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Ring out the old? Ring in the new?

As we approach 2019, Simon Parkinson, Managing Partner at HPA, explores the value of maintaining the old versus ushering in the new within your business.

In 1850, when Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote in memory of his beloved friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who had died suddenly at the age of 22 some 17 years earlier, he spoke of ringing out the old (bad) and ringing in the new (good).
Of course, in his ode to his friend he was being selective. Angered by the injustice of an early death and perhaps mournful of the lost promise of youth to change and improve the world, he focussed on getting rid of the bad things in life and ushering in a much-improved new world.

However, in the real world, in everyday life and business, things are much less black and white when it comes to the value of the old and the new.


I was reminded of this recently when buying a Christmas jumper for the festive period. Having bought similarly frivolous items of clothing there before, I headed to the Primark website to choose a suitable item, expecting to be able to buy or click and collect.

But no option to purchase or reserve! How can that be? Don’t retail analysts tell us that the high street is doomed, everything’s moving online, and the only thing shoppers want on the high street is an “experience”?

The truth is, I did have a good experience. I visited Primark, picked up my chosen jumper from the shelf went to the till and paid – job done. What’s more this “old school” experience must be pretty good for many people as Primark is one of the few stores on the high street which is continuing to do relatively well, even in the current economic climate. The reason why? Because Primark are giving people what they want – in this case choice and value.

Why don’t Primark sell online? Because their business model is based on high volume and low prices and the costs associated with shipping and returns would severely impact their margins. Of course, at some point in the future they may need to rethink this, but it’s working pretty well for them for now.

So, what are the business lessons here?

  1. The old adage of understanding what your customers want and delivering it consistently is what drives a strong business
  2. The fashionably new isn’t always appropriate for your business – but you need to review this constantly

Of course, Tennyson could simply have written “Ring out the bad. Ring in the good” (which incidentally is HPA’s aim when assisting clients to implement ISO Management Systems), but he was a poet, painting a dramatic picture in words of mortality, time and change – not a Management Consultant!

Whilst we strongly believe in embracing the new, our ethos has always been ‘keep it simple and build on what you’ve got’. After thirty-three years of business and as we move swiftly into 2019, that will remain our mantra for those who wish to achieve those all-important industry benchmarks by marrying the new with existing systems which continue to work well.

For more information on how HPA can help you achieve certification for international management standards, please contact us on 01477 549 116.

About the author

Simon Parkinson

Simon Parkinson is Managing Partner of HPA and has over 20 years experience of helping companies achieve ISO management system certification.

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