As a CEO of my own firm, and a change leader working with CMOs of world-class brands, the constant in my life is helping organizations to adapt to new situations and challenges. As Bryan Ward used to say, this is a high-class problem. Because it fundamentally means you’re doing well enough TO engage in what’s next.
From what I’ve seen inside other companies, not one of us signs up to ‘being unresponsive to change’. Imagine that. It would be like answering positively if asked “Raise your hand if you want to slowly die on the vine?”
The key is that most of us don’t even know when we’re making the small decisions that slow our organizations’ ability to change. It’s small details that enable change and adaptability. Sort of like watching a piano go out of tune.
And why is that? Because firms are too focused on living for the day instead of creating for the future. So here’s a start of a checklist. 5 questions you can answer to see if your organization has the right stuff when it comes to change:
1. Are you enabling good ideas?
If you’re loaded with bureaucracy, you might want to rethink your organization or build some flexibility into areas of product development so that new trends can be addressed quickly. Who spots trends in your company? How are they translated into products and services your customer has already told you they’d like? When was the last time you innovated a new offer (service or product)?
2. Do you ask your people to bring their brains to work?
Don’t make parking your brain by the entrance a prerequisite to working for your organization. Let people know that you want them to bring their whole selves to work. You’ll benefit by acquiring new ideas and increased retention and loyalty of associates. At Rubicon, I call this engaging the full gifts of people. If we can marry good natural gifts with appropriate projects and clients, amazing things can be created.
3. Same old, same old or liking the new thing?
If you’ve been conducting business the same way for the past five years (heck, 2 years) with few or no changes, that message gets delivered loud and clear. You can see the results. People don’t come up with new ideas, they aren’t constantly learning, and your infrastructure is top-heavy. There’s a propensity to avoid risk. You don’t have to bungee jump off the top of Mt. Whitney, but maybe have tuna instead of your regular baloney sandwich. Challenge people to generate the new from within.
4. What’s your personal comfort level with change?
Be honest. If you hate it, you’re probably communicating that to others. It’s time to look within. To live is to change – there is no escape. Challenge yourself to wake up and model the behavior you desire in your team. Put yourself in one new situation a day so that you are consciously meeting change on an ongoing basis. And, yes, it’s true that doing the same old thing is comforting. Just remember that comfort is not always the right answer.
5. Do you view change as opportunity?
If you’re looking at the competition wondering how they do it again and again, take a look at your team. Ask for their input and listen. Find opportunities to get closer to current customers and get the word out to people who will benefit from what you offer. Whether it’s developing an easy-open pickle jar or software that charts the puppy population of Uzbekistan.
Let me know what questions you would add to discern whether an organization is ready for change.