The illusion of success at ‘We’ve Been Here for a While Co.’

07 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
The illusion of success at  ‘We’ve Been Here for a While Co.’

eBusiness Weekly

Tariro Manamike

“Change before you have to.” — Jack Welch

The employees at We’ve Been Here for a While Co. sat in the boardroom, a fancy projector that no one could operate for some reason sat in the corner, unused. A beautiful, expensive mahogany table and top-of-the-range leather chairs set the scene.

The chef brought in nice-smelling coffee and sandwiches, a touch that made perfect sense to everyone at this table. After all, no meeting is ever complete without snacks.

Sales had taken a nosedive, employee morale had hit rock bottom, and the boardroom was practically oozing with cluelessness.

Every member of the team boasted lofty titles, flaunting their impressive academic credentials as if they were badges of honour in the realm of change management.

Remarkably, three executives were currently indulging in the pursuit of PhDs, evidently believing that the weight of their pending doctoral degrees would magically transform the situation. Yet, despite their illustrious qualifications, the team remained stubbornly inert.

Policies and procedures stagnated like forgotten relics, gathering dust while no one bothered to give them a second thought, much less consider adapting them in any meaningful way. Oh, but of course, why fix what is not broken, right?

The CEO, Mr Oldschool, leaned back in his chair, “Alright team, we need to talk about our finances. Sales are down and it isn’t looking good, I hear employee morale is low, and frankly speaking you can never win with employees but we just have to appease the situation. We need solutions. Ideas, anyone?”

Everyone around the table shifted uncomfortably. Despite their impressive titles and high levels of education, the room was filled with uncertainty.

The chief marketing officer, Ms Nostalgia, sipped her coffee thoughtfully.

“We’ve been following the same policies and procedures for years. Let’s focus on our key strengths and areas of expertise to maintain a competitive edge. We just need to stick to our guns. Things will turn around. Remember we faced a similar situation in 2018 and things turned out just fine?”

The chief financial officer, Mr Finance, nodded in agreement.

“Our fundamentals are strong. We just need to ride this out.”

In support of his statement, he reached for a graph that he had meticulously prepared. The graph, dating back to 2010, vividly illustrated the company’s resilience in the face of adversity. Despite encountering economic downturns and market fluctuations over the years, the graph depicted a consistent pattern of recovery and growth.

As he delved into the details, Mr Finance emphasised the company’s prudent financial management, strategic investments, and unwavering commitment to delivering value to stakeholders.

“Yes, the economy may be experiencing turbulence,” he acknowledged.

“But we’re on the right course. Our steadfast adherence to sound business principles and our unwavering focus on executing our strategic vision will see us through these challenging times.”

His words resonated with some of the executives in the meeting, instilling a sense of confidence and determination.

Despite the prevailing economic headwinds, there was a palpable sense of optimism in the room. With Mr Oldschool’s leadership and the company’s strong fundamentals, there was no doubt that they would navigate through the storm and emerge even stronger on the other side.

The human resources director, Ms Binder, flipped through her notes.

“About the employee engagement being a bit low. Perhaps some more team-building exercises? That should motivate them to be better at sales. Those always make people refreshed, give them some time out of the office.”

“And we can give them some branded corporate gifts,” Ms Nostalgia added gleefully.

“They always seem to like those.”

The head of sales, Mr Sell-well, paused before addressing the executive team, his expression reflecting the complexities of the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) environment they were operating in.

“In light of the VUCA environment we’re navigating,” he began, “How are we adjusting our sales strategy to cope with the volatility and uncertainty in the market? With the recent geopolitical shifts, such as trade tensions impacting open markets, how are we ensuring our sales approach remains agile and resilient?”

His voice conveyed a sense of urgency, underscoring the imperative for swift and adaptive action in the face of these challenges.

“We are still using the old e-commerce strategy,” Mr Sell-well interjected, his tone tinged with frustration.

“We’ve been lagging behind in online sales, and it’s costing us dearly. Our competitors are capitalising on the e-commerce boom, while we’re still stuck in the past.”

He glanced around the room, meeting the eyes of each executive in turn.

“Our website is outdated, clunky, and frankly embarrassing. Customers expect a seamless online experience, and we’re failing to deliver.”

