Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Steps to Building a Change-Accepting Environment

Where Most People Live

While the world is a big place and we are becoming more and more interconnected with each passing day, the average person’s worldview revolves around a 50-mile radius of their home, and their mindset is one of putting milk on the table and spending time relaxing with family and friends. We don’t think about every global pressure and the market shifts taking place 24/7. This lulls us into thinking that tomorrow will be the same as today; just get up and go at the day like every other day. In some ways we end up “change fatigued,” looking not to embrace it, but to avoid and barricade ourselves against change.

At work, most of us imagine our organizations as a boat on calm waters with only occasional ripples. The visual of a crew, all rowing in sync, is the idea of organizational perfection. We instinctively believe that we exist in a steady state of normal operations, and that change occurs periodically, after which time we return to the status quo.

Today’s reality is nowhere near this thinking. Change is constant — it is never ending — and the status quo is nonexistent. A more accurate visual of business is a white water rapid of organizational, market and product change. The head waters are always in change, driven by globalization, capital constraints and technology. What was will never be again and waiting for this return to normal is not realistic. A better analogy would be a Kayak on a wild river with constantly roiling water.

This new reality provides organizations and individuals clarity about their role with their stakeholders. We need to assess continually how are we doing as a business, as a team, and as individuals within the team. Are we bringing value today, now, this hour, next month, five years from now? Success of the past is not always the best indicator of the success of the future. Instead, the attitude of how to live and operate within a change-filled environment is key. Yes, skills, training and experience can be great helps — but the core thinking, the belief in change as a way of operating, is the most important place to be grounded. You must believe in your heart-of-hearts that change is real; it is present in all we do and that it can be a catalyst for good things.

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