Disruptive change is inevitable – Change is constant

Change is inevitable.

More and more organisations today face a dynamic and changing environment. The oft-heard rallying cry in today’s organisations is “Change or die.” Survival in today’s global economy requires organisations to be flexible and adapt readily to the ever-changing marketplace. Change has become the norm. It is as necessary for organisations to pay as much attention to the psychological and social aspects of change as they do to the technological aspects.

We live in an era of risk and instability. Globalisation, new technologies, and greater transparency have combined to upend the business environment and give many CEOs a deep sense of unease. Just look at the numbers. Since 1980 the volatility of business operating margins, largely static since the 1950s, has more than doubled, as has the size of the gap between winners (companies with high operating margins) and losers (those with low ones).

Change is the one true constant in business, especially when it comes to operating a business. Having defined processes in place to effectively manage change can help companies sustain success.

In today’s business environment, knowing how to successfully navigate these changes and develop appropriate and effective processes to properly manage such change is a must. It’s virtually impossible for organisations to make sound strategic decisions and completely accomplish objectives when deprived of strong change management strategies. This is especially true in the world of project, program and portfolio management, where obstacles and ambiguity are inevitable at every juncture.

Companies all over the world find that they have to continually make changes to the way they work in order to stay ahead of the game, be profitable, and be relevant. Oftentimes, the changes could be externally mandated, internally conceived, or both, but the reality is that companies do have to evolve, change, or die. The global landscape is changing: businesses are moving to take advantage of new markets; organisations are restructuring to operate better, given the current market dynamic; competition is causing companies to radically change the way they do business.

The old business is not coming back – this is not just a statistic, it is a fact.

Companies operate in an increasingly complex world: Business environments are more diverse, dynamic, and interconnected than ever – and far less predictable. A study I read recently suggests that 75% of the S&P 500 will turn over in the next 15 years.

Many businesses that “have done things the same way for years” are affected by disruptive change: the economy changes, the competition changes, products change, technology changes, customers change, employees change, vendors change, buying methods change, delivery methods change.

Disruptive change is coming, and the only question is whether companies are going to cause it or fall victim to it. Disruption is not easy, to create or to confront it.

Businesses need to grow continuously in one way or another to achieve and maintain success. Growth comes by making positive changes that promote growth and by responding correctly to external changes.

Organisations throughout the world and across the global markets also recognise the need to embrace ‘nimbleness’ and ‘agility’ if they are to survive in the long run. The ever-changing landscape, globalisation, global dynamics, make it inevitable that companies have to evolve fast, repeatedly, and in a continuously improving manner in order to comply with regulations, collaborate with customers, and stay ahead of competition.

Whilst awareness of the challenges associated with change is prevalent, there is also compelling evidence of the long-term benefit of being great at driving organisational change. Therefore, it is expedient to look at some of the reasons why change is difficult, so that we can deliberately tackle the reasons for change complexity.

Sustaining success depends on an organisation’s ability to adapt

Why can some companies take advantage of any change the market brings, while others struggle with market-necessitated modification? The reasons why will differ for each organisation, but the question is definitely worth asking especially in light of the fact that the pace of change is accelerating at the fastest rate in recorded history.

Most companies find it hard to transform themselves in difficult circumstances. Corporate transformation under pressure.

Leadership needs to have a mindset that although change ability (agility, resilience) is essential for the survival and growth of many companies, there needs to be a concerted effort to build capacity to lead change effectively, and to purposefully build a change friendly culture in a systemic manner. This means that change leadership or sponsorship becomes a leadership competency that is recruited for and developed in leaders in the same way that it is done for other competencies such as decision-making.
Companies most likely to be successful in making change work to their advantage are the ones that no longer view change as a discrete event to be managed, but as a constant opportunity to evolve the business.

Change readiness is the new change management: change readiness is the ability to continuously initiate and respond to change in ways that create advantage, minimise risk, and sustain performance.

Organisations, and the people within them, must constantly re-invent themselves to remain competitive. Sustaining success depends on an organization’s ability to adapt to a changing environment.

Senior executives recognise that in order to compete optimally in the current and future landscapes, their companies will be expected to do more for less in a more dynamic landscape with issues of globalisation, new market opportunities, and new ways of doing business. There is a recognition that the changes are going to increase and the demands for business benefits realisation will also increase. It is therefore no longer optional for leaders to increase their ability to successfully implement strategies by increasing their ability to manage change and in fact leveraging this change management skill to become a competitive advantage.