Mr Sell-well’s words hung in the air, punctuated by a collective unease among the executives. It was no secret that the organisation’s reluctance to invest in its online presence was hindering its ability to compete in the digital marketplace.

“We need to prioritise our e-commerce initiatives,” Mr Sell-well continued, his voice gaining momentum.

“But we can’t do that without the necessary resources. The funds earmarked for website updates have been tied up for months, and it’s crippling our ability to innovate and adapt.”

His frustration was palpable as he implored the executive team to take action.

“We can’t afford to ignore the online sales channel any longer. The longer we delay, the further behind we’ll fall. It’s time to release the funds and invest in our future.”

The questions hung in the air, challenging the status quo of the company’s approach to sales. It struck at the heart of the matter: was the organisation truly responsive to the evolving needs and expectations of its customers?

As the head of sales, Mr Sell-well was acutely aware of the competitive landscape. He had seen first-hand how rival companies were leveraging new technologies and innovative customer engagement tactics to gain an edge in the market.

The pressure was on to keep pace, to stay ahead of the curve, but the inertia within the organisation seemed insurmountable.

His query was not merely rhetorical; it was a call to action. It demanded a reassessment of the company’s sales strategy, a willingness to embrace change, and a commitment to innovation. It was a challenge to the fixed mindset that had permeated the organisation for far too long.

The silence that followed Mr Sell-well’s questions was deafening. The executive team exchanged uneasy glances, grappling with the implications of his inquiry. It was a moment of truth, a crossroads where the path forward was uncertain but rife with possibility.

“Nonsense,” Mr Oldschool retorted, his voice echoing with the stubbornness of decades-old traditional business practices.

“Social media is a fad. People want face-to-face interaction, just like the good old days.”

His words reverberated in the room, met with a mixture of disbelief and exasperation from the rest of the executives.

Mr Oldschool, known for his unwavering adherence to outdated methods, remained steadfast in his conviction that traditional marketing practices still held sway in the modern world.

“But sir, with all due respect,” one of the younger executives interjected tentatively, “statistics show that online engagement and digital marketing strategies are driving significant growth for our competitors.

We can’t afford to ignore the potential of social media and e-commerce.”

Mr Oldschool waved off the objection dismissively, his confidence unshaken.

“Statistics can be manipulated to suit any agenda,” he countered.

“I’ve built this company on the principles of door-to-door sales and handshake deals. That’s what our customers respond to.”

His insistence on clinging to the past bordered on arrogance, his refusal to acknowledge the shifting landscape of consumer behaviour and technology a glaring blind spot in his reasoning. But to Mr Oldschool, the tried-and-true methods of yesteryear were still the gold standard, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

“We’ve survived downturns, recessions, and economic upheavals using these methods,” he declared defiantly.

“And mark my words, they’ll see us through this so-called digital revolution as well.”

The tension in the room was palpable as the clash of ideologies played out before them. While some executives silently questioned the wisdom of Mr Oldschool’s approach, others couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps there was a kernel of truth buried beneath his stubborn exterior.

But as the world continued to evolve at an unprecedented pace, it was becoming increasingly clear that clinging to the past might not be enough to secure the company’s future.

As he spoke, Mr Oldschool gestured grandly with his fountain pen, a relic of bygone eras, as if wielding it like a sceptre of authority over the room. His words dripped with irony, a stark contrast to the digital age unfolding outside the boardroom’s mahogany doors.

Meanwhile, the Mr Finance, leaned back in his chair with an air of dismissiveness, as if he held all the answers in the palm of his hand.

“I couldn’t agree more,” he interjected, his tone dripping with condescension.

His arrogance was palpable, a testament to his unwavering belief in his own infallibility. He dismissed the notion of adapting to new technologies with a wave of his hand, confident in his ability to dictate the course of the company based on his own outdated perceptions of consumer behaviour.

But Mr Sell-well knew better. He had his finger on the pulse of the market, attuned to the ever-changing preferences of modern consumers. Yet his attempts to steer the conversation toward innovation fell on deaf ears, drowned out by the CEO’s bluster and bravado.

It was a frustratingly familiar scenario, one in which progress was stifled by the narrow-mindedness of those in power. And as the debate raged on, Mr Sell-well couldn’t help but wonder how much longer the company could afford to ignore the winds of change blowing just beyond the boardroom walls.

Just then, the IT guy, Tim, popped his head in.

