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Watching the weather change

As we all realise to our horror that developing a beach body in time for summer is now completely out of the question, we can at least take comfort in the knowledge that cold weather is now firmly behind us. With the exception of those of the ski holiday inclination, our experience of life is undeniably lessened by the harsh winter months. Perhaps the miserable success rate of the solemn resolutions we make to ourselves at the turn of each year has more to do with January being an inopportune time to enact behavioural change, rather than a personal lack of willpower: cravings for unhealthy snacks are more difficult to combat while enduring sub-zero temperatures, a glass of wine never so tempting than when stuck indoors on a wintry evening. But as we wake to sunshine and birdsong instead of darkness and rain, personal renewal feels more like an urge than an effort. Imagine you had felt as energised as you do on a day of blazing sunshine and outdoor activities when you were lazing on the couch gorging on chocolate in the first months of the new year… you could have had a beach body by now.

One of the pleasures of this time of year is the spectacle of the previously barren natural world flourishing with life and colour once more. In the countryside, fledgling crops of all kinds grow in the fields as farmers hope for a bountiful harvest in the autumn. While some of us may be inspired by springtime in our own efforts to grow, farmers are beholden to the seasons in a material sense. While the ancient endeavour of agriculture was initially driven by subsistence, in modern times it is an industry like any other. While most of us do not make a living from the soil, the acquired wisdom of a veteran farmer can be of use to a company in any sector: sow only the finest seeds, plant varied crops in different fields, use ever more efficient and productive techniques. Above all, avoid over-reliance on the same field lest the nutrients be drained from the soil. Like farmers, we would do well in our personal and professional lives to learn the lessons of past harvests and change our methods accordingly.

The terms “fit for purpose” and  “adapting to changing market weather” may be odious clichés, but, as with most clichés, they allude to a stark reality. A downturn in demand is as damaging to a business as a drought is to a crop; as a swarm of locusts can strip a field bare, a resourceful competitor may devour your customer base as you look on helplessly. Standing still, no matter how unassailable your current position may appear, puts your organisation at risk of creeping obsolescence and eventual irrelevance. Sales driven commercial enterprises need to constantly review and improve their customer offer in order to remain competitive, while public sector organisations need to optimise their services and structures to satisfy their remits. Indeed, we see regular procurements for performance improvement and change management consultancy from across the public sector on the Tenders Direct database. As for changing markets, we need only look at the experience of our farming friends to see how even the most static industries can shift unexpectedly: the possibility of a “leave” vote in the upcoming referendum in the UK on membership of the European Union raises the prospect of the Common Agricultural Policy being replaced at national level; were any new regime to involve significant alterations to regulation and/or reductions in subsidy levels, UK farmers may be compelled to reappraise their business models.

So, as we go on crash diets and use long forgotten gym memberships in a vain effort to appear less repulsive in our summer outfits, it is worth remembering that change is constant in all aspects of life and we should try to prepare for it as best we can. For those in the commercial world, even if your barn is overflowing with a bumper harvest it would be wise to think back to when it was empty. All successful businesses begin with a small plot of land and a handful of seeds; with persistence and acquired knowledge, a smallholding can blossom into a large estate. But beyond the boundary wall a more humble farmer toils away on his small plot with a sense of urgency that you may no longer possess, coveting your prosperity with jealous eyes. As the world changes around us, we must change with it and be prepared for what lies ahead. In our personal and professional lives, we must try to make every day a spring day.

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