Build or Rebuild? — that’s the question

If you have ever decided to remodel your home, you know that it is always harder than expected.

It takes more time and costs more than you could have imagined.

It seems so much easier to build a new one than it does to remodel.

When unencumbered by existing walls and infrastructure, you can just design it and, within reason, make a few adjustments during construction and get it exactly the way you want it.

But when remodeling, you are forced into working around obstacles while maintaining the integrity of the support infrastructure.

Sometimes the supports and walls that are already there now seem to be “in the way.”

The plumbing isn’t where you want it so you have to disconnect and move it—perhaps dealing with the foundation and the obstacles that tons of concrete present.

It’s the same for our businesses.

I have run into countless situations over the years where companies have decided it’s time for some changes to their business. Sometimes that means a new product. Sometimes, a new brand. Sometimes, a new market to launch. Or a completely new business model.

In almost every one of those situations, it clearly would have been easier to start “from scratch.”

The existing business structure becomes a hindrance to the process.

The people running the business see things through a specific lens that could be slowing the process. If you have ever heard someone say, “Because we have always done it that way,” you know what I mean.

A few examples come to mind.

I’m currently working with an existing multinational company that is making some dramatic changes to their product strategy for one particular market. Now, after 16 months of work, their first new products are launched into the market. SIXTEEN MONTHS!!!

It seemed impossible that it could take 16 months when we started the process. But, with an existing team, existing processes and existing paradigms, the obstacles between concept and launch were immense. Not the least of which was making sure the existing business is being managed and supported properly.

Another legacy company decided to make some dramatic changes to their “lead product strategy.” On the outside, it didn’t look all that complicated. But, once on the inside, I understood the significance of the change to the existing team.

From initial discussion and decision to the official launch of the new product: 19 months.

Both companies had to change from the inside out. And that took time. Lots of time.

However, I’m also working with a few companies that have gone from concept to launch in under 9 months. These are people who didn’t have a company. Didn’t have a product. Didn’t have people. Didn’t have a comp plan or a computer system. Didn’t have ANYTHING other than an idea. Yet, within 9 months, they were launched and moving forward.

They had a LOT more to do and accomplish and, yet, they did it in half the time.

I am not suggesting that every new initiative in an existing company is going to take a year and half—or even needs to. In fact, I know it can be done faster and more efficiently.

Be realistic from the beginning and understand the obstacles and challenges between concept and launch. Communication is key. Planning is paramount. Leadership is crucial. Complete “buy-in” is imperative.

A really good idea is always worth pursuing.





  1. Greg Neethling on April 4, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    I know a company going through a similar thing but every time they seem to be getting up to speed, shuffling happens and everything gets shakin up and it feels like another rebuild and this happens again and again. Question is can it be helped?

    • Paul Adams on April 5, 2017 at 8:41 am

      Great question Greg. Yes, it can be helped but it is not easy. I typically see 2 main things as contributing factors to a situation that you described. First, a lack of discipline to see things through to completion is often missing. It can be very difficult to go through the changes needed for long-term success. But, if the right decision was made in the first place, the rewards of enduring can be great. Second, and very prevalent in our space, is the influence that the field has on the corporate team. Often, the best long-term decision can have a negative impact on the existing field “leadership”. Unfortunately, the legacy “leadership” is going to do what is needed to protect their income and the corp team listens and responds to them. Neither of these are easy to deal with but both can be overcome.

      • Greg Neethling on April 6, 2017 at 11:43 am

        Well said you are exactly right, in fact, The last paragraph nails it perfectly as it is more valuable to protect what they have, versus building the vision that is right there before them. Thanks for the reply. Have a great day

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