Adjusting focus

Adapting to change is just a basic element of doing business for John Kratz.

In the field of information technology, Kratz, president of Information Control Corp., constantly has the changing effects of technology, globalization, competitors and the economy on his radar screen. And when factors indicate, he has learned to be flexible, including with the company’s vision.

“We don’t live in a static world,” Kratz says. “You have to establish a vision, you have to stay focused, but you have to be willing to adapt to changes as they become apparent to you. You have to be, I believe, open to the idea that things can change and will change.”

Don’t make radical changes, Kratz says. You need to make calculated decisions if you’re thinking about changing your vision. That means talking to outside sources and gauging the market as well as evaluating your goals as a company.

The process has helped ICC grow to 2008 revenue of $44 million and 400 employees.

Smart Business spoke with Kratz about how to establish and adapt a vision.

Establish a vision. What comes into play is … the personal and corporate goals that you have, and then trying to develop a picture and how you’re going to realize those goals.

You have to think far enough ahead that you really truly have a vision rather than just quotas for the upcoming year or whatever the period of time in question. I think almost all companies have goals for their monthly objectives or their annual objectives, but for me, a vision is something beyond that — it’s where you want to evolve to be based on what you know about yourself and what you think is achievable.

I think a vision (is) typically maybe three to five years. But again, it’s subject to modification based on all the factors that come into play.

Keep an eye on factors that may lead you to adapt your vision. First of all, the vision can change from time to time. We’re not in a static world so various factors come into play that cause the vision to be modified, it might be competitive factors, it might be technology, it might be economic factors, any number of things that might be outside of your control that requires you to be able to adapt.

If you’re functioning in an environment where you’re not adapting to all these changes that are taking place around you, then you can be in for a rude awakening.

Our vision has been modified over the course of time based on experience. In other words, a lot of times you have a vision of where you’re going, and then once you begin to experience certain things, you sort of modify that. Sometimes you become more aggressive. Sometimes you become less aggressive. Sometimes you just change your course of action. There’s a variety of reasons why it can change.