Friday, March 22, 2013

"To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often"

The current business environment is very volatile, things are always changing. Companies need to be able to change quickly in order to keep up with the market, or even better, in order to drive the market.

Winston Churchill said "To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often". Another interesting quote about change comes from Charles Darwin, he said "It it snot the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change".

Organisational change management is something that not many professionals, including senior executives, know how to deal with it. I have encountered one too many executives that think that training is all there is to change management.

Wikipedia defines change management as an approach to shift organisations or individuals from a current state to a future desired state. It is an organisational process aimed at helping members of the organisation to embrace, or even desire, change in their business environment.

Change management uses structures and tools to control an organisational change effort. The goal is to maximise benefit and to minimise impact on workers to avoid distractions.

Responsibility for change management lies with executives and managers. They are responsible for introducing change that brings about improvement in a way that employees can cope with.

One classic mistake in change management occurs when managers spend months working on a change process and then expect everyone to accept it. Change needs to be gradual but constant.

John Kotter is a well regarded author of change management books. He recommmends the followwing steps for successful change.
  •  Increase urgency. Explain and lead others into accepting and desiring the change.
  • Build the guiding team. Gert the right people with time, commitment and the necessary skills to achieve the desired future state.
  • Get the vision right.
  • Communicate for buy in. Communicate the change often with the objective to get buy in. You want people to desire the change and see it as positive to their circumstances. Make communication simple and straight to the point. Although communication is important, getting the balance right is vital so you will not be overbearing and bore everyone to the point they don't want to hear about it.
  • Empowerment actions. Senior management must empower  change agents into action, remove obstacles and do all they can to  support the process.
  • Create short term wins. Gradual change is ideal and easier to process. Constant and positive change minimises the impact on the organisation and keeps the moment going.
  • Don't let up. Long change process can be hard to achieve. Keep everyone motivated and working towards achieving the next milestone. Gradual change that can be achieve in bite-size chunks will keep everyone motivated and moving towards the final objective.
  • Make change last. Make change part of company culture, employ workers that embrace change and always want to achieve new heights.
Business change is not only necessary but it is vital for businesses to survive in volatile business environments.


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