BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Adapt or fail.
Smart managers will have that slogan
engraved on a plaque above their office doors
to remind them of the strategies needed for
continued success. Entrepreneurs, especially,
use it as they look for opportunities to bring
new products and services to market or to
modify traditional practices. And existing
firms must meet new competition by
mimicking a challenger’s efforts or by going
a step further in quality or price advantage
— or both.
Many factors, from environment to
economics, dictate change. It’s important to
consider the sometimes subtle differences
between economic and business change. Are
they mutually exclusive or do they interact?
For example, people may prefer the prestige
of having a large automobile, but rising
gasoline prices — an economic factor — or
the effect of exhaust fumes on urban air
quality — an environmental issue — can
affect purchasing decisions.
All things change. The issue, then, is how
A short time on the Internet using the
search term “change management” will bring
up a dozen or more guides, many using
polysyllabic terminology to make the strategy
sound more sophisticated than it really is, in
turn helping to justify high consultant fees.
Translated to plain language, the steps to
managing change come down to:
• Identify what is changing or what needs
• Identify what you need in order to succeed
in a changing world. JOHN T. HARDING retired from The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey, in 1997 after 27 years as a business and
economics writer, copy editor, and wire editor. He was an adjunct instructor at Montclair State University, his Phi Kappa
Phi chapter and alma mater, and at Rutgers University. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Explore the options.
• Decide which plan, approach, or option
best supports your needs and aims.
• Implement that choice.
• Hope it works.
• Ignore Dante’s warning to abandon all
hope, ye who enter here.
When faced with change or the need for it,
start by asking these questions.
• What kind of change is desirable
• Should your firm try to adapt? Why? How?
• How does environmental change affect the
way a firm does business?
Survival of the firm can depend greatly
on the success of your response. Moreover,
in an increasingly interdependent world,
what once seemed to be a far-away condition
no longer is. This may be especially true
of an environmental change such as global
warming. An individual firm can deal with
an economic or business changes, such as
customer income or cultural preferences, but
national or world problems call for industry
or political cooperation.
The International Monetary Fund
warned last fall that “renewed uncertainty
for the global economy” amid “moderate
and uneven” growth calls for international
cooperation to reduce trade imbalances. And
while the U.S. economy was “reassuringly
resilient” last year, according to Lael
Brainard, a member of the Federal Reserve’s
Board of Governors, that’s no guarantee
that growth will continue at a desired rate.
Resilience, after all, implies change, so it’s
imperative to be prepared for downtrends as
well as being hopeful for the up.
Economic interrelationships are so
important that the National Association
for Business Economics devoted its annual
meeting last October to “North America’s
Place in a Changing World Economy.” A
survey of its members forecast real GDP
growth of as much as 2. 8 percent through
2016, while the IMF global forecast called
for as much as 3. 6 percent, according to the
IMF’s Maurice Obstfeld.
Economic predictions like those, however,
are based on the ceteris paribus (other things
equal) assumption — the prediction will be
true if nothing else changes. But in the real
world, things do change, sometimes sooner
that we hope or expect.
So remember the survival slogan: Adapt
or fail. Don’t stay stuck in the past, saying,
“That’s the way we’ve always done it.” At the
same time, don’t embrace change just for the
sake of change.
For works cited, go to www.phikappaphi.org/
DON’T FALL SHORT
WHEN IT COMES TO CHANGE