2015 will be a tipping point for many distributors.

The research for my new book uncovered that 85% of distribution leadership believes they need to reinvent their businesses before someone else does. Secondly, 95% of these leaders feel personally empowered to be a disruptive change agent within their business.

Not a bad recipe for a tipping point to occur in 2015. There is a significant need for change and those of us in leadership positions believe we can make that change happen. Let’s ensure we tip the future in our favor. Here are three truths to guide us as we do.

    Dirk Beveridge

1. Status quo is your enemy

I once was monitoring a strategic planning session that a consultant was leading for a midsized distributor. You should have seen the walls. They were filled with flip charts outlining ideas, strategies, tactics and plans for the coming year. They addressed the changes — big and small — that needed to be made in the business.

As I walked the room, the vice president of operations looked at me with a sign of resignation when she said to me, “We’ve done this before. Nothing changed last time and nothing will come of this either.” The status quo is your enemy and you’re being pulled toward it. Break free now!

The fact is you are surrounded by people who will fight change every step of the way.  But, and this is a (good) big but, you also have people who yearn for change. Find those within your organization who embrace, seek out and relish change. Remove the obstacles for them and set them free to obliterate “the way we’ve always done it.”  


2. Relevance: The new mandate

If there is ever a reason to obliterate the status quo, this is it. More than ever, our relevancy is not guaranteed. The market doesn’t care how many years we’ve been in business, how many brick-and-mortar locations we have or how we saved that customer five years ago.

The definition of adding value is rapidly morphing. Yesterday we were relevant because of the relationships we had, the manufacturers we represented and the knowledge we possessed. Each of these is rapidly being commoditized. Relevancy today demands that we are closer than ever to the customer identifying — more often than not the unarticulated — jobs they need done, the pains they need eliminated and the gains they seek. Remaining relevant then requires we build a business model that allows for the creating, delivering and capturing of this new value.


3. Comfort will disrupt us

New models require looking at things in completely new ways and thinking differently. And it requires that we look at our business as if we have never seen it. That’s not easy to do. We built what we have. We’re proud of what we built and this pride wants us to sustain the status quo (see above).

We do live in the age of disruption. There are fundamental shifts taking place — geo politically, economically, demographically, technologically, we could go on. Each of these fundamental shifts will make us uncomfortable as we enter the unknown.

This unknown future is upon us so let’s embrace it! Let’s lean forward knowing we do so with sweaty palms, vulnerability and with many questions. With all this talk of disruption and disintermediation, the only thing that can disrupt us is our refusal to get uncomfortable. Get uncomfortable now.


What you can do now

Pull your team of change agents together and review the plans for 2015. Ask yourself these four questions:

Have we started to move on the plans?

1. Have we started with massive action or are we waiting for the stars to align?

2. Are our plans 100% focused on hitting numbers for 2015 or is there also a commitment and investment to the innovation, change and transformation that’s required for the future as well?

3. What specifically do you have planned to get closer to your customers?

4. Are we demonstrating through our actions and investment of scarce resources that we are committed to becoming uncomfortable through experimentation and innovation?

I know it’s early in the year, but now is the time to evaluate these truths that will help you tip the future in your favor. Here’s to your future!