We know that we live in turbulent times. Change is now a constant theme in any organisation's planning, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. And while Charles Darwin didn't say that "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent... It is the one that is most adaptable to change", the non-quote gives us a great start to this post on our top tips for surviving through change!
Change is bandied about as a term all the time. What we mean by change is simply - just trying something different. This might be something big - like a new IT system, a new market or product idea - or something much smaller - like reviewing how you organise or manage one part of your business. Whether it's a major project built into your strategy or a regular process review, there are some common pitfalls that can easily be avoided. Here are our top tips - our three Ps - to keep you on the right track.
For any change - large or small - to be successful, there needs to be a clear and shared understanding of the reasons behind that change. And this can take some time to figure out. Before embarking on any change programme, it's worth spending as much time as you need to build a solid understanding of the issues and challenges, and to consider what proposals will best address them. Think about what will happen as a result of the change - what you will achieve - and why that is important. If you can't articulate the purpose of the change clearly, then no-one else will be able to understand.
Once you've clearly set out the purpose of the change - the why - you need to start looking at the when, what and how. Planning any change project is essential for knowing that the right actions are being delivered in the right ways at the right times. Plan for change as you would for any other project, by setting out what you'll do, when and by whom. Once you've developed your plan, and shared it with all the right people, keep track of how the project is progressing with regular reviews of the plans. Update timescales where necessary and don't be afraid to try different actions if the ones you outlined at the start aren't working.
Last, but most important, is people. Change can only be successful if the right people are involved. And that means the people at your organisation. Your staff are a huge resource - in knowledge and ideas - so involve them from the start. They'll help you to understand nuances of the challenges from different perspectives and can be a great source of ideas of different approaches to try. If they have a clear understanding of the purpose of the change, they're more likely to get involved and support the project. And without that support, your activities will be doomed from the start. There will always be some in the mindset of 'we've always done it this way' or 'we tried that 10 years ago and it didn't work'. Don't ignore them! Take time to listen to their concerns and, where possible, address them. Being open to what all your staff have to say and involving them in the conversation will put your change programme on the best footing.
There's no doubt that change programmes can be tough. But following our three Ps and focusing on your purpose, your plan and your people, will help. And while Darwin might not have claimed the survival of the changers, we know that openness to new approaches, resilience and adaptability are all key skills as we head into 2020.
If you need help on managing change in any part of your business, please get in touch. We'd be delighted to chat through options with you.