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Swim or drown: how to reinvent yourself as a company

By Tina De Maere  – November 25, 2022


The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is widely regarded as the inventor of the phrase ‘panta rhei (“everything flows”). This saying still counts today. In modern times, everything is in a constant state of motion: new technologies and theories spring up like mushrooms and for companies, this has various consequences.

After all, businesses need to constantly reinvent themselves to stay relevant. In the modern world, it’s either swim or drown for companies that are trying to stay in business, even the big ones: either you stay on top of the newest developments, or you go under. 

But how can you stay relevant in a world in which everyone is trying to do the same? And why is all this so important anyway? In this blog, we’ll explain why.

Businesses have to update themselves to stay afloat

Enterprises can mainly lose relevance in one of two ways.

First of all, there’s the external side. Companies either sell or rent goods or services to customers. However, these products have to be evaluated constantly. Maybe, they are not fulfilling the needs of the customers anymore, or they have been replaced by other, better items from your competitors.

Imagine, for example, that you’re still trying to sell record players. Except for people who are into retro or old fashioned stuff, you will have a hard time finding any new customers.  Other people have replaced their turntables with BOSE speakers and a spotify premium subscription a long time ago.

Equally important is the ‘internal’ part. Apart from updating your products, the organisation and management of your company also has to be evaluated on a regular basis. This is necessary to guarantee a quality outcome for your clients. Imagine, again, that you’re running a company without internet or e-mail and you’re still doing everything by fax and hand written letters. It would be impossible to stay afloat in the modern world with such a ‘dinosaur’ approach.

Employees have a unique insight in your business

But how, then, can one try to keep his business relevant to customers? There are, of course, multiple ways to stay updated on all sorts of new developments, whether they are scientific, technological, economic, psychological, or of a completely different nature.

First of all, it’s important to keep reading and listening about all sorts of new technologies that are appearing on the market. They can help you to adjust your products to the changing needs of your customers. 

Next to that, listening to your own workers and colleagues can be a life-changing experience. These people are not only working for your company: they are the company. Employees can give you a unique insight in how well your business is managed and which changes might be needed to optimise the organisation of their daily activities. Organising a brainstorm to facilitate the exchange of ideas can be an excellent tool to reach those goals.

But, however effective those strategies may be, they will likely not suffice for your enterprise. That’s why we want to propose another technique, which we call the “seed method“. 

The seed method: you can’t harvest without planting first

Like many things in life, the outcome of your choices is very difficult to predict. It’s impossible to know what the future holds exactly. However, it’s only by trying out new things and forging new paths that this veil can be lifted. The more chances you give to your company to discover new things – and thus the more “seeds” you plant – the more you will find out about which technologies, methods or theories can help your business move forward. After all, it’s only after you’ve planted those seeds that the harvesting of the fruits can begin.

That’s why our advice is to keep an open mind and tread as many new paths as possible every time you get the opportunity to do so. This counts for all the departments of your company: from production to manufacturing, from marketing to sales, from legal to sustainability. 

Heraclitus taught us that the whole world is in a constant flux. It’s impossible to know where the river is flowing next; so why not just go with the flow?

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