How to manage change, compete and win
by: Colin Coulson-Thomas
When mismanaged change can be stressful and destructive. Few changes affect everyone in the same way. There may be obvious 'winners' and clear 'losers'.
|As situations evolve and circumtances alter some changes may seem both desirable and inevitable. However certain changes are more welcome than others, and some people are much better at managing them than their peers. Regardless of the ability to bring it about, directors and boards should tread warily as change can be disruptive and costly. It can distract people who should be focused upon other priorities.
When mismanaged change can be stressful and destructive. Few changes affect everyone in the same way. There may be obvious ‘winners’ and clear ‘losers’. Those who are satisfied – and they may include key employees and important customers - may favour the status quo, while the frustrated such as ambitious people who feel blocked may be eager for radical action.
Changes occurring all around us represent challenges and opportunities.
Boards should identify significant trends and developments, consider who are likely to be ‘gainers’ and ‘losers’ and assess whether alternative offerings would mitigate undesirable impacts and enable people to take fuller advantage of new possibilities. The people affected might represent a potential market for products and services tailored to their particular interests.
Some companies succeed in managing change, competing and winning. People accomplish their aims. Other businesses stagnate. People work hard, adopt fashionable approaches, use big name consultants … but they still fail. Why is this? What do winners do differently?
Despite the rhetoric about nimble, flexible and responsive organizations, the economic downturn caught many companies flatfooted. Why the gap between aspiration and achievement? What are the strugglers overlooking or doing wrong?
The experience of over 2,000 companies reveals why there is a wide gulf between intentions and outcomes. Frustration is the inevitable consequence of how many people set about activities such as winning business, building customer relationships, creating and exploiting know-how, and the management of change.
The Centre for Competitiveness has identified what needs to be done. The results are summarized in a new book: ‘Transforming the Company, Manage Change, Compete and Win’*.
The differences between winners and losers are stark. Both categories attract clever and highly paid people who play their respective roles to perfection. Lets look at some dos and don’t for becoming a winner:
Inspire and motivate with a distinctive vision, compelling purpose and clear objectives. Avoid rhetoric, blather and hype.
Be confident and determined, pragmatic and positive. Will to win. Strive for success rather than survival. Don’t rationalize disappointment. Learn from it.
Be proactive rather than reactive. Identify and approach those you would like to do business with. Don’t wait to be asked.
Be selective. Focus upon the areas that make a difference. Don’t spread yourself too thinly or bark up the wrong trees.
Only change what needs to be changed. Avoid change for changes sake – it can be stressful and disruptive of valued relationships.
Be interested in others rather than preoccupied with yourself. Don’t sell. Help people to buy.
Trust people and take calculated risks. Delegate. Encourage entrepreneurship. Don’t avoid commitments or fear the unknown. Innovate, explore and discover.
Think for yourself. Differentiate. Create bespoke offerings, additional choices and new markets. Avoid imitation, band-waggons and me-too approaches.
Be open. Value relationships and invite feedback. Question and challenge. Don’t duck issues. Become a business partner rather than commodity supplier.
Address specifics, adopt simple solutions and think before you act. Read the road ahead. Assemble what you will need to succeed. Avoid fads, panaceas and single solutions.
Choose colleagues with care. Surround yourself with pragmatic and competent contributors. Don’t be deceived by appearances. Avoid the slick and the smooth.
Don’t confuse operational and strategic issues, or your personal interests with those of the company. Build an effective board of competent directors.
Finally, go for it. Achieving success can be fun. However, don't be dismayed by obstacles. If you are endeavouring to bring about ambitious and fundamental changes you should expect to encounter setbacks. Persist. Be confident, determined, pragmatic and positive. Value constructive criticism and invite feedback. Don’t rationalize disappointment. Learn from it. Transformational change is often easier and usually more satisfying than managing and suffering the consequences of failure.
Colin Coulson-Thomas, Professor of Competitiveness at the University of
Luton has examined how over 2,000 organisations manage change. He can be contacted by Tel: +44 (0) 1733 361 149; Fax: +44 (0) 1733 361 459; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*‘Transforming the Company, Manage Change, Compete and Win’ by Colin
Coulson-Thomas is available from Kogan Page: Tel. 01903 828800; Fax. 020 7837 6348; E-mail: email@example.com or on-line at www.kogan-page.co.uk or www.ntwkfirm.com/bookshop.