MNC Consulting Group Newsletter
September 2016
Conquering the Challenge of Change

Author and professional speaker, Catherine DeVrye, claims that the seven most expensive words in business are, "We have always done it that way." Her claim is not wrong. Doing the same things over and over - while expecting a different result each time - can mean death to business.
 
Being stuck in a pattern of operation that does not provide a good return on investment not only impacts profits; it can impact an organization's reputation, as well. A thriving organization re-invents itself frequently. It not only looks forward several years down the road (five or more), but it continuously adjusts its products, processes, and services to meet the approaching challenges and opportunities.
 
A thriving organization learns to "fail forward." This includes developing a perspective around change, challenges, and opportunities that are relentlessly solution-focused. Change is perhaps the biggest factor in an organization's success.
 
Approaching change does not require a 'big bang' solution in every aspect of business. This type of approach may sometimes work, but it can create problems if the organization's absorptive capacity is weak. Instead, consider the dimensions to change when conquering the challenges that inevitably result from change.
 
To diminish the challenges associated with change in your organization, consider the following:
 
  1. Lay the foundation. In order for change to occur, managers have to set up the right conditions. This includes planning, planning, and planning! This also means having the "right people" in your corner acting as ambassadors for change. Check out Kotter's 8-step change model for more information.
  2.  Incremental or big bang. Depending on your organization's ability to absorb change, you may need to introduce incremental change or you might be able to do a quantum leap. Incremental change involves making small changes and 'fine-tuning' processes or behaviours within just one system or level of the organization and is sometimes much easier for employees to manage (think "Kaizen"). However, if your employees are gung-ho about making change, then a significant makeover of how the company operates may work well. In either case, planning is a key consideration.
  3. Staff involvement. If you have in-house change implementation experts, use them to help plan and implement change. Otherwise, look for an external source of expertise.
  4. Hierarchical change. Depending on the type of change, employee involvement will be different. For instance, if change is targeting top management to become better leaders, lower level staff may not need to be involved (as much or at all). However, if change involves customer service, then both lower level staff and management need to be involved. Know your target audience and work with them to implement change.
  5. Organizational structure. What is your organization's structure? Does your organization have policies, procedures, and guidelines? What about job descriptions? If your organization does not have this (and related) documentation, then you need to get writing. If your organization has this documentation to the 'nth' degree, then you may need to loosen up and review what you have - bureaucracy is no one's friend.
 
The bottom line to conquering the challenge of change is to know your organization, secure your ambassadors, and plan (plan!) before implementing change. Remember that learning from change is optional, but in thriving organizations, change is inevitable.
Seeing the Opportunities in Obstacles
 
When the going gets tough, the tough get going - or so the saying goes! Being tough helps organizations turn obstacles into opportunities, but how does an organization develop its "toughness?"
 
According to Forbes, there are at least six markers of mental toughness that apply equally well in sports and business situations. These markers include:
 
  1. Flexibility. When something does not go according to plan, tough leaders look for ways to solve the problem - they don't just walk away or throw a tantrum. Part of being flexible also includes thinking of new ways of doing business. Doing the "same old" will give you the "same old" results.
  2. Responsiveness. Great leaders respond to changes in the environment in a way that makes sense for the business. Understanding trends as well as a competitor's strengths and weaknesses helps organizations stay ahead of the competition.
  3. Strength. Sometimes tough situations require an equally tough leader to help the organization get through adversity. Like a soccer team on the brink of losing the game, the team digs deeper to find the "resolve to keep going." Strong leaders help motivate that "resolve!"
  4. Courage and ethics. Strong leaders avoid the temptation to "cut corners" in business. They always do the right things. For instance, if you received proprietary information about your competitor's product, what would you do? It takes courage and ethics to do the right thing.
  5. Resiliency. If your organization can do more with less, your organization knows all about resiliency. Even in times of hardship, strong leaders help organizations remain optimistic and quickly change when necessary. They also admit when they have made a mistake.
  6. Sportsmanship. In business as in sports, "game-ready" leaders do not show their disappointment. How leaders react to disappointment sets the tone for the rest of the organization. A cool head usually wins the game!
 
How tough is your organization? How tough are you? Today's business environment requires toughness that goes beyond technical skill. Of course, technical skill is important, but one's ability to judge a situation and act in a manner that others would be proud to model is what will ultimately win the game for you and your organization - and help you keep ahead of the competition.
In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)
Each time I'm faced with a disappointment (and there have been a few, lately - nothing huge, but each situation has given me pause), I sometimes think that maybe I'm not good enough for this or that project; maybe I'm not qualified; maybe my resume is lacking; and blah blah blah. I imagine we've all had these types of thoughts on at least one occasion, right? But I quickly realized that my negative thoughts really are the problem - they are stifling my progress. We can't always control events, but as I've learned, we can always control our attitude. Change is the elixir of life (and good business, too!), but when changing, it's important to focus on those things that we can do, rather than wasting energy on what we can't do or what we really don't want to do. Bottom line: Focus on the positive (but don't forget those life lessons brought on by the negative!) and see how quickly professional and personal success follows. IMHO.
 
"A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug."
- Patricia Neal

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