Ready, Set, Change

Recently, someone asked on LinkedIn, “How do you build change readiness.”

In today’s business world if you are managing the change, you really are too late. A successful business in today’s market must be able to change quickly and change often. They need to view change as part of their daily lives.

If you are still focusing on managing every change that impacts your company, you are probably complaining about things like change overload and saturation. More than likely, you are prioritizing change efforts based on available resources and prioritizing the changes where possible.

If this is you, more than likely, your communication channels are overloaded with change and your employees and customers are numb to your constant change efforts to the point that they’re tuning you out.

This is because the world is changing too fast for the old way of doing business–managing change.

In today’s world, you need to put the change managers out of business by building a constant state of change readiness.

It’s too hard…

I don’t know how to do that…

No one is ready for that…

Those re just some of the arguments I would expect. The fact is, change readiness is a change in itself and it’s led by the change managers themselves. This is one of the reasons it is so difficult–the ones who lead the change now have to change their approach and they are having trouble changing themselves.

It really is pretty simple. For those that understand the ADKAR approach, I will use that model to explain. You can apply any model here to he the same effect–no need to relearn anything yourself.

First, your case for change needs to evolve from the project-focused case for change to the strategic-focused case for change. Instead of developing a new case for change for every change effort, take a look at the last several reasons for your change and you will probably find a higher set of the same reasons.

Perhaps your company is growing too fast or it’s bleeding money? Perhaps technology is changing quickly and your company needs to constantly keep up. Maybe regulatory compliance is constantly changing and it has been driving your need for change. These are the strategic reasons that your company needs to change so often. The project reasons are simply tactical responses to these change drivers.

Define these strategic reasons for change and then share them constantly with your employees. Instead of constantly creating new cases for change, develop one and make employees and customers aware of why you must enter a level of constant change. To be able to change on a dime.

Now that you have your burning platform, as they say, talk to you audiences about this need. Listen to them, encourage them, show them how being ready to change is better than the constant start and stop methods of the past. Build management and communication routines into the daily operations that actually make change the norm instead of something you do when change comes along. Everyone will eventually move to the new operating model because this is the way you do business now.

If you build the awareness for the need, but don’t change the way you operate every day, then your audience will see the need as just words. Also, the stakeholders for this change are all employees and all customers. You are not targeting a group of just those affected like in a tactical change. No, you are making ready everyone I your company–even your supply chain needs to be ready to change.

This new operating model designed for constant retooling caused by incremental change will build the desire for the employees.

Last, comes the skills of those who work for the company–employees and suppliers. You need to focus on ups killing in areas that they may not normally work today. Building skills in analysis, change, process, and relationships can help them be more nimble and agile. Teaching project management and process improvement basics to everyone, not just the select cadre of leads in these areas gives them the tools they need to make changes themselves and constantly improve what they do everyday.

You also need to engage your learning systems to be more resilient to provide quicker training delivery on new processes and tools. Almost moving to a just in time training development and delivery model.

This give the company that knowledge edge that they need to implement the immediate changes at a rapid pace.

If you have the employees this ready all the time, then change can happen much faster and in tighter circles than ever before. You can relax communication around specific changes and simply beat the strategic change drum to a constant pace and weave in the tactical activities as a constant stream of examples of how effective you are at meeting the new demand.

This is an organization that is ready for change.

Are you ready?


About johnrknotts
John Knotts is a results-oriented business professional leader, manager, and supervisor with experience from the military, small business, several nonprofits, and is currently a management consultant. Working out of the San Antonio, Texas, he retired from the Air Force in July 2008 and worked with Booz Allen Hamilton from the end of October 2008 to December 2011. Now he is a Strategic Business Adviser with USAA. John leads large and small strategic transformations and has extensive experience in the areas of change management, strategic planning, process improvement, strategic communication and marketing, strategic human capital and resource management, education and training, facilitation, organizational design and development, modeling and simulation, financial and budget analysis, activity based costing and management, quality management, competitive sourcing and privatization, leadership development, and business development.

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