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Change Management 22 October 2013

The only constant is change

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative" - Oscar Wilde

Stability as a means to business success doesn’t work anymore. The past several decades have seen one thing become more and more true - change is always happening so if you can’t manage it well, you will not succeed.

 

Let’s ditch the buzz-phrase ‘long-term strategic planning’

When I started working in retail back in 1980, stability was one of the main business goals to achieve profit and growth. We were encouraged to standardise and be consistent. Continuous improvement (Kaizan) and quality (ISO9000) were the only ‘stretch’ goals for organisations.

Those standards may still reign supreme at many organisations, but you’re not likely to find that line of thinking in the most successful organisations in the world. Too many changes are occurring all the time for businesses to have such a linear strategy.

 

Building change into our culture

Change isn’t a new concept, but it is more frequent now. And the problem is that, quite often, change occurs before we realise it. We end up being swept along whilst fighting a futile battle to hold onto what we thought was working fine in the first place, or trying to maintain the status quo. With the number and size of changes expanding constantly, agility and anticipation have become the competencies of the future.

We need to move on from the idea that projects are one-off interactions, where completion is accompanied by a permanent solution to ‘change’. We need to understand the nature of change and incorporate it into our culture. To effectively handle constant change, your business needs an effective change management process so you can meet the changes head on and be proactive in your approach.

Managing change can be equated to flying a plane. Just like change, the weather varies. This can make flying difficult, but pilots won’t simply decide not to fly because they can’t predict the weather. Instead, they trust and use their instruments as constants to get them to their destinations. Like pilots, companies must have their instruments correctly calibrated and rely on them to get them safely to their goal. That is, companies must be prepared for any changes in ‘weather’ by having the right tools and equipment from the very start.

While the work you do to get the right tools and processes in place to make change happen might not be recognised by most, it will make the change and results of those change easier and, very often, much more successful.

 

What will be your legacy?

The first time I ask a person what they want their legacy to be, nobody says that they want to be known for managing change effectively, or helping people to get through change better. But since it’s now so critical to business success (and I would argue, personal success), why not?

When I work with a business to build a change management strategy, I use Deeper Discovery to identify when and where change is needed, to adapt to the change, and to leave a legacy, both as individuals and as an organisation.

As part of that, I ask that individuals think about the legacy they want to leave behind. Now, I challenge you to do the same. It doesn’t have to be the legacy you leave when you die, but the impact you leave after you retire, change roles or even after a simple interaction with another person.

Once you know the legacy you want to leave behind, you can set the goals necessary to achieve it. For those that want their legacy to be that they managed change effectively or helped people to get through change better, the goals are:

  1. To build capability around change. Get it into the DNA of the business, change the way people see change, and look for the opportunities in change
  2. Manage change in a way that gets positive business results. It may sound simple and obvious, but many people get so wrapped up in how to manage the change that they forget that there should be tangible benefits to the organisation

 

By building change into the culture of the company and building capability around it, you will leave something behind that can live on.

 

Getting your teams excited about the prospect of change

It is important that through accepting the need for change, we do not undermine the difficulty of managing it. One of the most common reasons for unsuccessful change management, and the focus of this week’s article, is lack of employee buy-in. Without employees agreeing to, and getting excited about change, teams can become unmotivated, unproductive, and disconnected, leaving the change process without any driving force.

Attaining employee buy-in can be difficult, because whilst leaders have an appetite for change, their teams often fear it, or are fatigued by constant change.  Learn about how to get your teams bought into change by talking to Insights today.

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