Leadership & General Management

Change as a Habit and Not a Project

How to eliminate CHANGE from your vocabulary and be more successful!

As a professional who is familiar with the concept of change and all its rhetoric, I was recently inspired by a seminar with Jan van Veen from moreMomentum to think differently. I have always been quite a balanced person believing change is a must, but too much at one time can be detrimental! However, in our discussion we developed the idea that if change is in an organisations DNA, then maybe this no longer is a problem. If change is just continual adaption, then companies could save themselves a fortune in consultants and collateral cost!

From my own work experiences, there is a huge difference in attitude between organisations where change is accepted as part of everyday life and those where it is seen as a threat.  If change is truly embedded in their cultural DNA, you will hear comments such as,

‘Oh you know, we are always changing our organisation, products or people’.

It’s just accepted as part of life. Is this good or bad? One thing which is true is that in the last 15 years, the business environment has become exponentially more dynamic, as the fear of disruption from technology has become a very real and tangible threat!  With powerful connectivity and analytics tools increasingly being integrated into business processes, companies are realising that they have no choice but embrace new ways of thinking. Perhaps this is one reason we are seeing the rise of the innovation professional. But rather than create specialist positions or change initiatives, perhaps it makes more sense to focus on culture. Increasingly we see successful companies exhibit the characteristics of self-learning, where the idea of adapting and moving forward is a natural part of how people act.

A self-learning organisation is one that has the rigour to identify and quantify problems, yet the discipline to shift to solution thinking, develop forward momentum and achieve results. It is where every individual exhibits this burning desire to improve and change becomes second nature.

This problem-solution-problem-solution learning loop sounds fairly straight forward, but actually requires a level of management maturity that is often surprisingly missing from many organisations.

In a previous article how to harness tomorrows technology, we highlighted seven key actions managers can take to explicitly integrate self-learning into the organisations culture:

  1. Ensure your team has a sense of purpose: Purpose is what drives us all forward in both our private and work lives. It comes from 3 perspectives:
    1. Know why we are here!
    2. Feel that the business we work for stands for the things we believe in
    3. That there is consistency between what a business says and what it does.
      By constantly focussing on these three elements, sharing experiences, best practices and success stories people start to believe in an organisation’s purpose.
  1. Communicate, collaborate and communicate again: This is the mind-set of leadership change. Get comfortable with being out there, in front of your team providing a clear direction, but with the clear understanding that it is your team members who will deliver a great solution.
  2. Focus on the language of solutions: It is hard for many English speakers to appreciate, but language is the gateway to understanding culture. Without speaking French, it is challenging to truly understand what it means to be French. The same is true in companies, which means achieving a common solution focused language is a critical step in embedding a ‘way of thinking’ within the DNA of the organisation.
  3. Be a role model in what you say and do: It is important to remember that you cannot tell people how to think. They have to figure that out for themselves. The only tools you have is to influence your team by what you say and what you do!
  4. Relentless follow up and training: Evolving a company’s intrinsic DNA is not a one shot event. It’s a journey, it’s relentless, be prepared for the long haul! In small teams it is possible to drive this as a manager, but within larger organisations, a more formalised programme is required to touch every individual. Training and support programmes that emphasise and re-emphasise solution thinking should be embedded into your annual budget if you are really serious about change.
  5. Be open to Outside-IN thinking: It’s a sad fact, but people will often listen more to people outside their immediate organisation, whether that be another department, customer or consultant. Be aware of this and use it to your advantage to influence and embed the ‘Self-Learning gene’ in your people
  6. Be prepared to manage people out of the organisation: Sometime people for whatever reason are not prepared to change. In my experience more people than you might think can live with change (I am an optimist), but when it’s clear that its not working, be prepared to be ruthless and actively manage poor performers out of the organisation.

These are very similar to the 4 habits that Jan Van Veen talked about in his recent blog  How a Compelling Direction Accelerates Change:

  1. Direction
    Everyone shares a clear and succinct picture of changes in the industry, where the company is heading and what needs to change over the coming years. They all understand how they can contribute to the change, and ultimately, fit in.
  2. Dialogue
    Across all teams and levels there is a constructive and forward-looking dialogue on performance, progress, priorities and aligned actions. Everyone feels secure and confident to adapt and try new approaches.
  3. Decision Making
    Everyone has the power to make decisions within their role, to adjust, perform and improve. There are adequate guiding principles to ensure coherence and alignment of all decisions.
  4. Discovery
    Everyone is aware of (potential) trends, opportunities and threats and the best practices available. They spend time in exploring, testing and learning. There is more focus on new things which go beyond the current core business, which is imperative for future success.

If you would like to explore eliminating the C word from your vocabulary, then we would recommend attending a forthcoming moreMomentum Impulse session.

  • January 24 in Birmingham (UK)
  • March 21 in Munich (Germany)
  • May 14 in New York (USA)
  • May 23 in Eindhoven (The Netherlands)

Si2 Hub readers receive 30% discount by entering Si2 as promotional code . Book your seat for your preferred session now.

Nick Frank is Managing Partner at Si2 Partners, a consultancy helping clients leverage services to win in industrial markets. Nick is an expert in Service Transformation, specifically helping organisations use technology to find new value within their customer’s value chain, facilitating bootcamps to help teams solve challenging problems, and business assessments to kick start the change process

Si2 ON-Demand: Deep dive remote sessions with Experts, backed up by analyst and research resources to solve problems and get things done faster, with less mistakes, at lower cost and less risk! – A fresh new approach for Service Leaders and their teams. To find out more see our post on this blog or visit Si2 Partners

If you are a Service professional (manager, practitioner, consultant or academic) in an industrial setting join our group Service in Industry on Linkedin

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