Many businesses are comfortable. Ahhhh… it is so nice being in the comfort zone – the metaphorical easy chair in front of a warm fireplace, feet up, and relaxed. The company is doing fine, business is good; management, customers and staff are happy… and complacent.

Complacency breeds a slowdown in the production of adrenaline and then the company starts down a slippery slope, becoming easy prey to competitors as it starts falling behind. It might be that your company’s products and services don’t get worse, but your competitors become better while you are still sitting there warm and cozy. When competitors become better, they offer updated style, or speed of delivery, or a more durable product, or lower prices, or more convenience, or nicer ambiance, or more personal, friendly service, or any combination of these benefits and values. Your customers defect because they can get more of what they want elsewhere.

What to do? In one word – energize! Get out of that comfort zone. Measure yourself against the competition. Create meaningful, yet attainable goals that stretch your organization. Create action steps to enable the organization to attain those goals. Create realistic timelines to implement those action steps. Roll out your new, improved, greater value-added widget. Sure, the theory is easy and execution is difficult. But the alternative is much worse.

While writing the three paragraphs above I was thinking of the former icons of the automobile industry that are in so much trouble today. Their products never really got bad when they comfortably had the lion’s share of the market, but their competitor’s products became better from any number of comparatives and now they are going through massive upheaval in order to survive. Now they are out of their comfort zone in a huge way because of massive layoffs, plant closings, and product changes. Had they, years ago, seriously looked at their changing marketplace, they would have energized and changed the way they looked at the future instead of leaning back and putting another log on that fire.

Please don’t wait to find yourself in survivor mode. Become uncomfortable and succeed.