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Change is Hard

In the past few months, Thrive has experienced a lot of change. Most of it has been really good, and all of it has been hard. We’ve seen personnel change (really, really hard, but good), we’ve increased our portfolio of properties (not particularly hard, but really, really good), we’ve invested in infrastructure (hard to spend, unless its a great investment), and we’ve changed our business plans to reflect what we believe about a changing marketplace (good and necessary change). I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about change. In retrospect, I realize I’ve spent too much time thinking about how to react to change, and not enough being active about change.

At Thrive, our business approach utilizes change to create value. In a nutshell, we see opportunities in real estate, and obsess about the details that need to change in order to realize potential. Sometimes its simple details like changing phone service contracts, or tweaking our approach to residents to better connect in meaningful ways, and sometimes it’s as complex as a complete re-branding effort. Usually, it is a myriad of unique details. But the approach to identifying the opportunities is a hard-to-describe mix of art and science. One simple truth though… it always starts with a clear vision for the property, with the resident in mind. And it always requires change.

I recently read an interesting article about change in Fast Company… Find a Bright Spot and Clone It. It’s an exerpt from Chip and Dan Heath’s upcoming book titled “Switch.” The authors articulated some really good ideas about finding success in changing environments. One that struck me was concluded in the form of the question “what is the ratio of time you spend solving problems versus scaling successes?” Now, you’ll want to read the entire article to appreciate the context of this question, but it struck me that our most impactful initiatives are often the result of observing something that is working, and finding ways to perpetuate that sort of success.

In the apartment world, we’re inundated with statistics about decreasing values, a glut of new supply, increasing vacancies, and residents who care only about price. Yes, times have changed, but its not that simple, and I don’t believe residents care only about price. We manage a building that seems to attract tech tech saavy residents. When we emphasize the really fast, cost effective high speed internet service, they certainly show that they care about that. When our maintenance staff shows they’re making a concerted effort to learn the names of residents, we get great feedback about service. This article encourages me to keep changing as we have, and to focus on the bright spots. Simple, but not easy.

We’re re-doubling our effort to reap success out of change. Change IS hard, but it is essential to progress!