Who’s Ready for More Change in 2023?

Who’s Ready for More Change in 2023?

It’s that time of year when we all take time to reflect on the changes of the year just past and the changes ahead. I don’t know about you, but I’m a little worn out from even the idea of change.

It’s a funny thing. Change is synonymous with innovation, and that’s our bread and butter here at Vetrotech. Our roots are steeped in change; Vetrotech’s launch in the 1980s introduced the world’s first fully tempered clear fire-resistant safety glass and altered forever how to design safe buildings. It’s not like we’ve rested on our laurels since then—change is part of what we do.

Yet after three years of remote work, evolving business models, new generations entering the workplace and new expectations for how work is done, Change feels a bit more burdensome than it has in the past. I’ll be the first to admit that some of this is due to being closer to the end of my career than the beginning, but I can’t help but think that some of it comes down to a history of how we have innovated in the past.

Much like glass installation, glass manufacturing is a hands-on business. Working in close quarters is the norm in manufacturing. While we’ve seen positions in sales, marketing and business development become remote, it’s hard to shake the mentality that we’re in an industry that demands in-person interaction.

I’ve seen more than a few signs that this feeling may not result from being set in my ways. I’ve heard rumblings of jobs nearly lost before they could be earned because an architect couldn’t find a specific product on a website. Rather than calling up their sales rep, they prepared to move on to a site with the product listed.

Our website is robust, but I’ll admit it doesn’t have every possible glass configuration listed. There’s a pretty good reason for that. Are you ready for this? We haven’t come up with “every possibility” yet.

Here’s the thing: many of these possibilities are born out of talking with architects after that lunch-an-learn, chatting with a project manager on the jobsite, or a comment made over drinks at the end of a long day of walking a trade show. And sometimes it does take getting on the phone and asking, “Hey, is it possible to create a better/larger/slimmer fire-rated product than what’s already on the market?” Suddenly an idea takes fire and the next thing you know, a product on the market stands poised to change everything. Innovation tends to sprout not from what we can do but from a need mentioned during a moment of connection.

This connection is also part of ensuring that any glass supplier is  delivering what clients need and want, not just what they’re asking for. None of us can recommend a better product fit if you don’t have a conversation with them about your goals.

And this connection is critical for training the next generation of workers who stand poised to take over from us graybeards. I don’t care whether you’re a Boomer, Xer, Millennial, Gen Z, Gen Alpha (are we training them yet?), or what — there’s a lot to be gained through in-person learning. These kids today get it. Gen Z is known for being eager to learn. They prioritize upskilling and will jump ship if they don’t feel they’re being invested in.

Now, we’ve all proven that we can build these connections remotely. We’ve all discovered that innovation was alive and well during the COVID pandemic and in the years since. But now it may be time to start prioritizing collaboration and connection over innovation and change.

We all sense the looming possibility that this year’s staggering inflation may end with a recession. As someone who has lived and worked through more than my fair share of economic cycles, I’m not all that worried about what’s ahead. But I will tell you that I see two things coming out of this possible economic belt-tightening up ahead:

  1. People will see more value from personal touchpoints. Now is the time for individuals to ensure they are front of mind for their managers, clients, and partners. Reach out, connect, collaborate and strengthen those partnerships because we will need each other to come out strong on the other side of a potential downturn. If the remote connection works for you, then, by all means, keep at it. For everyone else, now may be a good time to pick up the phone for a quick chat with key contacts or shake things up by popping into an office or on the jobsite in person.
  2. There’s an opportunity on the other side of every recession. Challenges inspire creativity for companies that wish to stay afloat. You have to weather the hard times while laying the groundwork for growth.

It’s a safe bet that 2023 will bring more change. Anyone who doesn’t enter 2023 with the expectation that business is changing — that we have to be more agile, customer-centric and on top of our game to succeed — will be in trouble. And as exhausting as the idea of more change may be, the good news is that we’ve strengthened these muscles over the last few years of intensive evolution. We’ve already adapted to a new normal a few times over now. So, we must keep our eyes steady on the values that never waver and keep moving forward.

For me, those values include spending time this December with my family, celebrating this year’s wins with my team and sending a big thank you to you readers and clients who keep me moving forward.

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