I was fortunate to have a position with a company and in an industry that allowed me to witness dramatic change over the last 20 years: From NAFTA, to ecommerce and Web 2.0, the change was/is revolutionary and fundamental.
I have witnessed the shuttering of millions of square feet of productive capacity and I was on hand as some great products and brands became cultural litter.
Change takes leadership; because change is a process not a direction. Change is a constant state of being and becoming not going from one to the other. The concept of “constant improvement’ is one that is based upon the idea that one always seeks improvement but never achieves it. Having played basketball all my life, successfully I might add, I realized that after winning a championship an individual can either stop, and enjoy the moment, or one can begin the process of winning all over again.
We talk about empowerment and or teams but we cannot deny the need for leadership. Teams can be dysfunctional without leadership; they do not need a chain of command or organizational chart as much as they need for the members to understand the roles each and every one of them serves within the team. Teams need encouragement rather than empowerment and encouragement requires individual respect and leadership.
If you look at Apple Computers they have embraced change as a constant while Microsoft has made change something to fear; Apple comes out with something new every few months and consumers look forward to the change when Microsoft offers something new it is resisted and feared.
In apparel we witness change constantly; where at one time you had brands of screen printed goods such as Caribbean Soul, Big Dogs Sportswear, Hobie, and of course my favorite, Spuds McKenzie, we now see the change wrought by Threadless and Café Press for example.
One can lead change or be led by change……