Sunday, September 7, 2014

What Has Change Got To Do With It?

It’s worrying how the word ‘change’ is now being used as a reason why organisations, or rather employees, won’t progress or transform – giving a reason for a host of ‘service’ providers, usually with the word 'consulting' in their name, to offer to support that change for an unreasonable cost - and worse still organisational leaders are falling for it.
We are all used to dealing with major changes in our lives – from learning to walk; our first days at school; our first days at work; getting married and of course having children, and getting old – these events along with many more induce huge change in our lives – change that we are not prepared for before the event (regardless of how much advice you get from others) – and yet in the majority of cases we adapt to the change pretty well.
As humans, change is actually in our DNA – we are used to adapting to changes in our environment – we always have been. In fact we have a natural pioneering spirit – which has made us what we are (or at least the better part of what we are).
But over the last few decades as many employees have become more and more cynical about their environment – both from a business and personal perspective – the ‘hawks’ that are constantly hovering, looking for an opportunity to make money out of a real or perceived weakness - have seized on the opportunity to make organisations believe that change is a ‘problematic event’ that needs outside help.
First of all – if you do get outside help – make sure they understand your business and your culture – before they even start to craft solutions to your problems. Many of the failures of change initiatives aren’t due to the organisation – but due to an outside influence, like a consultancy company, coming in with their ‘prescribed medicine’ that has no chance of working from the get-go, as it fails at the simplest level, in not understanding the culture of the organisation.
Amazingly, rather than apologising for their failures, these consulting firms use these failures to create even more myths about the difficulty of change – taking no accountability themselves for creating failures that never had to happen in the first place.
Secondly, ‘we’ need to stop creating myths about change that in themselves create a self-fulfilling prophecy that means change initiatives are doomed to failure before they even start – because organisations create false barriers and problems that simply aren’t true, but manage to create a perception of a huge insurmountable process without even thinking it through.
Anyone who has run a marathon, probably a half-marathon too, will know that if you start the race believing that you won’t finish – then you are pretty much doomed from the start. Marathons along with other sporting events are as much mental as they are physical, where belief before you start is a key requirement for success.
Organisations are changing on a daily basis – whether it’s products that are developing or their customer base; or it’s their people or systems – change is part of business. When organisations don’t use the word change – everything seems to run smoothly – but as soon as some ‘smartarse’ uses the word change – then a whole new set of behaviours click in – where leaders and their employees suddenly feel a weight bearing down on them and some ghost like resistance and panic sets in to the challenge ahead.
Employees at all levels need to stop believing in these mythical ‘ghosts’ that hinder change and start embracing change, as it’s a natural part of human development. Just look back over your lifetime, whether that’s just 16 years or 80 years; your environment will have changed considerably in that time.
So with that in mind you need to accept that it’s your approach to ‘change’ that defines the outcome – you decide whether change will work or if it won’t and if you decide on the latter then you must assume accountability for the failure.
Organisations and employees have been brainwashed for long enough – change is part of our environment – and it’s certainly part of our survival. So let’s get excited by change – as it links to innovation, customer service and competitive advantage (to name a few) – business principles that make you stand out from the crowd of competitive organisations.
The only people who want you to believe change is difficult are people who want to charge you a lot of money to actually show you that it isn’t J

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