It is easy to talk about change, just like the children’s story of the cat and the bell (creating the idiom of belling the cat); it is easier said than done. The challenge is to create a desire to change, to move and to progress; without creating the raw panic that sends individuals into a state of fear.
There is often misquoted Darwin statement that ‘only the strongest survive’; when in fact he framed the statement as ‘those who are best at adapting to changing circumstances will survive’. In today’s age, we need to be adaptable and ready to change. As leaders, we need to lead and direct change.
How do we get people to adapt and change in a positive and healthy way? As discussed in previous blog posts on the Challenge of Change and the Stress of Change, change is experienced in a very individual way. What is easy for one individual is not the same for another. We encourage change when we create the right variables for change.
The process or need for change can be illustrated with an equation for change. While this is a simple way of illustrating what variables are needed to achieve change, either for an individual or for an organisation; it does show the need to intentionally lead a change process. (The change equation is documented at the bottom of this blog post if you would like to have a look).
Without arguing the merits of a change equation model, the need for an intention by a leader to manage the change process in really important. As leaders, we need to set a course for the change. Such a course or vision is not always clear, but someone needs to hold the steering.
Providing leadership for change must be done by providing a steady hand. In some respects this is balancing situations of the ‘burning platform’ and the ‘staying stagnant’. It is all about vision, direction and leadership.
There are so many companies and industries that have fallen victim to keeping the status quo, for not acting on the burning platform: the music and retail industry and moving online; through to companies such as Kodak and Blackberry who got lost in their past success. All are well documented situations that show that the status quo is never good space to hold. The keeping status quo is never a good enough reason to not change but ignoring a burning building is probably worse.
Change is an iterative process of small steps. I worked with a group of partners who would often say; ‘you climb Mount Everest by putting one foot in front of another’. Stories of the ‘boiling frog’ and the ‘eastern and western camel’ are great for illustrating the point. Small steps to facilitate change are so important. You build trust and create momentum. Some organisations use models such as agile programmeing to create short term change projects; which are great for IT projects. However, culture change can be tricker.
In organisations, we have differing generations, personalities and styles; mixed with cultures, contexts and experience; this is all mixed into an organisation’s culture and values. In today’s age, which is now seen as the concept age rather that the knowledge age, adaptability is the key skill to survival and success. Some people will choose not to change, it is their choice.
We we need to prepare our staff for this ability to adapt and change in a personal and individual context and this is achieved through over communication and high levels of engagement. While seem as time wasting by many, proving opportunities to listen, ask questions and connect; organisations will be able to ensure most if not all those who are travelling through the change are succeeding; they are also building the capability to succeed again in the future.
Change is a personal journey that needs to be lead with intention, communication and patience. Each change process is about supporting the individual to achieve their success, balancing the move of the organisation.
At Cedar Consulting, we work with organisations to facilitate change at a structure, process and culture levels. We partner with leaders to direct and steer the change process. This ensures great success for the change process and the organisation as they pioneer into the future. For a discussion on how we can help you, email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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DETAILS ON THE CHANGE EQUATION
The original formula (By Gleicher and published by Beckhard) is defined as: C = (ABD) > X
C = change
A = Dissatisfaction with the status quo
B = Desired clear state or Vision for the Future
D = Practical steps to the desired state
X = Cost of the change (this cost is both psychological and financial)
The Dannemiller version of the equation is as follows: C = D x V x F > R
Three factors must be present for meaningful organizational change to take place. These factors are:
D = Dissatisfaction with how things are now
V = Vision of what is possible
F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision
If the product of these three factors is greater than
R = Resistance
then change is possible.
The key differences between the two equations is the Resistance (R) and the Cost (X). The principle remains that for change to occur, both the resistance and the cost need to be understood and address. In order for this to happen, each variable in the change equation needs to be addressed in the organisation.
Other change specialists argue that the equation is as follows: Vision + Skills + Incentive + Resources + Action Plan = Change