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Winds of change in our organisation: the survival guide

Business development
Management
by Don Lowe CEO
| 5 min read

Any business looking to grow or significantly scale in a short period of time needs to prepare itself for a metamorphosis. Many businesses will be going through change without realising it – or having change pushed upon them. Hey, we have all been there! These days, businesses need to embrace these changes in order to prosper.

Organisational change is the process a company goes through when changing their strategies, processes, procedures, technologies and even culture. It encompasses the effects that these changes have on your company.

“​It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

– ​Charles Darwin

Changes may have originated from an external source such as advances in technology, socioeconomic pressure or the market. You may have had concerns about client needs, performance issues or costs. These are internal sources of change. It is challenging to get everyone on board when starting a change initiative. Communication can break down and create misunderstandings. People lose focus and their motivation dwindles. There might even be a seed of resistance forming among the staff because they can’t relate to the final goal.

No matter what form of change your organisation is going through – know that it will be a challenge that needs to and can be managed efficiently.

Why is organisational change important?

While going through change can be daunting, it is also a chance for employees and leaders to learn new skills and explore new opportunities. While change can be disruptive when you are in the midst of it – it generally leads to an increase in productivity and service delivery. Technology and consumer trends are two catalysts that have seen many businesses go through change initiatives.

How do you manage change within your organisation?

All changes involve adopting new mindsets, practices, and behaviour. But our natural reaction is fear. We can’t help it. It is just the way the brain is wired. Accommodating change is made much easier if you have a structured approach. It will enable everyone to cope better with the change.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

– H.P. Lovecraft

There are many well-established bodies of knowledge and methodologies that can help us create tailored change solutions. For example, Process of Ongoing Improvement (POOGI), as proposed in the theory of constraints by Eliyahu M. Goldratt . This is a management methodology that requires a scientific approach to improvement. Using this method, you need to identify the main limiting factor (constraint) which prevents or complicates you achieving your goal. And then you improve/ manage on the constraint so it won’t limit your work anymore.

The theory of constraints was introduced by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt in 1984. You can get the best understanding of his approach by reading his gripping novel “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement”.

“Anybody who considers himself a manager should rush out, buy and devour this book immediately. If you are the only one in your place to have read it, your progress along the path to the top may suddenly accelerate…one of the most outstanding business books I have ever encountered.”

– Punch Magazine

Some important aspects for any organisation to include in any change models that they adopt are:

1. A clear vision for the end “to-be” state.

People will resist change if it does not communicate a better future that they can relate to. The vision helps all the people involved to understand where they are heading;

2. Do not keep information about changes at the management level.

The sooner you involve employees in the process of changes, the easier it will be for them to accept and help in implementing the changes. Be aware that informal channels of information are more likely to cause havoc within the organisation;

3. Incremental and evolutionary improvement initiatives with good feedback loops.

In this case, the small wins can be capitalised on and mistakes can be learned from and thereby corrected early. This will reduce resistance to change and enable sustainable, institutionalized improvements;

4. Do not try to implement all the changes by yourself, remember effective delegation.

It won’t just simplify the process personally for you, but will also give your employees a sense of involvement;

5. Effective communication channels with all concerned.

Your employees will need more information during the change process. It is also a good way to get feedback from everyone involved;

6. Where possible adopt repeatable processes and methodologies to implement the change.

This enables people to focus on what needs to be changed and reduces the stress of learning new ways relating to how change is implemented;

7. Stay positive.

Your confident attitude will help employees in reducing stress levels and remaining focused on the main goals behind your changes. Try to show your motivation and help the people around you stay motivated.

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