I remember it well. While in my cubicle at the headquarters of the document technology company I worked for, the news broke. The date was October 18, 1987 – the day many of us remember as “Black Monday”. Ironically, that same day as the stock market crashed hard, Tom Peter’s best seller Thriving on Chaos, hit the shelves of bookstores.
Thriving on Change
What Tom Peters wrote more than 30 years ago is truer today – amplified, on steroids and exponentially squared. Rapid change can produce chaos, or at least feel like it. Change has never been a more relevant topic.
When I was finishing up graduate school in the ’90s, one of our professors shocked us by announcing the amount of data was doubling every 18 months. Fast forward and an article in Computerworld predicts that between the end of 2014 and 2020 data will grow 50X. Now that’s change. As Tom Peters warned in his book, “If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.”
Recently I came across several thoughts about change in preparing to work with a client group. One of the standouts was, “Change is the heartbeat of growth” (Scottie Somers). Unarguably, one of my favorites is by Scott Stern, creator of the popular TV show, The Wonder Years, “Change is never easy. You fight to hold on. You fight to let go.”
How do we adjust to what may feel like chaos, when change is simply an inevitable part of positive progression and growth – as an individual and an organization?
Adjusting to Change
1- Provide clarity for everyone. Communicate completely and repeatedly. Change can breed confusion. Confusion craves answers.
2- Embrace diversity of thought around the change and how it should happen. To the extent possible, allow weigh in by the team on how the change should happen.
3- Strengthen your structure and ecosystem so it can withstand change. Make sure teams are properly aligned and the individuals are in the right functions and and roles to help weather the force of change.
4- Position and allow the change to create a competitive advantage for the organization and each team. Each team is like a mini organization, or its own enterprise remaining nimble and entrepreneurial, yet working collaboratively with the other mini-enterprises across the firm.
5- Make sure change is always a key part of strategy, so the team knows each change made is just another preview of coming attractions.
Think about a time you and your organization experienced a major change. At that moment, you were resistant. It was muddy and perhaps wildly uncomfortable.
Yet in retrospect, you now see the bigger picture value, and now on the other side, you wouldn’t have it any other way. It feels as natural as … your heartbeat.