During a recent conversation a specialty distributor in New England said, “Paul, you know how certain people are. They just don’t want to change.” He is right.  Even in my own company I sometimes see resistance to doing things differently. Let’s look at that today and see how we can manage that scary thing called change.

Feature Story: Do I have to change?

Many years ago I attended a leadership course at Penn State that focused on Change Management. One of the clear messages at those sessions was that most of us don’t like change and some of us resist change, not only in social settings but also in business settings. As a manager it is critical to introduce change and manage it correctly.

If you say to yourselves, "What does that have to do with the Food Market we are dedicated too?"  Well, the one constant you guys deal with is change.

  • Changing costs
  • Changing buying habits
  • Customers changing vendors
  • New Product introductions
  • New employees
  • etc,etc,etc

One of the important factors in managing change is to understand the different types of people and how they view change. The Resistance Zoo, from www.changingminds.org, represents people in the form of animals and how they interpret and resist change. Take a look at that Zoo and bring that up in conversation with your people and see how they talk about those animals and you’ll be surprised at the truths that you hear.

One of the best ways to handle change is to put metrics (measurements) that reward the type of  behavior you want to see in people. Some examples in your setting could be:

  1. The person in charge of inventory and cycle counts could be incented to keep their inventory exceptions under a certain percentage of total inventory value therefore getting better inventory management and reducing your shrink.
  2. One of my long time customers runs a Picker Productivity Report and incents the picker who is most productive while keeping their pick errors down to a certain tolerable level.


Putting measurable goals in front of your people will help change their business behavior over time.

In most environments changing systems (Order Entry, Bar Coding, etc.) is of the most dramatic changes to a worker's environment.  I have been witness to this many times as we sell “change” to most organizations. Change of systems can truly effect your company and its bottom line.

When changing your organization at that level, in our experience, it is best you develop internal Champions; gals and guys that embrace the change and move it forward. Having these Champions is key to successful implementation, and will help drive the other staff in the correct direction. In one of our recent implementations one of the young managers became a leader for the cause and embraced the project just like it was his own.

Look for those people in your Zoo





Issue 640 - Everything Cycles.

Transformation and disruption was a topic in an article in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. I read about the demise of Sears & Roebuck titled The Big Stumble. They believed they had no competitors. The New York Times dubbed them "The Amazon of the gilded age." Those of us in the baby boom generation remember Sears.  As a young boy I remember thumbing through the catalog, dreaming of what I could buy if I had the money.

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