Let’s talk about change.
More specifically, the changing of things that were “built around systems designed to respond to the social structures and technologies of the industrial age” and “ought to be fundamentally rethought for the one we live in now,” according to Tim Brown, president and chief executive of IDEO.
In The New York Times Magazine article titled “Makeover Mania: Inside the 21st Century Craze for Redesigning Everything,” I was struck by two more points made by Tim Brown. First, “we’ve potentially never been in a period of history where there are so many things that are no longer fit for purpose.” Second, “progress may entail change, change does not necessarily guarantee progress.”
One of the amazing and irreplaceable blessings of Kimray’s heritage is a reputation for product excellence built on a catalog of amazing and innovative products.
However, the very real and present danger of that same heritage is that all of our products are on track to be “no longer fit for purpose.” That’s right, all of them. I don’t have a crystal ball, and I don’t know the details of when and how our products will become obsolete. I simply look at history and notice that nothing stands still, and the things we use and see today don’t look much like what we used and saw “yesterday.” This tells me the same thing is happening to our products.
In The New York Times Magazine article, there are several stories of product or brand redesign that made perfect sense, yet they were rejected by the very people the redesign would have served. How can that be? How can people not accept change that makes things better?
Change is scary. Change is unnerving. Change hurts. That’s why we don’t change. That’s why when presented with a potential future that is better but different, we sometimes turn away. We struggle because we attach so much of our identity and present happiness to what we know and can touch. It is sometimes impossible to let it go for something obviously better.
How do we avoid this at Kimray?
First, we must practice change. In many ways, change is like other disciplines. We can get better at it if we practice it. I think we have made a great start in this regard. So much is different now. We are on our way to being fit for change.
Next, we need to know what to change. Like Tim Brown said, “change does not necessarily guarantee progress.” Being open to outside influence, listening to our customers, listening to experts in other industries, and in general looking for positive input anywhere we can find it can vastly improve our chances to recognize the things that are ripe for change and weed out the redecorating type of change.
Finally, we have to be humble. The greatest hindrance to positive and beneficial change is the notion that we are already right, already the best, already ahead. We are not. At every moment, we are only one moment away from being passed by someone with less history, less knowledge, less experience…and less to lose.
In Jesus’s day, the world was full of people who had much to lose and thought they possessed the keys to success. Jesus bypassed them and went straight to those who had been humbled by their circumstances and the world around them. They had nothing to lose, but more importantly, they were unfettered by the belief that they knew how to win. They were losing, and they knew it. So given the chance to choose a new future, they readily gave up the worthless temporal existence they had and chose a fantastic eternal one.
The cosmic joke was that everyone was losing! The religious leaders and successful people of the day were in just as much trouble as the poor and uneducated; they were just too blind to see it. I don’t want to be that way. I don’t want Kimray to be that way either.
Let’s not let history paint Kimray as the industry equivalent of the Pharisees. We can put our past success in its appropriate place—something to be very proud of but not something to count on for the future.
I know there is a future for Kimray that is full of promise, wonder, and amazing things. I know we are capable of change, innovation, and fantastic opportunities.
If we remain humble and willing to change, we can make that future a reality.