Better change

New ventures and even existing businesses are not immune to the powers of change. Change also happens when it is least expected and the interaction between changes definitely can lead to drastic and dramatic shifts in a business. So how do we become better at change? Is it possible to become a change master? How can entrepreneurs better utilise change to their advantage?

A business is often as good as the manager or leader in the organisation. This leadership theory extends further to say that the person is as good a leader as they are a person. So a good leader will be a good person and will run a good organisation. While the empirical evidence for the two-way relationship between goodness and leadership is not perfectly correlated there seems to a natural link between the sustainability of leadership and the inherent qualities of the leader. This forms the basis of integral management theory as proposed by Shewart and Deming (1939) and further developed by others in literature (Avilo, Galindo, Mendez, 2012; Walton, 1986) and it starts giving us some new ways to look at change.

It basically states that the leader needs to be an expert at managing change. This means both responding to change and also creating change.

Very few leaders that are worth their salt does not ask what they need to change to make the business work. But it is not always responding to change that is the challenge but also how to initiate and sustain it.

Organisations need to change constantly. It seems that we all want “out of the box” perfect businesses and that planning and constant backwards and forwards engineering of processes consume most businesses and entrepreneurs. What most businesses often ignore is the market forces that necessitate us to look at change differently. We cannot however manage every required change as the business grows – so the question becomes how we maintain our culture and perspective that made the initial business successful.

As the social and business environment is constantly evolving, new entrants are entering markets, consumer preferences change, trends come up and the very people that you employ also change. Each person also changes and this change has an effect on the world around that person. There is a constant ebb and flow between seeking growth and accelerated performance while balancing with the realities of people that are expected to deliver on this.

To become a change master one has to start asking what is the changes that if you make them today will have a meaningful and long term positive impact on the organisation and to actively work towards that. This change needs to be embodied in the organisational vision or dream and needs to re-inforced at every turn possible.

To make a change based approach to entrepreneurship work it requires a long hard look at the facts of the business and to act on these premises to build a conclusion that is in line with your vision. If you see that the facts that are in front of you will lead to a result that is different from you vision – you have to start asking – what needs to change?

Once you find the change that is required – arguably the rest of the process is much easier.

It may be tempting to look at change as something that is delivered by consultants. Change is not easily something that is bought for a fee, however it may be useful if dramatic and incisive change is required in an organisation to employ these change experts and it is often useful to have to someone around to blame if it does not work. However – we may have moved beyond a more structured approach to change management as proposed by Kotter (1995) and can say that purpose driven change management presents a new paradigm in which real and systemic change in organisations are facilitated through a clear understanding of the purpose of the business to its customers and the subsequent operations that are required to support this customer driven focus through the purpose of the internal stakeholder.

Linking the customer purpose to the purpose of the individuals in the organisations is a powerful approach to massive success. We all like working for companies that make us happy and that makes their customers happy.

To this effect many propose that the correct process is to

  • Dream;
  • Execute; and
  • Review.

This model assumes the following methodology:

  • The company started with a dream and goals that generally arise from the entrepreneur’s personal or business philosophy.
  • The entrepreneur’s business philosophy founded a group of policies that govern each of the strategic activities of the company, by a group of procedures for each of the links in the chain of success.
  • The entrepreneurship proceeds to design and to enforce the activities proposed by the policies designed.
  • The established procedures produce results that must be reviewed by a battery of diagnostics and must be compared with the original dream goals.
  • The review could imply, if difficulties in achieving the goals appear, the introduction of decisions to correct the situation, trying to obtain continuous improvement and the achievement of the dream goals.

The strength of the dream and the skills of the entrepreneur or their management to drive the correction towards the dream will determine the progressive realisation of the vision as outlined.

This approach to managing change is supported by an action learning methodology which is based on the premise that you

  • Learn;
  • Correct;
  • Redefine; and
  • Execute.

The principles underlying action learning are:

  • learn from personal experience and from the experience of others;
  • consider the challenges posed by other entrepreneurships and listen to the suggestions of others;
  • listen carefully to others in an environment with no prejudice;
  • develop several possible courses of action that facilitate the entrepreneurships to develop their business and problem solve; and
  • review the results of actions, taking into account the opinion of other members of the group and share the lessons learned.

We have to decide what to change today to make the business move closer to a dream and a future reality that is desirable to our customers and other stakeholders. We have to be decisive about these actions and execute on the changes – making sure that they are anchored in the organisation and that they continue to contribute to the on-going success of the organisation. We also need to let go of our fear to change things.

To really get better and to stop our business from getting stuck into a pattern that makes it resistant to change – we have to be open and inviting to change and also be the creators and masters of change or else things will change around us and we will be the victim of change.

Conclusion

Change is real. We have a choice to determine if we will change the world or if the world will change us. This choice is made by the millions of little actions that we do everyday to move closer to our dreams. If we start ignoring the sense that we are moving further away from where we want to be – then we are being led by change. To get back to our true purpose, dream and vision we have to make decisive steps to learn from the environment and share and grow with others to bring us closer to that vision. This is the call – you better change and you have to be better at change.

Kotter, J.P. (1995) Why Transformation Efforts Fail, Harvard Business Review, Mar 1995.

 

Shewhart, W.A. and Deming, W.E. (1939), Statistical Method from the Viewpoint of Quality Control, The Graduate School, The Department of Agriculture.

Edgar Muñiz Avila, Miguel-Ángel Galindo, María Teresa Mendez, (2012) “SERCREA+ model: a business tool for change management in Mexican organizations”, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 25 Iss: 5, pp.736 – 747

Walton, M. (1986), The Deming Management Method, The Putnam Publishing Group, New York, NY.