Our great big box

For all the dynamism and excitement of the moving industry, most of its businesses are still restricting themselves to tried and tested ways of operating. Jesse van Sas, Secretary General of FIDI, examines why this happens and what we should do about it

Let’s face it: we work in a fantastic industry with phenomenal contacts throughout the whole world. When my oldest son started travelling, I would comfort my wife by reassuring her that I know someone in every city of the world, who would not hesitate to jump in if he needed help. This business is highly international, customer service-driven, personal, contagious, challenging, and all of that in an atmosphere of ‘never a dull moment’. I love it.

But we are also conservative, reluctant to change, and prone to relying on how things have been done for decades. We (and I know I am generalising) are not at the forefront of innovation and change. Why is that?

This is partly because, like every human being, we usually run on automatic pilot, stuck with tunnel vision. It is much more comforting to continue as we did before; it takes less energy – and, after all, our predecessors have shown that it works. Innovative thinking takes much more brain power, and is risky as well. 

We prefer to think inside the box, inside our
own legal, technological framework. It is much safer – this is our comfort zone. Moreover, we seem to think our box is big, with lots of options, sideways, escape routes. But the truth of the matter is that our box is, relatively speaking, small. We are confined by our boxes, and by the norms we have imposed on ourselves for many years. We abide by these industry norms. Doing what everyone does is normal, producing the same normal results. That is correct social behaviour, in a world that never changes… 

However, our world does change, and increasingly so. Our industry is full of new things, but we are usually not at the origin of these things brought in by new tech-innovative companies and players, by disruptors, by changing market conditions. In addition, by behaving as per the norm, we are often condemned to follow the new leaders, to copy their innovations and, if that is not working, by ending up working for them.

There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it is a deliberate business decision, and not a trap we’ve walked into almost blindly, by respecting the traditions and norms.

I’m afraid that when it comes to innovation, development and high performance, this traditional majority is wrong. We need to escape the majority and join the ranks of the 10 per cent who do think and operate outside the box. If not, you may end up with the 90 per cent who work for the 10 per cent.

So, what about FIDI? How are we responding to change? Quite well actually, thanks to our Affiliates who do see the necessity to embrace new standards, new ways of working, and who give FIDI the space to develop these in our programmes. The same goes for the new business models active in our sector. We need to continue to find ways to involve these in our organisation. To make sure that those who control the bookings in the moving business are somehow included in our shared drive for quality – for the good of the FIDI movers and their customers.

I realise that we have tried this before. We have fought them, competed with them and, now, many of us work for them. However, if you try to reach a target and keep hitting a wall, most would either try harder, or stop altogether. The third option though is to change tactics and find ways around the wall, by doing things differently.

We love our great big box. Many things are happening outside that box though. We need to stick our heads out and see what is going on.
We cannot ignore forces of change. We need to speak to them and find out what they want, aspire, and believe.

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