REFINING BEST PRACTICES WITH THE NEW GUARD
By Alexis Wier
Venture capitalists and big-pocket investors bet on business concepts that reject conventional business models in favor of new ideas that increase efficiency, provide superior service and generate greater profits. These ‘disruptors’ include Uber deconstructing the taxi business, Airbnb in the hospitality industry and Dollar Shave Club for men’s personal products.
Established companies with official policies to consider out-of-the-box ideas promote change, motivate employees and help ensure long-term growth. New employees often generate new ideas. The average age of the founders of Airbnb, Dollar Shave Club and Uber is 30.8 years old, proving the New Guard within every company can inform the Old Guard in order to refine best practices.
Create Relationships with Customers
With the advent of social media every individual has the same platform as the largest multi-national to voice their opinion. Feedback is instantaneous, facts are often an after-thought and responses have the potential to be viewed by the entire online community. The old expectation of privacy during correspondence does not apply online, and this is a key notion of ‘old-style’ thinking that many experienced CEOs must shed. Similarly, the very openness of social media offers an unprecedented opportunity to create a dialog with consumers that can enhance product benefits faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Speed Up the Change Cycle
All that back and forth dialog established with customers through online channels should be acted upon immediately. The key element for more experienced CEOs to understand about this point is that the definition of ‘immediately’ has changed because the timeframe to craft a response has compressed over time. In the past, any suggestion to change established business practices meant forming an internal committee that would evaluate the issue and then provide a recommendation for the board to consider prior to a decision being rendered. If the suggestion made it past the initial hurdle, additional time would be required to determine the best implementation methods. Today, corporate structures eliminate extraneous layers of decision-making by either empowering lower level managers to initiate policy changes or concentrating this power into the hands of a few executives. This may sacrifice a small amount of caution in favor of responsiveness and decisiveness, which, if the decision proves in error, usually more than compensates in the public eye compared with bureaucracy, procrastination and inaction.
Remain Authentic, Not Obstinate
Successful businesses maintain their core values in the face of changing business climates and fortunes. More experienced CEOs confuse this concept with keeping their products the same over time. The, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” lesson from outdated business school courses is a sure way to lose market share. Opening discussion in meetings to include fresh perspectives and new viewpoints that may challenge established norms is an important element of long-term planning. Often in hierarchical management structures, such dissent is likened to treason or betrayal. On the contrary, such behavior, if respectfully presented and researched, should be welcomed and not simply tolerated. This requires a change in corporate environment that must start at the top. It may be necessary for the older CEO to gain the self-confidence necessary to welcome constructive dissent with the knowledge that the exercise will help maintain a competitive advantage.
Jade, Alexis and Brooke are three sisters, all under 26 years old, who run the Austin-based fashion company Jadelynn Brooke. Founded in 2014 when they saw a need for young women’s casual sportswear reflecting their southern spirit and positive outlooks, the company’s growth includes their current availability in 750 points of sale throughout 22 states. Each sibling oversees separate corporate responsibilities. Their management expertise is constantly expanding.