One of the companies I am working with is ready to move their company to the next stage of life. They intend to seize the opportunity to move forward with many new initiatives and changes. In essence their company will be a new company.
When they called, they said that they wanted to “re-launch” the company. I do not know what your first thoughts are when you hear that a company is re-launching. Whether it is a product, service, initiative or the company itself, a re-launch usually conveys an underlying message that something went wrong the first time and this is a “do-over”. Often the term gets used and excitement builds internally without thinking about the message that might actually be conveyed.
If you are working from components, ideas and strategies that have not significantly changed or if there was an initial problem, you probably are in a re-launch, but there is little reason to flag the challenges that come with the term.
Anything that is actually new deserves a true launch, free of baggage and perception. The announcements need to be proactive, energy driven and with vitality that demands attention and invites participation. It should create interest and demand, frequently resulting in an uptick in business rather than being just a media event or historical milestone. It is more than a casual word choice.
A launch is like a shiny penny that catches the sunlight and is easy to see, whereas a re-launch is more like an old or dirty penny that might blend in with the background. The shiny penny asks to be noticed, picked up and put to use and the old penny is often overlooked or discounted.
In our initial conversation, the client company immediately understood the value and difference that a launch anew can have for their company. Sure there are a number of aspects of the company that will be brought forward into the new company, but each of these, from locations and people through practices, branding and infrastructure, will be evaluated and aligned to the new company, not simply the old company competing with a new initiative.
Even though “old and revered” has proven staying power, it is often the new and exciting that finds and captures the greatest opportunity, especially in markets that have been suffering. Companies that learn how to use what they have built as tools and foundation components, keeping the newness on the exterior have the greatest opportunity. It takes leadership willing to take risks and not be anchored to the past. Charisma to carry the concepts and energy forward is required as well as an open mindedness that can really think out of the box. Perhaps most importantly, the leaders never stop dreaming.
A book written by James Belasco, “Teaching the Elephant to Dance” is still a favorite when addressing what leaders must do to create change in a company, the kind of change that deserves a new launch and causes momentum with bottom line results.
I am enjoying watching the excitement in the new company. It has the same company name, but with a tagline that defines who they are and conveys the newness. A new mission and vision has been adopted around a concept that is a rallying cry or declaration of winning. Almost every aspect of this company will look like a shiny new penny.
There are definite challenges to starting over, and even more so there are opportunities. While band-aids can be placed on cuts, they are unlikely to help a systemic issue. Sometimes it is important to look at the things you have learned and the expertise your team provides and start anew, wiser than last time. In a business that is constantly evolving at an ever increasing rate we find ourselves playing catch-up most of the time instead of positioning ourselves for the needs of the future. I hate to say a do-over because it is not an accurate term, but rather an opportunity to build from scratch what you could not in the past.
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