Change is something you have to work at. It takes a strong commitment to create and set off on a new direction. I don’t have to suggest to anyone here that taking on a new direction takes a lot of fortitude, and a little luck as well. But as a career entrepreneur, I've come to realize that it also takes a sustained commitment to looking at things differently in order to develop the aptitude to change the game. And this aptitude doesn't fall out of the sky: you have to train for it.

NRN has a good article that goes into detail about the scale of retraining that some companies are doing now. For instance, Which Wich?, out of Dallas, is building an online library of training programs for its 50 units. ( This is the tip of the iceberg - see the NRN article).

Web tools can help scale the training effort.

This is a time for renewed commitment to re-tooling yourself and/or the employees you have, because:

• You will be doing new things.

• If there have been layoffs in the organization, people may be multi tasking, and doing things unfamiliar to them.

If you have new tasks, new tools may be need, or old tools need to be used in a different way. The metaphor that comes to mind is - working in the backyard on the weekend, it's easy to get fixated on a “git ’er dun” approach and throw your back out in the process - when stepping back and reaching for a wheelbarrow or lever would save you time and money. Right now we have to think really smart about tools and training in our professional lives as well. Can't afford it? Well, we have to.

If you've scaled down your staff, you need to re-imagine how to use your tools, so that they have the leverage they need. This includes, but isn’t limited to, power user training and time learning new tasks.

But retraining isn't limited to high concept stuff. There are some key, mundane aspects of retraining that are critical right now.

I was running a large Deli in 2001 when we were hit by a downturn caused by a combination of external factors. Our sales got hammered in a negative way due to the implosion of the tech sector, the world trade center attacks and the downturn in the markets. OK, so it's not exactly the same as today, but there were success factors that I can apply in this economy.

We responded by doing all the good fiscal things, but at the same time, we branched out into a new product line to drive new revenue. (That's how I got into the catering business). In the process, our FOH staff had to learn a brand new line, which was interesting enough for them. But it wasn't real glamorous. We had to adapt and do some lifting. We also had to learn how to support our taxed BOH staff; new everyday tasks came to include folding menus, assembling boxes, and even helping with prep for the next day's deliveries. Looking back, I remember the long hours, and how much we all went through. But the staff and management that were there came out the other side, stronger, and trained from the ground up in a line of work that was in demand. After the initial layoffs, we pulled through as better, more able, more adapted people.

Are you ready to see yourself and the world differently? Let's hit the gym.

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Comment by John Dumbrille on February 6, 2009 at 11:08am
- from Accendor Research (Twitter observation): "You can trigger chaos through downsizing & not adjusting work. When you do, establish a new fitness landscape. Old order=gone"
Comment by Erle Dardick on February 5, 2009 at 8:37pm
Jim: It's interesting; we work with alot of companies implementing our solutions, so change is so critical to the process. We find that companies that embrace the change have more success.
Comment by Erle Dardick on February 5, 2009 at 7:08am
Thanks for the thoughts Paul. Really appreciate it.

Non-Operator
Comment by Paul Paz on February 5, 2009 at 5:42am
Hey Erle..
Very appropriate post for these times.
Survival doesn't necessarily go to the strongest or the fastest. It goes to those that can adapt"
Paul

Non-Operator
Comment by James Kohn on February 3, 2009 at 7:27pm
The ability and willingness to change is the key to growth and improvement. Thanks for the post; we can never overemphasize the importance of change.

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