Change Is Not Always an Option – Are You Ready?

Three head shaped trees, one green, one yellowing and losing leaves, and one read with half the leaves gone

Change Is Not Always an Option – Are You Ready?

By Margaret Wilson, Tandem Partners & Ann Quinn, Quinn Strategy Group

In a world marked by constant flux and the unforeseen, the ability to adapt is important to individuals and organizations alike. If we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that the readiness of organizations to embrace and navigate change is a strong indicator of long-term success. To illustrate the importance of preparing for change, we’re sharing the stories of three organizations that came to a crossroads, faced adversity head on, and emerged from it even stronger.

True to Their Roots

For many years, a forest products company had been the backbone of the timber industry, employing methods passed down since their founding. When an unexpected environmental crisis put their practices under scrutiny, they faced a stark choice. Determined to preserve both their business and the ecosystem, they invested in modernizing operations and shifted to sustainable forestry practices. These changes allowed them to navigate the crisis and ultimately led to new opportunities to offer eco-friendly timber to a growing market of environmentally conscious clients.

From Growing Pains to Effectiveness

A family foundation invested its corpus wisely and each year had more money to deploy in their philanthropic efforts. While this sounds like a great problem to have, without professional management, the family quickly became overtaxed. The business of running the foundation threatened the very joy the family received from giving. The family clarified the mission, grantmaking parameters, and expectations for family involvement. They streamlined the grant making process and cultivated an advisory board to provide much needed expertise and support. These changes helped re-invigorate the family and rally them around the reasons they established the foundation in the first place.

Serving Up Success

Similarly, the story of an Italian restaurant exemplifies the power of adaptability. For years, the restaurateurs had held on to time-honored recipes passed down through the family, ensuring a loyal, local following. When the pandemic struck, they were determined not to let their business succumb. They quickly built an online presence, partnered with food delivery apps, and reimagined dishes that were more transport friendly. They even started offering virtual cooking classes and were discovered by a whole new set of customers, something that may never have happened in normal times.

While these three organizations appear very different on the surface, their change stories share several themes:

  1. Resilience – In crisis, they maintained a level of stability that allowed them to take action.
  2. Adaptation – They didn’t just respond to change, they initiated transformation on their own terms.
  3. Modernization – Each company recognized the need to evolve and incorporate new technologies.
  4. Community – In a time of change, they leaned on their teams, family, and communities for support.
  5. Core Values – While embracing change, they found new ways to uphold and express their values.

In a world that continually presents new challenges, readiness for change isn’t just a survival skill, it’s the foundation for thriving in the long term. Organizations that fail to foster these skills and mindsets may find themselves falling behind, struggling to survive, or missing out on significant opportunities. Are you ready?