Editor’s Note: Change without compromise is a fine line to walk

Change happens. It’s inevitable that markets will shift, customers will come and go, and services will become more or less important. But sometimes the change isn’t imposed on a business as much as internal circumstances force the business to change. When everything is in flux, how does a company change without compromising?

Take, for instance, Jonathan Bender, the subject of this month’s feature. He was the fifth overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft and expected to be a superstar. His knees, however, couldn’t take the strain of high-level professional sports.

When it became clear that his body couldn’t keep up, Bender had to come up with another plan. His next venture was JBIT MedPro, an exercise and therapy device designed to strengthen knees, backs and hips. He’s now recreating himself as an inventor and entrepreneur, and leaving basketball behind.

“Entrepreneurship is all about faith,” Bender says. “Sometimes you can’t see the next step, but if you step out there it will show itself. So just keep moving forward, and don’t make any excuses for yourself.”

Shifting phases

Other times, companies need to adapt to a new phase of their growth, which takes a shift in strategy and personnel.

This month’s cover story features Sprint Waste Services, which has experienced rapid business growth during the past four years. What started with a construction landfill has expanded into multiple services that have grown enough to support themselves as wholly owned subsidiaries of the company.

Will Swinbank, company president, talked about his company’s aggressive philosophy, and how he empowers people to make decisions as if they owned the company. That philosophy requires a certain mentality from those who work at Sprint Waste. As the company anticipates the rapid pace of its growth tapering off, however, it has needed to make adjustments internally.

“We’ve been able to add some quality high-level people that have kind of filled in those gaps, just trying to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s,” Swinbank says. “When we have ideas, don’t do them 80 percent, let’s get to the finish line.”

Core principles

Columnist Ravi Kathuria, founder and principal of Cohegic Corp., suggests that executives need to establish their core business principles, which form the basis of decision-making.

“The executives who lacked a method did not succeed,” he writes. “They were ineffective in their approach and easily swept away by internal or external challenges. Companies led by leaders who had a method and were able to articulate it have performed exceedingly well, some delivering over a 1,000-fold growth.”

Change is inevitable. Sometimes it’s your choice to change, other times it’s not. Values, however, keep you aligned with what’s really important as the landscape shifts under your feet. Without them, you’re like a ship caught at sea, drifting until your resources are exhausted, never hitting land.