Everybody have one definition or the other for the word –CHANGE. Even the young and old has an idea for the meaning of Change. Some people see it as “becoming different”. Others see it as “doing something in a way that others have not done it before”. But whatever your own definition may be, change is change. To become a different man or woman is CHANGE. Today, everybody want a change in one aspect of life or the other. But the BIG QUESTION is “who will make this change happen?”. Some are looking at the government, and so on to do it. But I want to state here, that nobody can do it better than YOU can do it.
Leading Change in a simple manner both in your life and your business is just like counting A,B,C. let us take the 2 news for today about making this change to happen. First The Bad News: If you’re not willing to embrace change you’re not ready to lead. Put simply, leadership is not a static endeavor. In fact, leadership demands fluidity, which requires the willingness to recognize the need for change, and finally, the ability to lead change. Now The Good News: As much as some people want to create complexity around the topic of leading change, the reality is creating, managing and leading change is really quite simple. To prove my point, I’ll not only explain the entire change life-cycle in three short paragraphs, but I’ll do it in simple terms anyone can understand.
An Overview on the Importance of Change: While there is little debate that the successful implementation of change can create an extreme competitive advantage, it is not well understood that the lack of doing so can send a company (or an individual’s career) into a death spiral. Companies that pursue and embrace change are healthy, growing, and dynamic organizations, while companies that fear change are stagnant entities on their way to a slow and painful death. Agility, innovation, disruption, fluidity, decisiveness, commitment, and above all else, a bias toward action will lead to the creation of change. It is the implementation of change which results in evolving, growing and thriving companies. While most executives and entrepreneurs have come to accept the concept of change management as a legitimate business practice, and change leadership as a legitimate executive priority in theory, I have found very few organizations that have effectively integrated change as a core discipline and focus area in reality. Leading change life-cycle in three easy steps:
1. Identifying the Need for Change: The need for change exists in every organization. Other than irrational change solely for the sake of change, every corporation must change to survive. If your organization doesn’t innovate and change in accordance with market driven needs and demands it will fail – it’s just that simple. The most complex area surrounding change is focusing your efforts in the right areas, for the right reasons, and at the right times. The ambiguity and risk can be taken out of the change agenda by simply focusing on three areas: 1) Current Customers – what needs to change to better serve your customers? 2) Potential Customers…what needs to change to profitably create new customers? and; 3) Corporate Culture…what changes need to occur to better serve your workforce and improve their resources such that they can better influence items one and two above?
2. Leading Change: You cannot effectively lead change without understanding the landscape of change. There are four typical responses to change: The Victim; those who view change as a personal attack on their persona, their role, their job, or their area of responsibility. They view everything at an atomic level based upon how they perceive change will directly and indirectly impact them. The Neutral Bystander; This group is neither for nor against change. They will not directly or vocally oppose change, nor will they proactively get behind change. The Neutral Bystander will just go with the flow not wanting to make any waves, and thus hoping to perpetually fly under the radar. The Critic; The Critic opposes any and all change. Keep in mind that not all critics are overt in their resistance. Many critics remain in stealth mode trying to derail change behind the scenes by using their influence on others. Whether overt or covert, you must identify critics of change early in the process if you hope to succeed. The Advocate; The Advocate not only embraces change, they will evangelize the change initiative. Like The Critics, it is important to identify The Advocates early in the process to not only build the power base for change, but to give momentum and enthusiasm to the change initiative. Once you’ve identified these change constituencies you must involve all of them, message properly to each of them, and don’t let up. With the proper messaging and involvement even adversaries can be converted into allies.
3. Managing Change: Managing change requires key players who have control over 4 critical elements: 1) Vision Alignment – those that understand and agree with your vision must be leveraged in the change process. Those who disagree must be converted or have their influence neutralized; 2) Responsibility – you must have a sufficient level of responsibility to achieve the necessary results; 3) Accountability – you must be accountable for reaching your objectives, and; 4) Authority – if the first three items are in place yet, you have not been given the needed authority to get the job done, the first three items won’t mean much. It’s critical you set your set up your mind for success and not failure by giving yourself the proper tools, talent, training, resources, responsibility and authority necessary for finishing the race.
There you have it; the foundational elements of change in three short paragraphs. Now that you understand change, the following are the 10 points that need validating prior to launching a change initiative:
1. Alignment and Buy-in: The change being considered should be in alignment with your overall values, vision and mission. You must learn to champion a new initiative. You must Think always. If someone at the C-suite level is against the your initiative it will likely die a slow and painful death.
2. Advantage: If the initiative doesn’t provide a unique competitive advantage, preferably a game changing advantage, it should at least bring you closer to an even playing field.
3. Value Add: Any new project should preferably add value to existing initiatives, and if not, it should show a significant enough return on investment to justify the dilutive effect of not keeping the main thing the main thing.
4. Due Diligence: Just because an idea sounds good doesn’t mean it is. You should endeavor to validate proof of concept based upon detailed, credible research. Do your homework – put the change initiative through a rigorous set of risk/reward and cost/benefit analyses. Forget this step and you won’t be able to find a rock big enough to hide under.
5. Ease of Use: Whether the new initiative is intended for your organization, vendors, suppliers, partners or customers it must be simple and easy. Usability drives adoptability, and therefore it pays to keep things simple. Don’t make the mistake of confusing complexity with sophistication.
6. Identify the Risks: Nothing is without risk, and when you think something is without risk that is when you’re most likely to end-up in trouble. All initiatives should include detailed risk management provisions that contain sound contingency and exit planning.
7. Measurement: Any change initiative should be based upon solid business logic that drives corresponding financial engineering and modeling. Be careful of high level, pie-in-the-sky projections. The change being adopted must be measurable. Deliverables, benchmarks, deadlines, and success metrics must be incorporated into the plan.
8. The Project: Many companies treat change as some ethereal form of management hocus pocus that will occur by osmosis. A change initiative must be treated as a project. It must be detailed and deliverable on a schedule. The initiative should have a beginning, middle and end.
9. Accountability: Any new initiative should contain accountability provisions. Every task should be assigned and managed according to a plan and in the light of day.
10. Actionable: A successful initiative cannot remain in a strategic planning state. It must be actionable through focused tactical implementation. If the change initiative being contemplated is good enough to get through the other 9 steps, then it’s good enough to execute.
Finally, it is certain that you have the required skills to make this change happen. The only thing that is needed from you is to act that change now. That idea springing in your mind right now, is waiting for the upliftment of somebody close to you. You Must ACT it Now!
REMEMBER, YOU ARE THE CHANGE NIGERIA NEEDS TODAY!