The WelderDestiny Compass

Staying Relevant - Issue #032

Wednesday, August 09, 2017 / Perth Australia / By Niekie Jooste

In this edition of "The WelderDestiny Compass":

  • Losing Relevance is Fatal
  • External VS Internal Change
  • Relevance is a Choice
  • Be Timeless

Losing Relevance is Fatal

Amazon is going to start operating locally in Australia within the next year or so. Based on the devastation experienced by Amazon's brick and mortar competitors in the USA and other locations, the Australian retail industry have started a lot of soul searching.

Some retailers are trying to block Amazon's encroachment into their markets by using scare tactics such as quoting job loss statistics due to Amazon's business model. This approach is unlikely to keep their customers loyal for any length of time.

Some retailers are trying to improve their service and cost competitiveness ahead of the inevitable onslaught. I think this is a smarter move.

Indeed, all the Australian retailers are staring the Amazon threat squarely in the face. They fear that their business models will become irrelevant, because that means certain death for their businesses.

Unfortunately it is not only the retail industry that needs to question how to stay relevant. The world is changing so fast, that the relevance bogeyman is going to come knocking on all of our doors at some stage in the near future. Now is as good a time as any to consider how to stay relevant as individuals and organisations in the welding industry.

If you would like to add your ideas to this week’s discussion, then please send me an e-mail with your ideas, (Send your e-mails to: or complete the comment form on the page below.

Now let's get stuck into this week’s topics...

External VS Internal Change

The road to losing relevance is quite simple. If the speed of change from outside is faster than the internal speed of change, then you as an individual, or your organisation, will lose relevance. The answer is therefore simple. Make sure that the internal change is as fast as, or faster than, the change being imposed on you from outside. Although the answer is simple, the implementation of the solution is more challenging.

As an individual this means constant life-long learning to stay abreast of technological advances in your industry, and learning new skills that will supplement your current skills.

For businesses, this means constantly updating systems, technologies and business models. For both individuals and organisations this means change. For both individuals and organisations change is uncomfortable, but there are ways of approaching and managing change that can make for an exciting and dynamic environment.

Relevance is a Choice

As with most things in life, once we choose to focus on staying relevant, and actioning it in our lives, it is not that difficult. In making the choice of staying relevant, and embracing the subsequent change, there are three broad areas that we need to manage:

  • Culture
  • Personal leadership
  • Stakeholder emotions

While we will look at these from an organisational perspective, they are just as important within our own lives and those of our immediate circle of family and friends.

In terms of culture, we need to foster an environment and culture that encourages experimentation and trying out new ideas. Make it OK to fail if it becomes clear that the new approach or "project" is not working. Learn when to fail fast, and when to "hang in there" to realise your goals. Buy into the idea that if you keep doing the same things as you have always done, then eventually you will become irrelevant.

We previously took a brief look at leadership in issue 26 of The WelderDestiny Compass. Over and above what was said in that e-zine, I want to add that we need to personally embrace continual learning and making people's jobs "autonomous". When people have the power to make their own decisions, then they tend to do the right thing. If they do not have the power to make decisions, then people tend to "hide behind the rules".

Managing stakeholder emotions is probably the least understood and most poorly applied area of change management. The stakeholders we are talking about are all the customers, employees and even family members that have vested emotional energy into you or the organisation in the past. We need to understand that when there is change, there is also a sense of loss, leading to grief.

One of the most important aspects of successfully changing, is to acknowledge the grief. Often we believe people are just opposed to any change, but actually they are grieving for what has or will be lost. We can even see this in ourselves when we go through change. We need to allow people, including ourselves, to grieve for the loss. One of the best ways of doing this is to honour the past, and those that made the past happen. Acknowledge that we are all products of our past, but not prisoners of our past.

Be Timeless

The final secret to staying relevant is to be timeless. When we think of being timeless, we think of something or someone that does not change, therefore it appears that this piece of advice is contradictory to everything we have said thus far. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We need to decide what aspects of our life or business will probably never change, and focus on that as an anchor. Think human nature, customer happiness or personal character traits. Focus on those, and not on "style" or technology, that comes and goes. The style and technology can certainly be used and leveraged, but understand that they will need to change over time. Do not anchor yourself to style and technology.

In the coming decades, changing technology, business models and skills will impact the welding industry, as they will all other fields. When the impact hits home, will you be staying relevant?

Yours in welding

Niekie Jooste

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