Diary of a Business Woman

Having the Courage to Change

by Joanne Leitschuh

While opening the mail last week, I came across a letter from a computer support agency who was requesting that I consider their services. In big bold letters, there was a quote from John Harvey-Jones' book, Making it Happen: "Not only must people be aware of the need for change, but they must also realise the high risk involved in NOT changing."

"That's right", I thought. Those of us in our wholesale jewellery business have experienced the need for change over these last months. Improvements in market research, product development, inventory control and computer software came through each one of us taking the risk to change our old methods. Initially, it seemed easier to stay with old routines and systems than to step out into new procedures. However, we found that these new ventures, which were well thought through allowed us to attain a higher level of productivity.

During the first stages, there was a lot of research and discussion. What systems were available? What was the best not only for us, but for our factory in Thailand? What portions of our old system still worked but needed only slight enhancements?

A progressive business needs everyone involved to follow new procedures. Have the changes been communicated to the right people at the right time? Are the instructions clear? Can adaptations be made with ease?

Our new accounting system not only made us learn new procedures, but it affected our suppliers as well. In another area, the strategy of introducing 12 jewellery designs per month set a challenging pace for our designers and sales team. Our stock controller was also influenced by this new strategy as he had to re-design the warehouse and place orders more intuitively. Advances in our international inventory encouraged our production director to manage not only his materials but the 80 employees in the factory. Everyone involved has needed patience to wait and see the results as all of these changes unfold.

The more I work with new procedures, the more I see that there is some truth in the saying, "No pain, no gain." However, the benefits of more effective systems seem to quickly heal any wounds! Times like these in the office bring me back to the reality that there is Someone greater than us in control. He brings grace during the process of change and makes every risk invigorating!

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