In Business, Change Equals Opportunity

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Change. What a curious thing. At times we embrace it for the promise it holds of a better tomorrow and the benefits we stand to gain from it. At times we resist it for fear of being forced out of our comfort zone, left to stand on the threshold of the unknown. Regardless of where we fall on the change-aptitude scale, though, there is one inescapable and irrefutable fact that every one of us must face: In business, as in life, change is inevitable. The question each of us must answer is, how do we deal with it at a personal and organizational level?

As a business owner, entrepreneur, or manager, your ability to deal with change will greatly influence your ability to effectively lead your organization through the inevitable twists and turns brought about by… well, life. There’s no stopping it. Things change. We can either sit back and wait for it to happen, or we can make it happen. You can be reactionary, or you can be revolutionary. You pick.

Effective leaders, though, are change agents. Effective leadership means never standing still, never settling, always striving. Successful companies are always on the cutting edge, at the forefront, leading their industries. If the recent global recession has taught us anything, it’s that there isn’t a company – large or small – that can’t go bankrupt or out of business. Change. Those organizations that spend their time reacting to, or resisting, change will not only struggle (or worse), they will miss out on opportunities for growth and innovation. No, in business change isn’t only inevitable, change is opportunity.

That’s what my friend, Marlon Hill, of delancyhill PA, recognized when he and his partner, Michelle Delancy, reassessed the future of their law practice in light of the economic recovery. Without having to delve very deep into their story, I can already pick out a valuable first lesson for dealing with change: Timing. Marlon and Michelle identified the burgeoning recovery as a marker in time, a transition point of emergence from a difficult economic situation – brought about by change – to a more stable economic future which will in turn bring about even more change.

As a full-service law firm catering to small businesses, delancyhill analyzed the changing needs of their client base, as well as their own, and determined that their primary considerations were to make the law firm more accessible to the client, to develop a more efficient operation, and to create a greater balance for the quality of life for their attorneys. That thought process led them to rethink something as fundamental as the need for a traditional law office space versus a dispersed office of convenient satellite locations utilizing the extent of technology.

When I spoke to Marlon I could sense his resolve. “This is a leap of faith in thinking differently about a profession that is at times viewed as more conservative. We wish to break the rules and not be fearful of change or even worse, failure. We’re not waiting for the future – we are confronting its reality right now. We wanted to be leaner and meaner for the improving economy.” I was inspired. Revolution at its best versus reaction at its worst brought on by changing needs, aka: Need for Change.

The firm has downsized its physical space without downsizing attorneys and staff creating not only efficiency but tremendous goodwill amongst the entire team. They replaced their main office in Downtown Miami with three strategically-located satellite offices thereby giving their clients the power to choose which location to visit based on convenience – unless, of course, the client would prefer to meet anywhere else. Each attorney has the capability to connect to their desk and files from any location – including one of their satellite offices or directly from a client’s office or their home through personal laptops and personal WiFi connections. Another interesting component of their strategic plan includes the process to eliminate all paper and files from delancyhill operations – where all client mail and documents will be accessed through a “cloud” server which is being housed in Terremark’s network access point, NAP of the Americas facility in Downtown Miami. For additional information on this facility or on cloud computing for your business, visit the Resource Center at www.mgtunon.com.

But no change, even the most beneficial, is ever easy or worry-free. Marlon realizes that one of the challenges they face in the short term will be to get all their attorneys used to the new “normal” and to get into the proper flow of communication and interconnectivity. That said, with the move having been made official at the end of 2010, Delancy Hill opened the new decade celebrating their tenth anniversary, and an immediate reduction in operational costs of at least 50%. Additionally, Marlon sees a new opportunity for delancyhill – the potential for growth in adding other attorneys through a “plug and play” platform that is complementary to their practice and shares their vision and values.

Inevitability. Opportunity. As the great Sam Cooke once sang, “It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know a change gonna come.” I say bring it on.

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