Is Your Organization Doomed To Fail? 0

“If the rate of change externally is greater than the rate of change internally, then your organization is doomed to fail.” Dan Cathy, President and COO Chick-Fil-A

I discovered Chick-Fil-A when I was a salesman for a small audio electronics chain, Harvey’s Warehouse. The year was 1977 and the store was located in the Coliseum Mall, Hampton Virginia. My store was just a few shops down from their location.  That Chick-Fil-A was always busy and not just at lunch or dinner. I can’t remember ever walking by and not seeing lines. Even back then they had figured out a niche and were exploiting it. 30 some years later, Chick-Fil-A is still packing in their “raving fans” and continuing to grow. (Learn more by reading Manage Better Now’s complete coverage of Dan Cathy’s speech given at the University of Tampa)

In the 1980′s I was a store manager for the catalog merchandiser Best Product’s Company, Inc. I had managed seven stores in seven years and had moved around the state of Virginia, finally returning to my wife’s home town of Hampton, VA. Life seemed great, the company had just hit a billion in  sales and my future with them seemed ripe with opportunity. And then we acquired Modern Merchandising. The next twelve months proved fatal for our company.

We began assimilating all of the buying offices throughout the country and consolidating our distribution centers. We changed the names on the buildings to our Best Products logo. We even had T-shirts made. It was only twelve months, but the attention this required took our focus off of driving sales and staying in front of the next trend. When we  lifted our heads up and began to focus once again on what our customers wanted, we looked around and said “hey, where’d  everybody go?”

Best Products  was the next new thing when we opened. Having a Best Product’s card was a status symbol in many circles. Yet, as I see it now with the benefit of hind-sight, when we acquired Modern Merchandising, we momentarily lost our focus on what our customers wanted just as they were demanding something different. Our customer’s “rate of change externally” was far greater than our “rate of change internally”. The closing of the company was several years later, but the handwriting was on the wall.

So how’s your business? Are you focusing on what’s now or what’s next? If you need some inspiration, maybe you should go have a chicken sandwich.