The Challenge of Change

My last blog post was on Creating Business Vision. It got me thinking that you can’t make the vision a reality until you deal with change. Change can be good and it can be bad. If bad stuff is happening than you have to figure out what needs to be done to counteract it. These challenges relate to both business and personal situations.

As accountants and business people we get consumed with analysis. The reality of analysis and data is that it doesn’t move us to do what we need to do. We see the statistics and think about them, but until some emotion is injected into the mix, nothing happens. The same old things happen in the same old ways. Once the reality of having to do something different hits us, then we might be ready to take some action.
 
Once we see and feel the need for change, what change is required? This is when you have a chance to develop a vision to deal with what change is needed. Reflect on your vision? What shouldn’t be changed? What’s the best way to make the vision become reality? What changes could be dangerous?
 
Get the vision right. Little incremental steps probably aren’t going to move things in any meaningful way. You need to take leaps into the future. Jim Collins in Good to Great calls these leaps “Big Hairy Audacious Goals.” Think about your passions, "what can you become the best in the world at, and what drives your economic engine?"
 
Reflect on these possibilities and use them to develop a change vision. It is all about converting fear into positive urgency. Your first step is to stop the bleeding so you can move forward with clarity. Urgency drives and sustains change. In the current economic environment, there is plenty of urgency.
 
Change shouldn’t be just defensive action; it should include searching for opportunity. These are great chances to attacking the problem and converting adversity into possibilities. Start out looking for the cheap and easy opportunities as you progress toward more difficult challenges.
 
After you get comfortable with the easy opportunities, start searching for bold strategies. Usually obvious changes are staring you right in the face. Looking directly at bold changes can be pretty threatening. This is usually the case when you’re dealing with the obvious. You know it needs to be dealt with but it’s tough to get started.
 
The obvious gives you the chance to literally see the future. Take the future and put it into a moving statement. Make the vision short and bold enough to allow it to become reality. Pay close attention to “how fast” you can make things happen and adjust to the “speed of change.”It’s up to you and the people in your organization to make it happen. This is a function of getting people to buy-in and that includes you. Show people, and yourself, the things that address anxieties. Remove the clutter to help get the right message delivered. Make sure to walk the walk and avoid just talking about change. It is a matter of doing it.
 
Change involves matching vision and words with deeds. You have to make things happen. Usually you will see the mismatch and what needs to be changed. You see the answer but you don’t like it. This is when you have to make a leap of faith and move forward.
 
Making change work requires removing the barriers to change. Success starts by confronting the issues and dealing with current reality. Develop the confidence and conviction that will allow you to make the change and make a difference. Act with conviction. Get solid information and feedback so you can address the obstacles that block action and stand in the way of progress and achieving the vision.
 
Once you start the change process, focus is essential. Achieve visible victories and make sure everyone sees the wins and their impact. When starting out, try for short-term wins and pick the low hanging fruit. Have a plan for how to implement the strategy, step by step. The budget is the financial piece of the plan. The strategy shows you how to achieve a vision. Vision shows the end state where plans and strategy will take you.
 
Change is tough, but it gets easier once you get started. The key to effective change is never letting up. Keep tackling more difficult changes with courage and perseverance. It takes time and resources. Patience, focus, and discipline are the essential ingredients to make change become reality. Once you determine your road map for change, keep the car between the lines and don’t stop until you reach your destination. After you get there, develop another vision and set out for a new destination.

This blog

Lynn Northrup, CPA, CPIM - Lynn's focus is on building business value for both family-owned businesses and other CPAs. I also specialize in lean accounting, process improvement, internal control, and assessment of audit risk. Other accomplishments include publishing two books, development of self study programs for Bisk Education, and an Adjunct Professorship at Villanova University. My wife Jessica and I live in southwestern Colorado and we look forward to contributing to the AccountingWEB community.

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