What is it about "The Way"? In the last few weeks I have heard a lot of people talking about "The HP Way". There's the "Horn Group Way". And then there's “your way or the highway.” But seriously, what is "The Way"?
It’s a series of processes. A culture. An approach to how customers and employees are treated. I think people today like to reminisce about the "old" way things used to be because things are moving so fast. The old way conjures up memories of when answering a call or an email within a day or so was acceptable. Now, people wonder if something bad has happened to you.
But we also know that the old way may not be the way of the future. Things change and require us to adapt. It's life. The problem is a lot of companies and their executives think they have to come up with a "new" way that ends up having no regard for their original core values. So how does one evolve a business while still preserving the core? A lot of companies that are 20+ years old struggle with this as divisions of their business are going online, people are moved around, some business processes become obsolete and new ones are created. Imagine modernizing the way a 100-year-old company operates, what it sells, how it is sold and whom they hire, while preserving what made them great in the first place.
At the end of the day, things like integrity and respect should never go away. It's the processes around which integrity and respect are manifested that can be modernized. But be careful not to change for the sake of changing. When you deviate from your DNA, you risk losing the magic that makes your company what it is. As Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks said recently at the World Business Forum 2011, "Our competitive differentiator is our culture and the way we treat our people and our customers. We may find new ways to sell different kinds of coffee, but ultimately our core values prevail through everything we do."