Everyone knows that change is inevitable because nothing stays the same forever. This is certainly true for companies who take steps to grow versus remain in the same place. There are four particular approaches to organizational growth and depending on which you prefer will determine your end results.

Regardless of the size of your business, you won’t be able to ignore or wish away change because the market will continue to pressure you for your solution. If you have a good one you will tend to succeed but if you try and hold your breath until something else pops up you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

If you are the CEO of a business or manage a business, you know being prepared for change is far better than trying to deal with it when it occurs. During many consulting assignments, I have often found the second stage of growth the most difficult for small business leaders to conquer. As you can see in the chart above, there are four approaches to change that you will need to grow through to become really adept at handling market shifts and customer requests. Let’s take a brief look at each and along the way ask yourself which approach does your organization use most often?

Approach 1: Reacting to Problems

This first approach is common among first-stage companies where the urgent trumps everything. Managers and employees alike are constantly putting out the fire of the day and usually do not have the time to make plans for longer-term strategies. This continuous fire crew mentality will have an impact on you and your business, or your organization. However, this will not stop changes from occurring or make time for more meaningful planning. To move from this first approach to the next requires that the most difficult change management step be taken: everyone needs to confront the way change is going to be handled and accept that a change in attitude may also be required to get the job done.

Approach 2-4: Planning to Aligning to Integrating

The next three approaches need to occur successively. There are no shortcuts you can take to avoid one of these stages so buckle up and work through them! Planning is the foundation of the second approach. This is characterized by a conscious effort to evaluate your process and begin to introduce best practices that will link the organization’s goals to strategy to its tactics to full implementation. This naturally leads the organization to align its top-line goals to its bottom-line efforts throughout the organization. When this takes place it allows the organization to self-direct itself without a ton of rules and policies. With these best practices in place, an organization can integrate all of its leadership, operations and programs into one cohesive approach that produces excellence through the organization.

 An effective CEO will understand the importance of guiding the organization through these four approaches by leading the change, versus being led by external events. Once this occurs all stakeholders will begin working together as one team and less will catch the organization off guard.