If you’re struggling or your market is down, change management is especially critical because growing companies are not afforded the time to weather the storm of down markets or decreased demand. Offensive change when the company is doing well is a whole lot easier to manage than defensive change.
With this sentiment, I am not suggesting that you overhaul your business entirely change your mission, vision, and values or abandon your product strategy with every minor bump in the road. I am suggesting, however, that the best companies the ones that experience exceptional long-term success are able to quickly recognise the need to change and make the tweaks necessary to help their business continue its growth trajectory.

Here are three tips that can help the journey of change easier:

  • Top down support from the CEO level down to the senior executives below the CEO is what ultimately drives successful change. When the changes are major, you need to create a burning platform scenario that will encourage a sense of urgency.
  • Clear, consistent, and transparent communication by all executives is critical to explain why the change is necessary. Throughout the change process, it’s important to regularly and clearly communicate the reasons for change and reinforce that message to your team so they understand why you’re taking the hill in front of you.
  • Quickly identify the senior team members who don’t buy in and encourage and support them to leave the company if they refuse to embrace change. This means you may lose some very good people who helped you get to where you are, but those people won’t be as valuable going forward if they aren’t willing to help you get to where you need to be.

Final thought on the subject – business is a little like the growth rings on a tree. Every year, something changes it could be your product, your top competitors, your customers’ preferences, or any number of things. The best companies adapt to those changes, reinvent themselves when change requires it, and find a way to grow – in good times and bad.

Successful organisations foster a positive attitude toward change by anticipating it and purposefully planning for change. Change must be addressed in an intentional, goal-oriented manner. Change is something that people should do, not something that is done to them. People are more comfortable with change when they participate in planning for or implementing it because they gain some sense of control which reduces their fears.

As George Soros once said:

‘Market fundamentalists recognize that the role of the state in the economy is always disruptive, inefficient, and generally has negative connotations. This leads them to believe that the market mechanism can take care of all the problems.’

Why Leadership Matters

As all leaders experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, you will know you have been tested in ways that you never expected. And yet, somehow, we all prevail. Despite the frustrations, anger and fear, you will have learned a lot about yourself. You will be be forced to recognise your own weaknesses and eccentricities, and discover reserves of strength that you had not known existed. In the process, you will become less judgmental and more accepting of yourself and of others.

Leadership forces you to stay true to yourself and to recognise when you are at your best and when you are at your worst; the important thing is to stay focused and keep moving forward. You will learn that overcoming adversity is what brings the most satisfaction, and that achievements are made more meaningful by the struggle it took to achieve them.
Leadership will conquer, the most profound truth of your individual journey’s. Courage, drive, determination, resilience, imagination, energy and the right team, you will find success.
Winston Churchill once said:

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

A single brain sometimes cannot take decisions alone. One needs the assistance and guidance of others as well to accomplish the tasks within the desired time frame. In a team, every member contributes to his level best to achieve the assigned targets. The team members must be compatible with each other to avoid unnecessary conflicts and misunderstandings.

Every team should have a team leader who can hold their team together and extract the best out of the team members. The team leader should be such that every individual draw inspiration from them and seek their advice and guidance whenever required. A leader should be a role model for his team members and a great mentor.

I had the pleasure of meeting Brendan Hall for lunch recently – he led the Spirit of Australia crew to overall victory in the Clipper 2009-10 Race, when aged 28. It was the second of three times the trophy has gone to an Australian team.

Recruiter 360 TV – Brendan Hall, Author of “Team Spirit” and winning Clipper round the world captain

Following the win, Brendan wrote the book “Team Spirit”, based on his race insights into the teamwork, leadership, skill, courage and focus required for performance.

Talking to Brendan he discussed how his team had just faced the ultimate challenge and one that they could never have been prepared for but circumstances dictated that they sail across the world’s largest ocean at a particularly fearsome time of year, on their own.

‘They had pulled together in the true sense of teamwork, and kept each other safe.’ ‘I feel it was their greatest achievement, and it was mine by association as I had got them to the point where they could take on that challenge. Ultimately that experience and those qualities led to our overall result.’