“Um, excuse me, but the projector isn’t working because it hasn’t been updated in years. Just like our software. And, uh, our website.”

Everyone ignored Tim. After all, what did he know? He was just an IT guy.

Mr Oldschool continued, “Now, let’s focus on the important stuff. We need to make sure our office looks top-notch for when clients visit. I’m thinking of marble floors in the lobby.”

Ms Binder clapped her hands.

“Perfect! The building aesthetics do matter! Nothing like a fresh coat of paint. That should boost morale!”

And so, We’ve Been Here for a While Co. continued down the same path, blissfully ignoring the changing world around them. They never understood why their competitors flourished while they stagnated. Their fixed mindsets kept them anchored in the past, unable to adapt, innovate, or grow.

As the meeting adjourned, the executives at We’ve Been Here for a While Co. patted themselves on the back for another “productive” weekly meeting. The chef brought in another round of sandwiches, and everyone felt very pleased with themselves.

“See?” Mr Oldschool said, biting into his sandwich.

“We’re on the right path, We are.”

The moral of the story: A company cannot grow if its decision-makers are of a fixed mindset, no matter how fancy their boardroom is. Adaptation and agility are essential for survival and success in an ever-changing business landscape.

Case in point: Blockbuster’s downfall

The scene at We’ve Been Here for a While Co. was eerily reminiscent of Blockbuster’s inability to adapt to the digital revolution.

While Netflix embraced new technology and customer preferences, Blockbuster clung to its outdated business model, focusing on physical stores and late fees. By the time Blockbuster recognised the need for change, it was too late.

Their failure to adapt and focus on customer needs led to their downfall, a fate that We’ve Been Here for a While Co. seemed destined to follow if they didn’t change their approach.

In the end, the story of We’ve Been Here for a While Co. serves as a cautionary tale. Agility and adaptation are crucial in today’s fast-paced business environment. Clinging to old ways and ignoring market dynamics can lead to obsolescence.

The executive team’s failure to prioritise meaningful change over superficial fixes was their undoing, highlighting the absurdity of their approach to business.

In the animal kingdom, the octopus stands as a remarkable example of adaptability with its unique set of traits, it showcases a mastery of adaptation across various environments.

Perhaps most notably, the octopus possesses an extraordinary ability to camouflage, swiftly changing its skin colour and texture to blend seamlessly with its surroundings.

This chameleon-like skill aids in evading predators and surprising prey, demonstrating its immediate and context-driven adaptation.

Furthermore, the octopus boasts remarkable intelligence, capable of solving complex problems, navigating mazes, and even employing tools.

Its lack of a rigid skeleton enables it to contort and squeeze through tight spaces, showcasing a physical adaptability unparalleled in many other species.

Additionally, the octopus’s capacity for regeneration ensures resilience in the face of injury, further enhancing its survival prospects.

Its diverse diet and habitat range underscore its ability to adapt to changing food availability and environmental conditions, making the octopus a true exemplar of adaptability in nature.

Now back to earth . . .

One example of a company that is constantly shifting to do better is Amazon. From its origins as an online bookstore, Amazon has evolved into a global e-commerce giant offering a vast array of products and services.

Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, has been known for his relentless focus on innovation and customer satisfaction, driving the company to continually adapt and improve.

Amazon’s success can be attributed to its commitment to embracing change and experimentation. The company is known for its willingness to take risks and invest in new ventures, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has become a leading provider of cloud computing services.

Additionally, Amazon has expanded into various industries beyond e-commerce, including streaming media, artificial intelligence, and grocery retail.

Amazon’s culture of innovation and agility is reflected in its organisational structure, which prioritises decentralised decision-making and encourages employees to think creatively.

The company’s emphasis on data-driven decision-making and customer feedback also enables it to quickly identify areas for improvement and iterate on its products and services.

Overall, Amazon’s ability to adapt to changing market dynamics and customer preferences has enabled it to maintain its position as a leader in the global business arena.

Book suggestion: “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” is a groundbreaking book by psychologist Carol Dweck that explores how our beliefs about our abilities can impact our lives profoundly.

Tariro Manamike is a seasoned media and public relations professional with over a decade of experience in broadcast journalism and strategic communication. She is passionate about human-centered design, business communication, and their impact on the bottom line. Tariro writes in her personal capacity and can be reached at [email protected].

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