How to Navigate Change

How to Navigate Change

Do individuals and organizations grow in spite of change or on account of it? Is change required? How much? How often? How do we manage change? And sustain it?

These and other related thoughts often cross the mind of leaders, organization heads, business owners, entrepreneurs, especially as we look back at the year gone by and look forward to the one coming up.

How do we understand “change” better? What does change management involve?

Change is encountered due to shifts in

  • Government policies – e.g., demonetization, GST etc.
  • Customer requirements / competitive landscape – choices, product and service offerings, pricing – differentiate to stay relevant.
  • Leadership alignment / expectations on team or organization focus areas.
  • People or team management processes – to retain, motivate and reward performance.
  • Business processes – to optimize functional interlinkages and avoid breakdowns, delays.
  • Technology and communication tools, enablers – to enhance productivity, effectiveness and reach.

The purpose of change management is to implement strategies and approaches for effecting change, controlling change and helping individuals, teams and organizations adapt to change. This is to avoid typical behaviours of avoiding change or playing victim on account of it.

Here are some pointers to help navigate change:

  1. Communicate the threat of not changing and the need to keep moving – standing still and not reacting could have an adverse impact. Establish the urgent need to change.
  2. Where possible, involve the team in decision-making – make it participative.
  3. Define the vision, path ahead, next steps – minimize uncertainty and ambiguity.
  4. Address the WIIFM (what’s in-it-for-me) for key constituents, stakeholders.
  5. Identify risks and worst-case scenarios to firm up possible action plans, key influencers to drive the change and timelines. Make it a process!
  6. Transparency is key – keep explaining why the change is happening – information vacuum causes misunderstanding, trust deficits and stress.
  7. Celebrate small successes, as you adopt a crawl-walk-run approach.
  8. Institutionalize to sustain. Monitor. Govern.

In todays’ flat VUCA world, the rate of change is oftentimes more dynamic than we can anticipate.  All people, teams and organizations need to seek expert help and advice for this – after all, none of us are superheroes nor are we omniscient!

Let us accept that change is a reality and needs constant attention and management!