Evolving your business to stay relevant in a changing world

Raise your hand if you’re familiar with the “OK, Boomer” meme. Raise your hand halfway if you’ve heard it from your kids or younger coworkers.

For those who haven’t heard it, it’s a humorous yet dismissive, jab at baby boomers from members of younger generations, some of whom believe boomers have fallen out of touch with just about everything modern.

In the minds of some, boomers may be emblematic of people stuck in an old way of thinking. But the truth is, it can happen to all of us. If you run a business — whether you’re 75 or 25 — you can fall into the trap of getting stuck in your ways. It’s that trap that leads to a loss of relevance and, eventually, the decline and possible downfall of the company.

How do you avoid falling into a self-made “OK, Boomer” trap in business? Consider:

Your customers aren’t standing still. People change, companies change, markets change. If you aren’t consistently gauging your customers’ needs and committing resources to meet those needs, you will fall behind.

Tri-C is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and it has given everyone at the college a chance to reflect on our six-decade journey. Tri-C’s early life took place during the turbulence of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. People of color were looking for equity in education. Soldiers returning home needed a way to transition to civilian life. We strived to meet those needs and still do to this day, with programs including TRIO, the Youth Technology Academy and our Veteran and Military Connected Services program.

Technology is always changing. As we moved into the ’80s, ‘90s and new millennium, computers became part of our daily work and personal lives. They went from our desktops to our laps to the palms of our hands. But it’s not just a matter of investing in technology — it’s a matter of investing in the right technology at the right time.

At Tri-C, we have invested in technology on many fronts to stay ahead of that curve. In 1986, our Manufacturing Technology Center opened in downtown Cleveland, giving students in the manufacturing field access to the latest technology. We have frequently upgraded that facility in the ensuing 37 years as new trends like additive manufacturing arrived.

Partnerships provide a pathway. Nobody evolves alone. Seeking out strategic partnerships can lead to mutually beneficial outcomes as each organization leverages its strengths toward a common goal.

Many partner schools and businesses have helped Tri-C meet its goals over the years. We have articulation agreements with dozens of colleges and universities, creating pathways to bachelor’s degrees for our students. Plus, our Workforce, Community and Economic Development division works tirelessly to build and expand workforce training partnerships with many of the region’s biggest employers.

We continue to benefit from — and provide benefits to — many other organizations that drive Northeast Ohio’s economy.

At Tri-C, we have evolved for 60 years to meet the changing needs of our region and workforce. We are committed to post-college success for every student, in every program, in every ZIP code. That is our ongoing mission.

What is your mission? How can you work toward accomplishing it every day? Answering those questions and remembering the tips above can help you avoid becoming just another “OK, Boomer” meme. ●

Michael A. Baston is President of Cuyahoga Community College

Michael A. Baston



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