The Adoption Challenge


For years now visionaries have been saying things like ‘change is coming’, ‘this is a new day’, ‘get on board or be left behind’. Rather than jump on board, the common human response is to challenge the speaker:

  • What does he know?
  • Who does she think she is?
  • I haven’t felt anything like that yet.

Sometimes this is exactly what must be done, for a time. The hearer attempts to discern who is selling snake oil, and who has a better looking glass. Often this is not about strength, or financial backing, or the loudest voice. Most people, after thinking through the claims of the presenter, can draw sensible conclusions about the soundness of the message, even if they cannot yet clearly see the steps to address the situation at hand.

The next stage usually has its roots in complacency:

  • That person doesn’t play in my backyard
  • I am immune to that sort of situation
  • I already have the best mouse trap
  • I will be retiring in 4 years. This is not the time for sweeping change
  • Our MLS is good enough for our members, and good enough to support our association
  • Zillow will never be a big deal, and even if they were, they are NOT competition
  • Redfin! What an absurd idea! You can’t have agents as employees!
  • People depend on me for my knowledge and experience. No computer could EVER match that!

If you just read that list and recognized at least 4 that represent your current thinking, this article is not for you. But please consider inviting us to your retirement party. We appreciate your past contributions.

On the other hand, if you recognize some of those thoughts from your past, and/or from those around you, please keep reading. You are the hope of the future!

Over the past few years many leaders have gone through three phases regarding our industry:

  1. Identifying the trends that will significantly alter the future
  2. Beginning to decide what course of action to take
  3. Figuring out what minor, innocuous changes could be made to draw a bit closer to the new chosen course of action

By now, some leaders are seeing that the tasks they pursued were too small. This is not the time for small tweaks to ‘the way we have always done it”. This is the time for major overhaul, for re-engineering the processes that drive our vision, our profitability, our very future.

The leaders that are doing this today will be household names next year. The rest of us will be trying to decide how to redecorate our work area.

If you are choosing to be a major overhaul/re-engineering leader, more power to you! This is not about killing off all the things you invested in. This is about sorting through your toolbox, lightening the load of the tools that are no longer helpful, and rebuilding the processes that need to be changed for tomorrow – even for today. Keep in mind that, just because you have not yet learned how to use that laser measure to be more accurate and work faster, it is not time to throw out that tool. Learn how to use it, and make it part of your new processes.

Those who take on this work are ‘engaged’ leaders. Overcome the misconception that maybe a title change would fix everything.  This is not about being labelled an ‘engaged’ leader. This is about being one, whether or not someone calls you one.

“Engaged” leaders are:

  • Actively learning (just about every day)
  • Systematically sorting their tools
  • Tenaciously reviewing and re-engineering each process
  • Energetically championing their vision of the future
  • Enthusiastically inspiring their co-laborers
  • Advocating for the future of those they are entrusted to lead
  • Laboring on their ‘cause’ based teams

This is not to say that all change is good change. It is certainly not to say that the optimal future will be defined by a democratic process. If the first step of daily active learning and analysis is skipped, and if leaders ignore the charts that are available to them, the remaining steps will not necessarily result in a bon voyage.

No one plans to fail. But few stumble into success. Intently study your customers’ desires and expectations – not just once, but on an ongoing basis, because their desires and expectations change as they see what your competitors are doing. Carefully consider what the visionaries are saying. For those that ring with truth, whether it is comfortable of uncomfortable, seek out opportunities to learn much more from them. And, ALWAYS, resist the charms of the snake oil salesmen.

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