You have a great idea, something which will resurrect sales/upend your administration/double production. You’re excited to begin implementing this new concept. I suggest you pause and take a few interim steps:
- Talk to at least three people you respect. Choose people who will have different views of your proposed changes to ensure you are hearing all sides of the issue. Present your case fully and then listen to what they have to say. Don’t argue, just pay attention to the positives and negatives they offer. When you have heard and processed all of the information you will probably have some potential drawbacks you hadn’t considered. Weigh them carefully before proceeding.
- Talk with employees. Almost any major change will affect them in some way. They may be closer to the problem you are trying to fix and have insights you don’t possess. Including them early could also involve them in the potential modifications and elicit their support going forward. An owner who decided to automate part of her warehouse operation was startled to discover that the warehouse would need to be completely rewired and the proposed automation would result in no immediate saving in personnel costs. The warehouse manager understood the underlying problems of conversion.
- You’ve heard of unintended consequences. You will want to carefully consider what unexpected outcomes may arise as a result of the change. One company’s offices had been in an old house, which provided physical separation for employees who spent most of their time on the phone. It also created a sort of camaraderie as the employees maneuvered to overcome some of the obstacles created by many small rooms. The move to a large, open floor plan with employees in cubicles created an unhappy workforce resulting in poor morale and the loss of some employees.
- How will the change alter your employee landscape? Will you need different employees and, if so, will they cost more? Can you find them? Will you need to retrain your current staff and, if so, what will that cost?
- What effect might the change have on company morale and culture? As in the example of the office in a house, change may have unexpected effects on a company’s culture. A single change to the employee roster, especially at higher levels, may upend morale created over many years. Proceed carefully and elicit involvement.
- Run it through the books. Starting with the planning stages, create a cash flow sheet which includes every possible outlay. Include such items as:
- Additional employee time for planning and early changes.
- Physical alterations to the plant even if it’s as small as running additional outlets.
- Additional employees, training for current employees.
- Downtime as a result of change.
- Effect on marketing/branding/PR/website and resulting costs.
- Effect on utilities usage.
- New equipment/vehicles/software and resultant training.
- Modifications to administration/management team.
6. Then look closely at revenue. Be extremely conservative in your estimate of new revenue and remember that changes may result in some lost revenue. If, for instance, you morph your basic donut shop into a café with six varieties of coffee and add Swedish pastries you are likely to lose some of the customers who have were stalwarts of your more modest business
In summary, make no major changes without careful consideration of all possible outcomes, intended and otherwise. Proceed with caution.