In today’s business environment, change is inevitable. It’s all around us . . . new government regulations are thrust upon us, new competitors enter our market as old competitors leave, and new technologies make current technologies obsolete. Yet our instincts are to resist change. After all, we perform well doing things the way we do them now. We’re efficient and we’re successful using our current methods. If we change, our instincts tell us, we’ll have to go through a learning curve which will hurt our efficiency for awhile, and who knows? Maybe we won’t be as successful as we were before we enacted these changes. So do we resist the forces of change as long as we can, hoping to eke out every last benefit we can from our current way of doing business? Or do we see the changes coming at us as opportunities and embrace them, enacting them as fast as we can? For some perspective on this dilemma, please continue reading below.
“I do not believe you can do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow.” – Nelson Jackson
First, let’s be clear. When a significant change impacts your market, you can adapt to the change or you can go out of business. If you decide to continue along your merry way, ignore the change and hope it will go away, you will have selected the “going out of business” option. In certain situations, you may want to delay adapting your business to the new market dynamics, but don’t delude yourself into thinking, “This will all blow over and we can get back to business as usual.” Think of the Luddites who thought they could stop the Industrial Revolution. Think of IBM who brushed aside the PC as a toy that would never have any commercial value. Ignoring significant change didn’t work out too well for them, and it won’t for you either. Think of the Nelson Jackson quote above.
“Outstanding performance is inconsistent with fear of failure.” – Peter Drucker
Then let’s consider the above quote from management guru Peter Drucker. If we except that change is inevitable and that successfully adapting to that change is essential to the long-term health of our business, then we must also except that if our culture encourages fear of failure, our organization might be slow to respond to important changes.
Change does involve risk. It doesn’t matter if the change is thrust upon us or if we enter it voluntarily, it still involves risk. So if you want “outstanding performance” from your people as you try to manage change, they need to be confident of your support and focused on positive outcomes. If they are afraid of failure, they may be overly cautious and instead of playing to win, they may play not to lose which will allow a nimble, aggressive competitor an opening to win the game.
Change is inevitable, and the pace of change will continue to accelerate. But the good news is, change usually does provide opportunity to those who can spot it early, and to those teams who are confident in their abilities and who can fearlessly reach out and grab it.