as an opportunity to learn instead of condemnation. People will stay engaged and are more likely to come up with innovative ideas.

3. Research Your Market Regularly

Most business owners turn to market research when building their company. They want to know the products and services that sell and how to reach their audience. But there’s so much more that you can do with market research.

You can track your audience’s behaviour to see what changes over time. As a result, you’ll be able to embrace new trends earlier than your competition. You can expand and improve your product line according to customer demands.

Furthermore, you can boost brand awareness and ensure that you stay relevant in the market. You can reposition your brand, if needed, and tap into new opportunities as they arise.

This is how PepsiCo expanded its product lines in all the right directions. They identified the whole health craze as a long-lasting shift in consumer behaviour, and they have been right so far.

PepsiCo has made its brand more health-conscious with a variety of drinks like LIFEWTR and Naked Juice. Besides the consumers, the financial markets appear to love what PepsiCo is doing just as much.

Make sure that market research becomes a regular practice in your business. You’ll stay up-to-date with all the latest changes and know how you can respond to them as needed.

4. Get Out of the Comfort Zone

Complacency happens when companies get too comfortable. They’re doing well and they figure why fix anything if it’s not broken.

But it’s not about fixing but improving. And you can’t improve if you stay in the comfort zone. You’ll reach a limit and stop growing.

There are many ways to get out of the comfort zone, which doesn’t necessarily include changing your products and services. A simple change in the process may be all it takes. Question everything you’re doing with regularity and you’ll see that there’s so much more that you can change. And when the time arrives, be willing to break the norm and embrace innovation.

5. Set and Track Goals

This might sound like an obvious must, but there are so many companies that don’t pay attention to their goals. They fail to track their performance on a regular basis and therefore, they have no way of knowing if they’re moving in the right direction.

As a matter of fact, it may not always be a good sign to continuously surpass your goals. It may mean that you’re doing well, but it may also mean that your goals aren’t big enough. You might have been settling for much less than your full potential allows.

Besides quarterly and annual numbers, how often do you track your progress? You really ought to do it monthly, weekly, or even daily, depending on your business. This will paint a more detailed picture of what works and what doesn’t. You’ll be better able to avoid bottlenecks and find opportunities.

6. Learn New Skills

If you excel in certain business areas, this only means that it’s time to learn something completely new. This goes for both you and your employees.

Why do you think people like Bill Gates and Elon Musk read hundreds of books? They understand the importance of not staying in one’s lane and branching out into many different areas.

You never know when the next skill or piece of knowledge will transform your business. Keep learning even when you think you already know all you need.

Stay Sharp

Even if you’re flying high today, this doesn’t mean that you’re immune to changes in your business environment. What works today might not work tomorrow, which is going to catch those who don’t explore new possibilities out.

Don’t forget to keep researching the market and expanding your knowledge base. This could well be all you need to innovate and win in the marketplace.

I can help to inspire your organisation to make meaningful change. Call my office if you’d like to book me for a speaking gig.


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