We cannot manage change; we can only embrace it.
We no longer live and do business in a world where we can readily predict the behaviour of employees, customers and society at large over a period of time. So when we look to change we cannot know what it is we are looking to change into!
We hear all the time that change is constant so we constantly try to manage it; we look to redefine ourselves or our businesses in terms of branding, processes, products and pricing structure to meet anticipated needs. We are left wondering why we always seem to be catching up, reacting to the changes we see, being forced to adapt our best laid plans. Just when we get our processes and products right we need to change them.
We take the action with which we are all familiar. We look at new people and processes .We may change some people, alter some job descriptions or merge a few departments. We look to incorporate the lessons we learned from the last such project and so the cycle continues.
We do some work with managers and employees to get them to accept the latest change. What we do not do is work with managers and employees to enable them to embrace change as a constant, as a process of excitement and fulfilment, as an opportunity for continual growth, as means for learning new skills and behaviours.
In is this approach to change that magic happens. In this approach change is no longer a burden, a place where we have to admit that we are fallible and made mistakes, where we reluctantly let go of our work practices, of the products and processes we worked so hard to create, that served us well in the past. Change is now a place of excitement, wonder and appreciation. A place where we can continue to create, to cooperate, to bring the best out of ourselves and others, a place to learn and most importantly a place to be fulfilled.
Historically, our great advances came at the time of greatest peril, when we were fighting great wars or facing destructive sicknesses or natural disasters. We face a similar danger now, one of complacency and comfort, one where the world will overtake us. This threat is not confined to those in IT or telecoms but in manufacturing, retail, fashion and foodstuffs. What does the recent horsemeat scandal mean for your food business, the meat industry or brands in general? As of now, we do not know but are we ready to deal with the fall out as it starts to take shape?
Are we ready to give up the old processes and products, the old story we tell ourselves about our business and our role in it or are we ready to write a new story, create a new role for ourselves and our businesses?
Will we face into the future looking for new experiences and stories or for ways to applying our old stories to give the illusion of control? If we wish to embrace the future we must allow that we have no control over the events; only our reaction to those events.
As individuals and businesses are we equipped to deal with this. Do we know ourselves well enough to know how risk averse we are, how scared we are, where in our comfort zone we are, how willing we are to learn new skills and behaviours? Do we know how to recognise and deal with resistance based on our emotions and patterns of behaviour? Do we know how to read the events objectively rather than through our own tinted perspectives? Do we know where the line is between the story we tell ourselves about ourselves, our business and our marketplace and the real events of those place? Do we know how to trust ourselves and our colleagues?
In order to embrace change we need to face up to all these issues. Does it sound like hard work? Yes IF you want it to be. Does it sound exciting, rewarding and fulfilling? Yes IF you want it to be.
That is the great thing about change; it allows you to be in control of it. Not because you can manage it; because you can manage yourself.