I’ve been chastised more than once for it, but I often say our distribution industry is incestuous. We hang out with the people we know and are comfortable with. It’s human nature. It makes sense.
But right now, our world doesn’t make sense! To become the disruptor rather than the disrupted, we have to not only embrace but become comfortable with uncertainty.
We have to stop making sense.
Instead, we have to change. We have to stride boldly toward our future, willing to make mistakes, willing to break out of the cycle of sameness and commoditization. We’re being held back by doing what we’ve always done. It’s not working anymore.
Once we accept that, and commit to living in the uncertainty change inevitably brings, answers come more easily, possibilities become reality, innovation can thrive and we can go from mediocre to great. It doesn’t come without discomfort, but what success comes without a price? And isn’t it worth it?
I like to ask people (who are the people who make up the companies they work for) what they stand for. What drives you? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Do you give in to the tyranny of the urgent, get sucked under by the pull of the status quo or do you forge new paths? Are you open to innovation and new ideas?
I firmly believe we need to change how business is done. We need to do it together. No one man or woman is “the company” and can change the company by themselves. Not one of us is as smart as two or more of us working together. In order to achieve meaningful and relevant change, we need to get everyone involved. We need to create bold visions and purposely share that vision with the people we work with — from the C-suite to the warehouse floor.
This is how we’ll lead our teams to better futures. This is how we’ll learn and grow. As I speak to groups each week, I often open by saying “I came in biased. I see the world in certain ways. Am I right or wrong? If I’m wrong, tell me. That’s how I’ll learn. That’s what will personally move me forward.” I have to take a stand if I’m going to ask others to.
I spend so much of my waking day thinking about how we can change our business models and reinvent our industry. It drives me. It’s been the foundation of the work I’ve done these last five years. It’s why I research the state of innovation. It’s why I jumped on reimaging partnerships with a variety of different companies. It’s why I dedicated an entire year of my life to conducting the first-ever research into innovation for the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence.
I’m driven by my belief that we must reinvent our businesses or someone else will. I created our annual innovation summit, UnleashWD, to bring together like-minded, forward-thinking distributors who are driven by change and innovation — distributors who see the writing on the wall and are ready to paint over it and chart their own destiny.
Every year it blows me away to hear from the “ordinary” and “regular” people who are doing extraordinary things, stepping into their purpose and speaking boldly and honestly about what they envision, what they’re afraid of and what they’re driven by. They fire me up.
I’ve put together a short video showcasing a few of these bold leaders. They inspire me every time! Short, pithy and full of wisdom. This is why I get up every morning.
Check it out at: http://dirkbeveridge.com/time-change-rules/.
This article was originally titled “Does your worldmake sense?” in the June 2016 print edition of Supply House Times.