His crew were the same raw materials that every other boat had. They had characters and influential people and its leaders, together they made a great leadership team. The approach Brendan took was to empower everybody throughout the race and the goal was to get to a point where Brendan was redundant on deck and he could concentrate on everything else, the weather routing and the navigation.

A true team leader plays an important role in guiding the team members and motivating them to stay focused. One who sets a goal and objective for the team. Every team is formed for a purpose.
The leader alone should not set the goal, suggestions should be invited from one and all and issues must be discussed on an open forum. He must make his team members well aware of their roles and responsibilities. He must understand his team members well. The duties and responsibilities must be assigned as per their interest and specialization for them to accept the challenge willingly.

Never impose things on them.
Encourage the team members to help each other. Create a positive ambience at the workplace. Avoid playing politics or provoking individuals to fight. Make sure that the team members do not fight among themselves. In case of a conflict, don’t add fuel to the fire, rather try to resolve the fight immediately. Listen to both the parties before coming to any conclusion. Try to come to an alternative feasible for all.

The following 5 reasons summarise the importance of teamwork and why it matters:

Teamwork motivates unity in the workplace
A teamwork environment promotes an atmosphere that fosters friendship and loyalty. These close-knit relationships motivate employees in parallel and align them to work harder, cooperate and be supportive of one another.

Individuals possess diverse talents, weaknesses, communication skills, strengths, and habits. Therefore, when a teamwork environment is not encouraged this can pose many challenges towards achieving the overall goals and objectives. This creates an environment where employees become focused on promoting their own achievements and competing against their fellow colleagues. Ultimately, this can lead to an unhealthy and inefficient working environment.
When teamwork is working the whole team would be motivated and working toward the same goal in harmony.

Teamwork offers differing perspectives and feedback
Good teamwork structures provide your organization with a diversity of thought, creativity, perspectives, opportunities, and problem-solving approaches. A proper team environment allows individuals to brainstorm collectively, which in turn increases their success to problem solve and arrive at solutions more efficiently and effectively.

Effective teams also allow the initiative to innovate, in turn creating a competitive edge to accomplish goals and objectives. Sharing differing opinions and experiences strengthens accountability and can help make effective decisions faster, than when done alone.

Team effort increases output by having quick feedback and multiple sets of skills come into play to support your work. You can do the stages of designing, planning, and implementation much more efficiently when a team is functioning well.

Teamwork provides improved efficiency and productivity
When incorporating teamwork strategies, you become more efficient and productive. This is because it allows the workload to be shared, reducing the pressure on individuals, and ensure tasks are completed within a set time frame. It also allows goals to be more attainable, enhances the optimization of performance, improves job satisfaction and increases work pace.

Ultimately, when a group of individuals works together, compared to one person working alone, they promote a more efficient work output and are able to complete tasks faster due to many minds intertwined on the same goals and objectives of the business.

Teamwork provides great learning opportunities
Working in a team enables us to learn from one another’s mistakes. You are able to avoid future errors, gain insight from differing perspectives, and learn new concepts from more experienced colleagues.

In addition, individuals can expand their skill sets, discover fresh ideas from newer colleagues and therefore ascertain more effective approaches and solutions towards the tasks at hand. This active engagement generates the future articulation, encouragement and innovative capacity to problem solve and generate ideas more effectively and efficiently.

Teamwork promotes workplace synergy
Mutual support shared goals, cooperation and encouragement provide workplace synergy. With this, team members are able to feel a greater sense of accomplishment, are collectively responsible for outcomes achieved and feed individuals with the incentive to perform at higher levels.

When team members are aware of their own responsibilities and roles, as well as the significance of their output being relied upon by the rest of their team, team members will be driven to share the same vision, values, and goals. The result creates a workplace environment based on fellowship, trust, support, respect, and cooperation.

Final thoughts
Leadership is a necessary element to promoting teamwork in an organisation. When leaders are great, there is a lot of positive teamwork and many benefits. However, when leaders are poor there can be negative consequences that are completely opposite to the benefits of teamwork.

In business, leaders have the responsibility to do what they reasonably can to promote a good team environment. Practicing team-oriented leadership strategies can do a lot to usher in a sense of teamwork among professional team members. It is up to the leaders to make sure teams are functioning to their highest capacity. Although it sounds like a large responsibility, the benefits of promoting teamwork are incredible!

Henry Ford once said:

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right. Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”