Mar 3rd 2010
Change is a process that occurs over time. No day is ever the same. Something is always different. Change impacts everything and everybody, from countries, businesses, families and individuals.
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Change is something that can be managed or directed to some extent. It can never be totally controlled, just channeled. In order to channel change it is critical to have some vision of where you are going and why you want to go there. Change is difficult because vision is usually blurred. In many instances vision is void and non-existent.
Business owners and leaders struggle to keep pace with the turbulent pace of change they are attempting to navigate. Competitors introduce new products or more productive methods of serving customers. Then developing new business models and processes becomes a necessity just to stay in the game. The ability of a business to stay ahead of the surging tide of new approaches and strategies is a fundamental lesson in survival.
The consulting projects that I have worked on over the past years have dealt with making changes in business processes to improve profitability. These efforts take time and money. Businesses processes also relate to individuals. If these individuals aren’t committed to making improvements, then improvements don’t occur. Typically things get worse to the point that a crisis develops. Then it is often too late.
The three types of change are anticipatory, reactive, and crisis. The best type of change is anticipatory. Some times the change is reactive, but when all else fails, a crisis will result. Since crisis change is the most expensive and ineffective change process, it is important that businesses start anticipating change.
Business leaders need to adopt approaches focused on anticipating changes. This is difficult because people don’t like change. How do we make change happen? Here are a few tips and ideas.
Change is a challenge. People often fail to see the need to change. Even when they see the need, they won’t take any action. And when they do take action they don’t go far enough or fast enough.
Some steps for meeting the challenge include doing the right thing and doing it well. Doing the right thing now often seems like doing the wrong thing. However, when people do the right thing, they will do it, but do it poorly. Eventually, people will do the right thing and do it well.
People make change happen, organizations don’t. People need to see threats and opportunities. They will see and identify them if they are presented with high contrast and then confronted with the reality of the contrast. The higher the contrast, the easier it is to see the differences.
By creating contrast and clarity it becomes easier to focus on the 20 percent of the issues that will generate 80 percent of the required results. This produces effectiveness by doing the right things and gaining efficiency. It then becomes easier to start doing things differently and some things that others are not attempting. Then the impossible becomes possible by doing things that can’t be done.
Organizational change is individual change. In order to keep people from getting lost it is critical to measure and chart results. Making change work depends on:
1. What to measure
2. Determining the method of measurement
3. Identifying the measurement interval
4. Agreeing on the baseline measurement
5. Targeting the desired result
If people don’t see the need to change, they won’t. They won’t change until they are forced or required to make a change. Accordingly, give them the right tools and then teach them how to use these tools. Establish the destination; provide the tools, and reward achievement of accomplishment along the journey.
The road map to the journey of change is not easy to read. Creating simplified and focused approaches that are understood by the people who need to make the change is a key ingredient to progress. Success depends on confronting reality and keeping the journey as simple as possible in order that people can reach the desired destination. Give people the right information and the right tools and then reward them for higher performance.