From globalization to technology, today’s successful companies are adapting and embracing rapid change in our industry and in the business world in general. I’ve witnessed a lot of change in almost 30 years in business, and I’ve found that comparisons with old and new trends can help us all move forward. 

Let’s acknowledge that anyone can imitate, but can we innovate? Our entire culture is based on what’s new—ideas, technology and ways of thinking. As an industry, we are not going to go backward, so keeping our eyes wide open and innovating is what we should all be investing in.

Ultimately, adaptability can help our businesses with recruitment and retention for both clients and employees, and it can often lead to differentiation and stability to help businesses achieve a stronger valuation.

Here are 27 areas where I’m seeing transformation from an old way of thinking to new, better outcomes.

The Old Way Vs. The New Way

1. Anchored to an office vs. working anywhere

2. Top down, rank and file, command and control bosses vs. management that empowers, inspires and encourages a sense of ownership 

3. Made in China vs. made in the USA

4. Wisdom from older generation vs. wisdom from all generations

5. In-house vs. outsource

6. Focused on your business only vs. open source, community-driven mentality

7. Marketing vs. cause marketing

8. Commission-only vs. companies investing in talent through base pay and bonus plans

9. Clock-watching and time card-punching vs. trust

10. Social media inhibiting productivity vs. embracing and leveraging social media

11. Relationship selling vs. challenger selling

12. “Country club” board composition vs. boards with ethnic diversity and diversity of thought

13. Products only vs. products and services

14. Inventory vs. virtual, on-demand

15. Two-three weeks for delivery vs next day, same day and free delivery

16. Reliance on grandpa’s gospel vs. investment in continuing industry education

17. Communication to the masses via email vs. human-to-human conversations with individuals

18. Ignoring HR violations vs. celebrating the change that comes from correcting the people problems in organizations

19. Disregard for safety compliance (“no one will find out”) vs. product safety as a go-to-market strategy

20. Cheap, race-to-bottom products vs. quality products with stellar design and packaging 

21. Product vs. purpose

22. 9-5 vs. flexible work schedules

23. Territorial and protective vs. open-minded idea sharing with “a rising tide raises all ships” mentality

24. Beating up the supplier chain for more, more, more vs. reciprocal investments in long-term relationships with partners

25. Selfish, insular mission vs. bigger picture, longer-term industry vision 

26. Lowest price, best customer service, largest catalog goals vs. real value differentiation

27. Product, price, promotion, place vs. purpose, pride, partnership and personalization

What do you think? And what did I miss?

These precarious and exciting times call for proactive, enthusiastic adaptation and evolution in every business. And as you go through your organization’s future-cast modeling and strategic planning, remember what Jack Welch famously said, “Change before you have to.” 


Danny Rosin, CAS, is co-president of  Morrisville, North Carolina-based distributor Brand Fuel.