Change and innovation is futile, unless...

Just like a computer, a business has an operating system and it has programs. If your business is a PC, then you would have the Operating System (Windows) and you have programmes (Office, Excel, PowerPoint.)

The programmes you use in your business would be things like your Sales Approach, Visual Merchandising, Complaints Handling Procedures and so forth.

But do you know what your Operating System is?

A business, just like a computer, can function without programs although it won’t very useful. But, just like a computer, a business without an OS (or with a dysfunctional OS) is completely useless. The best, most expensive programs in the world will not run unless you have a functional OS.

Your operating system runs in the background and you don’t actually interact with your OS all that much directly. The OS is what makes your computer work and run the programs.

In a retail business, your operating system is:

  • -        how you make decisions
  • -        how you view your customers
  • -        what you look for in your employees
  • -        how you handle conflict
  • -        your innovation orientation
  • -        how you pay your bills
  • -        how you behave at the Christmas party
  • -        Etc.

Collectively, these things are known as your (business) culture. In everyday English ‘culture’ is defined simply as “the way we do things around here.”

  • Whether you are a one-man business with one casual or a big business with thousands of employees, you have a business culture.
  • Whether you intentionally went about creating a certain culture or whether it happened by accident, you have a culture.
  • Your OS can be functional or it can be dysfunctional – either way it determines on how programs are executed.

A few years ago we repositioned a newsagent. There was an expected uplift in sales of course, but not only because we are so good; since the agency was a real dump and the sales increase was off a low base. Interestingly, for the first time in a few years a school kid dropped off a CV to apply for a job. Before that even school kids did not want to work there.

I wish I could dazzle you with a success story, but the reality is that six months later the place was a dump again. We changed the programs (product mix, display, layout etc) but the owner created a culture that determined that the business would revert to its natural state.

We knew it would happen because we did not change the culture. The owner did not understand or accept that he had to change too. You can’t change the programs and ignore the culture because … and here is my favourite quote of all time…

the way you do anything is the way you do everything.

Have fun…


Ganador: Learning & Development for the 21st century retailer dealing with the 21st century consumer.


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