Being comfortable is a curse!
Numerous leaders, managers and business owners in franchise networks, buying groups, cooperatives and branded marketing channels know the feeling only too well.
Endeavours to innovate, create, change and develop can be and often are frustrated, impeded, blocked or compromised by some individuals and businesses within the respective supply chains who are less driven, because they are comfortable. The reasons can be many and varied.
Seldom are the causal factors deliberately and intentionally negative to the aspirations of others.
The scenario does, however, raise question of just why individuals and entities decide to join networks and do not commit to higher order goals.
Throughout the world large percentages of businesses and owners are locked into a time freeze zone, reflected in the presentation of premises, products and people, often exacerbated by antiquated systems, processes and practices. Such people are part of, but do not belong. Often their initial motivation was defensive, to enable them to buy better or to block entry of competitors into discrete marketplaces. Attainment of such objectives is relatively easy and prompt.
Comprehension of, belief in, adherence to and endorsement of the overriding corporate culture is not a consideration in such circumstances. Future focus, beyond immediate term horizons of trading days, weeks and months is beyond the scope of some. Why? Because they are comfortable.
Imagine the number of owners of small to medium sized enterprises whose primary orientation is to generate an income rather than to develop and grow a business.
Blame cannot and should not be attributed to individuals. Their original intentions may have been honourable and appropriate, albeit, largely self centred.
Analysis of relevant alternative, available actions is the realm of leaders and managers in collaboration with the particular individual persons or businesses. An awakening to the possibilities and, often, the inevitabilities may be and often is all that is required. Defining, refining and documenting mutually beneficial goals may be sufficient catalysts to induce change. Allowing the status quo to persist is destructive.
Decisions are the responsibility of all. Everyone is compromised, is impeded or is frustrated when no decisions are made. Similarly, knowingly and unknowingly, everyone benefits from decisive, timely and appropriate decisions. Recognition of the upside may not be immediately apparent to all.
Counter arguments and rationalisations based on the need for the advantages of volume (and thus the need for “numbers”) are flawed. Reflect on the wide variability of standards, presentations and practices of many businesses within single branded networks. Sadly, the lore of the marketplace is that the collective whole is reduced to the lowest common denominator.
Thus, the well being, growth and value of individual businesses within franchise networks, buying groups, branded marketing channels and cooperatives are impacted, often adversely, by the fact that one or more of the group are comfortable.
A sense of comfort is palpable, conspicuous to suppliers, associates and, sadly, consumers and customers.
Comfort is the enemy of excellence, leadership, competitive advantage and growth. It is also a contributor to complacency, inertia and decline. It tends to be a state in which the orientation is now, with little regard or respect of the future.
Comfort can also be caustic, destructive and the initial phase of entropy, the concept that states all things tend towards to a state of disorder.
Some readers of this text will feel comfortable with the message, will file it and will then or move on.
Others will be driven to contemplate a full scope of options and actions. Distractions will arise, some impediments will be encountered and, with the best of intention, they will lapse back to a state of being comfortable.
For a select few, they will contemplate the latent potential which resides within their own business, their network and supply chain. They will be driven to make decisions and to progressively implement such.
These few will then find some comfort in the realisation that the process will start all over again. They may even be inclined to address and redress the issue with those for whom comfort has become the norm.
· Seek out, identify, isolate and analyse instances of comfort.
· Determine the causal factors
· Detail latent potential which is an alternative to comfort
· Address the issue with those for whom comfort is the prevailing norm.
· Seek consensus on remedial actions.
· Where appropriate, agree on the parting of ways, for mutual benefit.
· Pursue and secure cohesive joint policies, practices and actions which avoid comfort and realise the full potential.