This article was taken from the August edition of Proteuslife magazine.

When we hear the word reinvent, it conjures up all sorts of thoughts and emotions, but usually people think that it means to completely change who we are, what we look like and what we do. In some situations all of these things will need to change, but the real meaning of reinvention is not to start again, but to create a new version of something.

Over the past ten years I can bring to mind many situations where I have seen this happen.

Let’s take Australia’s Pop Princess Kylie Minogue. Love her music or hate it, she was brave enough to stand up against her critics, take what she had and build on it, creating many new looks and song styles to become one of the most successful Australian performers and brands in the past two decades. She didn’t move to a new career, she built on what she knew.

Then there was McDonalds restaurants. After a public outcry regarding the health risks associated with eating their high fat food, they went about reinventing themselves. They didn’t stop doing what they were doing, but instead they created a line of healthier foods giving people options at their restaurants. It was possibly one of the most successful marketing and reinvention strategies that we have witnessed in recent times. Not only did they survive the public outcry, they were praised for their initiatives and took their business to a whole new level.

And what about Nespresso? They have taken their brand and adapted it so that it is possible for every person to have a café standard coffee machine in their home. They introduced the pod concept; a concept that had been in the market for sometime, but they took it to another level with their beautiful packaging and different flavours.

Even the bag you walk away with when purchasing your pods makes you feel like you have purchased a top class product.

I could go on and on talking about people and organisations that observed a change needed to take place and invested their time and resources to take themselves and their companies to that next level.

However, just as we have witnessed great positive stories about reinvention, there are unfortunately many more stories relating to people and organisations that were not prepared to adapt. Rather, they decided to dig their heels in, believing that what worked in the past would continue to work forever and in doing so lost everything. As sad as this is, they had choices; they just made the wrong ones!

I can remember speaking to company representatives and leaders in the middle of the global financial crisis and advising them that they could not come out of it looking the same as they went in, changes had to be made. The world and the way we do business has changed forever and we must adapt.

I saw organisations that recognised this absolutely soar in the tough times, but I also saw stubborn people and businesses that played it safe, believing that if they just hung in there and closed their eyes, then eventually things would sort themselves out. Well that did not happen for many of them!

So what does this mean for us now?

In the past, reinvention usually took place because someone thought that it might be a good idea. They had time to plan and to put strategies into place that could be rolled out over a period of time. Well, not only has that period of time shortened considerably, the decision to make change and reinvent has in many instances been taken out of our hands. We now live in a business world where we either change or we die.

Global markets, governments, environmental issues, flexible work forces and many other things now dictate how we run our businesses. Although many of the choices about why we need to reinvent have been taken out of our hands, how we reinvent is still very much our decision.

Release your inner entrepreneur

It used to be that entrepreneurs were a select breed of people known for their risk taking and their ability to get things done.

Today every leader needs to be an entrepreneur; constantly looking for ways to keep their business ahead of the pack and keep them relevant to the ever changing needs of their clients.

Now, for some this is a daunting thought; they do not see themselves as entrepreneurs or change agents!

Then this is where the first reinvention needs to start – in their heads. Every leader must have the ability to create and to lead change. That is why we call them leaders – they must lead.

So how do we start this journey of reinvention in the mind of a leader?

Get rid of preconceived ideas

The first thing that needs to happen is to get rid of preconceived ideas. As I said earlier, this does not mean throwing out your value system or the things that you have worked on and achieved in the past, quite the contrary. It means that we take those things and prepare our minds to be bold enough to move them to the next level, or if necessary, replace them with something more relevant.

But we must be prepared to get rid of those preconceived ideas that are often out of date and really just an area of comfort. It really is OK to change our mind and re-evaluate our thought processes. Things around us change and so must we.

Types of reinvention

Secondly, we must understand what we are trying to achieve when we reinvent. In my experience there are two types of reinvention that businesses adopt.

1. Survival Reinvention

This is when we introduce just enough change to get us through. It is designed to keep the wolves away from the doors. It doesn’t move us forward; it just keeps everyone happy and sometimes, if we are lucky, we see a little growth. The problem with this type of reinvention is that it completely falls apart when something unexpected happens. It is usually an ongoing rollercoaster ride, where we are constantly playing catch up. Typically this type of reinvention is in the hands of others.

However, there are times when we do just need to stop and survive!

2. Growth Reinvention

This is when we actively seek better ways to do things, even in the good times. It is about taking control of the change or reinvention that is introduced and not allowing others, or even the marketplace to dictate. The problem with this type of reinvention is that it brings about constant change and therefore the people working within these organisations must all be skilled in adapting to rapid change. The exciting thing though about taking control of our destiny, is that this type of reinvention will often move us forward into areas that we may not have even thought about before.

3. It is a combination

The interesting thing is that it is not either/or; it is a combination of both. To only have survival strategies will eventually kill us and to be constantly changing will wear people out and absorb all of our resources. It truly is the combination of both reinvention strategies that will get us through and take us to the next level of thinking and achievement.

Who are they anyway?

They say that ‘you are only as good as the last thing that you did’. I totally disagree. I believe that you are only as good as the next idea you are prepared to invent and implement.

Just like Kylie Minogue and McDonalds, when you decide to take the risks associated with reinvention, then you put yourself out there for criticism, especially by those who do not have what it takes to reinvent themselves.

However, we need to change our mindset on this. Cowards will attack, but they will never achieve anything themselves.

So, how much do you want this reinvention?

If you really want it, then you will experience conflict and opposition; sometimes from people that you did not expect to receive it from.

But if you really want it and are prepared to ride out the criticism, then you will experience an incredible sense of achievement and learn skills that can be transferred to all areas of your life.

You see, reinvention is simply a way of thinking. It is about wanting to create something better and doing it before you are forced to make change.

I don’t want to implement someone else’s reinvention, I want to control my own destiny and plan my own future.

So, if you are in a situation where you need to reinvent, then remember that survival reinvention and growth reinvention combined will produce sustainable change.

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