Deciding to rethink what you eat to lose weight is a fairly straight-forward process. It might be challenging if you really like certain ‘food groups’ — and you know which ones I’m talking about — but determining which ones to continue or stop eating is fairly easy. However, when it comes to your business strategy that’s quite a different type of challenge. And many leaders find it incredibly difficult, particularly if their marketplace is changing in brand new ways never seen before.
We have all heard that change is hard, so many times in fact that we start believing it for the wrong reasons. The reality is most people enjoy making a change when they have confidence in it. What’s disturbing and frankly, nerve-racking, is if doubt sets in: will the strategy work?
People in the marketplace who like change are often excited about new procedures, projects and people. In fact, they may be the primary drivers of change in the workplace. According to Myers-Briggs though, of the 16 primary personality types, only ESTP individuals truly enjoy it. Ne-dominant types are the first to tell you they thrive on change, but in reality, this only applies to changes they’ve initiated.
Alas, most people have a built-in resistance to change for a variety of reasons. And this explains why change requires rethinking what is known and established, for example, standard operating procedures of your organization. Because our brains are trained from a very early age to learn behavioral patterns, we follow them to the point they become unconscious processes that provide positive reinforcement that we’re on track and making good progress.
But what happens if that isn’t the case anymore? What happens if the market shifts to the right and we’re still going to the left? This is when change starts to cost you if you don’t begin rethinking your core organizational strategy.
Once you’ve decided to change, the next logical and reasonable question is, how can I get started? The following are coaching recommendations we often make to clients who want to change something.
- All emphasis equals no emphasis.
There’s a very interesting study our firm has researched that found if you take two groups with identical roles and abilities and give each of them the same 10 projects, the group that tackles one project at a time will outperform the group that uses the divide and conquer theory. This sounds like a lot of hot air to some, I realize, but it’s absolutely true. When we looked closer at why this was we found that most decisions that the group had to make could not be made by one person. Rather, it required at least half of the group. The result was the divide and conquer group constantly pulled against itself with each person trying to resolve their particular project whereas the group that worked together knocked out all 10 projects far more quickly.
- Don’t think that incremental change will bring innovation.
There is a strong human tendency to want to complete all of the small projects first and all at once. What’s even worse is if you include the tougher problems in this mix. This leads to believing a lot of small changes will create something big, which is not going to happen. Change requires the deliberate focus on challenging the organization’s status quo and conventional wisdom. Innovation begins with being in a hurry to find the next big thing. A great example of this is the story about Xerox’s mouse that Steve Jobs saw and brought back to Apple for development— as fast as he could. Apple didn’t invent the mouse, they innovated it and put their computers on the map. This didn’t happen through incremental change, it occurred because Jobs envisioned that the mouse would highlight Apple’s innovation story.
- Change requires time and careful management
New ideas and strategies require time and care to be effectively introduced and learned throughout an organization. This is not only for the C-Suite. It’s for everyone in an organization because to be successful everyone in the organization needs to understand what the new something is, and have the ability to easily and effectively explain it. This takes time and is critically important when launching anything new. And it doesn’t only apply to new products or services, it applies to any major change in the organization’s operations, management, or culture.
As an organizational change consultant, I have found that when leaders link these three recommendations and inculcate them throughout their organization this brings about very positive changes in organizational growth, alignment, integration and ultimately produce relevance to its stakeholders and customers. Being able to envision what the business will be like after implementing the innovation increases our motivation to rethink and make the change. For help with your organizational change challenges, feel free to contact us today.