Change is the only thing permanent!
Human progress is nothing but a series of changes in the manners, customs and beliefs of society. Civilization has always accommodated change in order to progress in every epoch. In the last two centuries, changes of revolutionary proportions have brought us to a stage where the next round of changes will usher in quantum leaps in our lifestyle. How do you embrace and lead your teams through the changes that would be necessary to bring progress? Let’s go through an understanding on carrying out the change management initiatives.
Charles Darwin, the first person to provide a scientific basis for the theory of evolution, recognized that living entities changed to adapt in the natural habitat. An evolutionary change is mandated in the corporate world too, where businesses and organizations will need to bridge the generational management gap and adapt themselves to the new normal.
In a profession where there is no fixity to factors influencing its results, offering effective leadership can be (and is) tricky. In a world where globalization has connected businesses like never before, it is incumbent upon leaders to take important decisions that would have material ramifications not only for the enterprise but also for the wider society.
Here we go through the five steps approach that would enable you to affect your change management:
Develop contextual awareness:
A heightened state of awareness considering the business environment allows one to assess how these trends could affect you and then allows you to navigate change by giving an early warning of obstacles and opportunities ahead.
The management guru Peter Drucker says “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic”
One needs to go through the 3 simple questions:
a) What is going to happen? i.e. the future that can be expected
b) What might happen instead? i.e. envision an alternative future
c) What do you want to happen? i.e. your vision of the preferred future
Assess the change management strategy to fit the purpose:
After assessing the affects these changes would have on the working of the enterprise, the future focussed leader can strategize the path along with key stakeholders to deploy the changes within the organizational framework. The path elements could include technological advancements in the organization’s work flow, building alliances with other firms and understand their procedural ethics, essay to open up marketing opportunities in new customer segments or redevelop an existing product offering to suit a new trend within the market.
Communicate the strategy with tasks and accountabilities:
Adapting to changes is one thing, and making those whom you lead to adapt these changes is another thing altogether. This is where a leader should focus the most, getting the teams to understand the nature and consequent impact of the changes and bringing all on board with the purpose behind the change management exercise.
Amelia Earhart – the aviation pioneer mentioned "The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity". Execution is the key element of the strategy and this is best defined through a clear set of tasks assigned down to the last mile and the accountabilities assigned to each team member for a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) review system.
Balance Tradition with Innovation:
While abrupt changes in market conditions are commonplace, and that too when it has scope for more abrupt changes or disruptions, a leader may have to delicately balance the changes that are necessary with the values and traditions that the firm holds dear.
Frances Hesselbein – one of the most inspirational leaders of America said “Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed – the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day”. An inspiring leader should be able to control the pace of change that the enterprise is likely to experience. While outsourcing may be implemented, care must be taken to cater to the professional abilities of a firm’s employees.
Fulfill social obligations:
A business entity does not exist in vacuum, it is a part of the whole and within the structure of the society which it serves economically. The leader could do well to take decisions keeping in mind the interests of their enterprise balanced with the interests of the society whose demand it supplies. A progressively driven organisation will exhibit optimum care in its fulfillment of social obligations such as;
a) minimizing harm to the environment,
b) include dignifying and fair conditions of labour,
c) offering employment and career building to fulfil the host country’s nationalisation goals and
d) respecting the cultural sentiments and traditional values of the people who benefit from the work of the enterprise.
Changes keep coming – human progress is like an unstoppable river. One must go with its flow or else perish under its currents. Change sensitized leaders recognize this inevitable truth and they rise to the occasion to provide leadership in a manner that not only adapts to the rapid changes, but allows them to become a veritable part of the organization that they successfully lead.