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Posts Tagged ‘change’

What are the possibilities?

School holidays are nearly over and I’m looking forward to focusing on my clients and future clients.  My goal this year is to help as many people as possible to see the possibilities – ie think strategically!

Without the motivation and ability to think about opportunities, risks and possible consequences of elements outside our own control, it is impossible to prepare your business (or career) adequately for the future.  Experience tells me that many people process information as discrete data, unrelated to other information.  I sometimes wonder if this is because of the way we chunk topics through school and university – learning about each in its own silo and not necessarily thinking about how that topic is part of a whole, influencing and being influenced by all the other topics being studied in other departments.  This discrete way of viewing information inhibits managers and professionals from engaging in systems and strategic thinking, needed for preparing and planning ahead.

I have some favorite methods of increasing your capacity to think more strategically.  Here’s three of them:

  • When you read or hear news items, ask yourself how this could impact on you or your business, on your suppliers and on your clients.  Think through 2 – 3 levels of impact.  For instance, in my daily today, there was an article about how my city’s river might have to supply water to a larger city.   I wondered how it will affect manufacturing, farming and other local businesses dependent on water supply (my level 1 thinking).  And if they are affected, how might that flow on to my clients (service firms) – my level 2.  Level 3 would be the impact on my business.  I also wondered what benefits my city might gain from this – what would we want in return?  I thought about how that would affect everyone here in our typical ‘drought’ months, when we already have restricted water use. These are just some of the many aspects that I could relate to this topic.  But you get the idea.
  • Deliberately access a wide variety of information.  Read about topics unrelated to your normal reading.  Ask yourself how you can use the ideas in the articles in your own business, and how trends in these other areas could affect you or your clients.  It’s easy to access a wide variety of topics on-line, and off-line the magazines in cafes, doctors and dentists waiting rooms are good ways to extend your exposure to new ideas.
  • Mix and mingle with professionals and specialists in areas other than your own.  A scary idea, I know, but you’ll be amazed at their different world view, and also their predictions for the near future.  Just as you know lots about your area or industry, they know what’s happening in theirs.  And what happens in one place, sooner or later impacts in others.

In business, thinking about a range of scenarios and preparing for new risks and opportunities always beats out being forced to respond with no forewarning or preparation.  You can’t predict everything, but you can be regularly thinking about possible impacts and be ready to respond to change, whatever that change may turn out to be.

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Categories: Business and Strategy

The Great Gatsby and Strategy Launches

I just read a review of the new release movie ‘The Great Gatsby’ that said it’s extravagant and will basically blow your mind with the imagery and decadence, but afterwards you’ll wonder what the fuss was about. It made me think of many strategy launches I’ve endured over the years. Big launch, big fuss, then – not much. Which was a pity, because in many cases a lot of analysis, thinking and resurces had gone into it. Here’s 4 reasons why a ra-ra big-fuss launch of your strategy might be a bad idea –

1. People can get the impression that the work is done, the strategy is ‘achieved’, when in fact, the work is only just beginning. The work of implementation. Without it, all the resources that have gone into the strategy development are a complete waste of time.

2. Often staff treat big launches as BOHICA (for the uninitiated this stands somewhat un-charmingly for ‘bend over, here it comes again!). This tends to result in a fairly determined ignoring of the new strategy by many.

3. A big launch can tend to highlight who wasn’t involved, and even if different areas have had representation, this is often forgotten as time passes. It can feel to many like this is something top management are handing down, and that really doesn’t get much buy-in.

4. A big showy launch tends to highlight what you’re intending to change, rather than what you are keeping. A better way to get buy-in is often to start with what is working well, and what is staying the same.

Jenni offers a free report ‘How to think strategically’ at her website – http://www.strategies-direct.com

How to make change happen

Last week we spent a day at the beach, and as I walked along in the shallow waves, I was surprised at the strength of the water going opposite the tidal direction.  At the time the tide was going out, and certainly the water pulled back out to sea strongly.  But equally strong it seemed, were the waves heading into shore.  To the extent that a range of lovely shells, seaweeds and other not-so-lovely debris headed in on each wave and some was left on the beach for us to find.  In each set of waves, there was only a small difference in how far back to sea the water actually moved.  And yet the tide does goes in and then out to schedule. It struck me that this was an excellent analogy for strategy implementation (and usually that means change!).

When you are implementing something new, it often feels like those waves.  For every movement forward you make, there are many actions and behaviours pulling in the opposite direction, or just clinging to the existing ways of doing things.  It seems that for every piece of progress you make, there are equal areas of resistance.  This can be frustrating – especially if you have a time frame you are working to.

Most change management theory, in a nutshell,  works on persuading the people affected by the change that it is a good idea, and doing lots of communication about why you are changing and how it will all work.  This is all validated stuff and I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t do it.  However, in my experience, no matter how well this is all managed, there will be pockets of resistance and it will take longer than you would like to get things implemented.  So what can we learn from the sea about making change happen?  Here are my thoughts:

  1. It takes persistance over time.  Assume you will need to keep communicating about the changes for some time, and plan to keep monitoring behaviours and practices well into the future to ensure things do not slip back in the wrong direction.  I encourage clients to keep strategy actions in their plans until such time as they are able to be regularly monitored somewhere else in their day to day processes.
  2. You might feel like half the time you are going backwards. Progress might seem small at times, but as long as you are generally moving in the right direction you will get there.  Think the old class tale of the rabbit and the tortoise.
  3. There’s likely to be benefits from resistance.  Often the questions asked, or issues raised, are matters that could cause problems down the track or result in better outcomes.  I was recently  involved in a project where a recommended action was going to cost double the usual amount.  It seemed the best idea to the project team for various reasons, but when some resistance arose and questions were asked, it prompted some looking at alternatives and a far superior option was uncovered.  At the time it appeared to be slowing things down and putting at risk some of the timeframes, but actually the resistance turned out to be beneficial.
  4. If a massive force of nature like the sea can change direction every few hours, creating and implementing change in our organizations ought to be a doddle, oughtn’t it?  Of course it rarely is!  But take heart that if the sea can keep  moving and changing, surely your people can.  Keep insisting on the actions and behaviours you need from them and over time it will happen.
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