They say change is as good as a holiday. They also say not to change a winning recipe. What do they mean? Are we to wait with change until the recipe is not a winning one anymore? How important is change? And even more importantly, when do we have to make this change?
Vinexpo announced some big changes to their global show format, organisers of the London Wine Fair are positive about visitor numbers since introducing some important changes and locally, the famous 44-year old Nederburg Auction has introduced a new format and a new name – the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction.
Sometimes we change in reaction to something that does not work anymore. The London Wine Trade Fair had dwindling numbers of both visitors and exhibitors and had to come up with a new format. Sometimes the recipe still works, but those involved foresee that change is required to keep it that way. This is the type of change I think we have to consider. Change that is not born out of failure, but out of insight and forward thinking.
In my opinion, we do not make enough time to think. More than ever before, we have access to information. Technology gives us accurate figures, we can determine interest in detail and if we take the time to interpret the wealth of information, we can make very good decisions. As the world gets smaller, we can see trends coming, we can learn from what is happening in other countries. The trend for nationalism that we saw both in the election of Trump and the vote for Brexit, is a good example. We are empowered to make change in a timely fashion. But does this happen?
Despite all the information available, we need interpretation of the information. We need to be honest with ourselves when we look at the results and we need to be brave in making the call for change. I am not saying change for the sake of change, but clinging to the status quo because we do not want to rock the boat, will not make you a leader.
Making wine without alcohol is a good example. If you are a traditional wine producer, there really is nothing easy or simple about producing a low-alcohol or de-alcoholised wine. Health and lifestyle trends show, however, that today’s consumer wants such an option. Attempting this change will challenge your business model, your knowledge and expertise and it will cost you money. Of course there are no guarantees for success, but if you don’t react to the information available and the trends forecasted, you are guaranteed of one thing – to miss the boat.
Of course there is risk in change, but there is also risk in not changing. Having a successful business is all about managing risk and making it work for you.
Sometimes you have to take a good look at yourself and institute a change that is difficult. A few years ago, the well-known South African wine brand, Graham Beck, decided to stop the production of still wines and only focus on their acclaimed sparkling wines. This is a brave choice. One that is born from using the data available, actually interpreting the information and thinking about what it means to your company.
As I am writing, I know that there is much for me to think about. Whether the format of our offering is still relevant and for how long it will stay that way, what impact we have on the environment, how the political environment will affect us and our responsibility towards socio-economic challenges. Interpreting research and trend information in an honest way can be daunting, but if you want to be a leader – if you want to make a change – you can’t shy away.