Fred Smith, the man who founded Federal Express in 1971, is a classic example of someone who built a successful company by being responsive to changes in customers’ expectations and in the business environment. FedEx originally started as an idea in a term paper that Smith wrote for an economics class in 1965, while he was still an undergraduate at Yale University. His premise: as productivity increases with the use of machinery, breakdowns in equipment can easily destroy any efficiency and profitability. Therefore, a system needs to be developed to ensure that organizations have rapid access to spare parts and materials as they are needed. With this as a starting point, in 1973, Smith created the now-famous hub-and-spoke-system with his “hub” in Memphis, Tennessee. Success followed, but the world began to shift more towards a knowledge-based economy. Read the rest of this entry »
Earlier this week, I blogged about how change is the only constant in today’s business world, and I offered you two specific ideas to bring people on board when they resist change. Here are three more.
- Proactively address the objections. Every change effort has its disadvantages and your opponents will be sure to put them on parade. Pre-empt them by anticipating and acknowledging their doubts, and then respond to their concerns with your own compelling argument AND offer solutions that will at least attempt to mitigate their fears and worries.
- Find ways to build momentum. Just as there is always a fraction of those who oppose change, there is also a small group of people who are the front-line change adopters. You can recognize these folks right away – these are the ones who jump up and say “Let me at them!” Use these people to build momentum. You don’t have to carry the entire load of the change effort on your shoulders; let these people help you spread the good word.
- Be a broken record. Stay on message, repeat your compelling arguments, persist with those who are against the change. Don’t let your nay-sayers off the hook, particularly if they are your staff members; hold them accountable to achieving the department’s or organization’s goals.
Any change effort will come up against dissenters. It’s up to you to find a way to break through the opposition and bring the cynics and resisters on board. These five ideas (three today and two from Monday April 22) are guaranteed to help. What other ideas do you have?
Nothing endures but change
– from Lives of the Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius
Laertius may have penned these famous words circa 3rd century, but they are just as true today as they were eighteen centuries ago. If you’re a manager or supervisor in an organization, then you know that one of your primary responsibilities (and one of your challenges) is implementing change. Whether it’s revising work processes to fit today’s environment, learning about new technologies that impact your business, or simply implementing a new version of existing software, not only is change all around you, but the rate of change is growing exponentially. And unfortunately, any change effort will come up against a small fraction of people who will resist it. Change is inevitable, but unless you actively manage the opposition, your change effort can lose momentum and fall off the rails. So what can you do to deliberately and purposefully bring your resistors on board? I’ll give you two specific ideas today, and later this week, I’ll give you three more.
- Give people the “big picture”. One of employees’ biggest frustrations about change is that sometimes it feels like it’s done just for the sake of doing something in the short-term, and not necessarily with an overall long-term objective in mind. When that happens, people view the change simply as an inconvenience to them as individuals. Instead, take the time to show people that what they view as a hassle is actually beneficial some place else, and to the organization as a whole. Tie the change to an overall advantage. Which leads me right into the second strategy.
- Give factual information. Offer evidence that shows that the change is valuable for the company. If you have hard data, share it. If there are other individuals who have gone through similar change efforts, hold them up as examples of success.
Check in on Thursday and I’ll offer you three more specific suggestions for how you can get your people to stop fighting change and perhaps even help you implement it! In the meantime, do you have any suggestions?
As this bulldozer of change rolls over our planet, we have a choice: to become part of the bulldozer, or part of the road.
– Frank Ogden in The Last Book You’ll Ever Read
Futurist Frank Ogden penned these words in 1993. Today, seventeen years later, this bulldozer is bigger and faster than ever, as the pace of change in workplaces and homes across the country increases exponentially. Consider this example: it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users, television 13 years, the Internet four years, and the iPod three years. In contrast, in just a nine month period, Facebook added 100 million users, and downloads of iPhone applications reached one billion. Or ponder this. Today, the amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years. Translation: for students starting a 4-year technical degree, half of what they learn in the first year of study will be outdated by the third year of study. Bottom line: it doesn’t matter what aspect of your professional and personal life you consider, the pace of change is increasing exponentially.
If you work in an organization, does it irritate the heck out of you when new versions of software are released and you still haven’t figured out how to use the earlier version? If you’re a supervisor or team leader, does it drive you crazy to see your younger staff texting each other constantly? If you’re in front-line customer service, does it annoy you when clients keep expecting more for less? You have two alternatives to approach these realities. You can hope that they are passing fads and that sooner or later, everyone will come to their senses and these frustrations will go away. In the meantime, you’ll just stay out of the bulldozer’s way (and hope you don’t get run over). OR … you can take action to try and influence the bulldozer’s direction. This option starts with a change in your attitude. Ask questions, request to be involved, and offer your assistance – become part of the solution by becoming a positive force for change. As Ogden said, you have a choice – to become part of the bulldozer, or part of the road. Which one will you choose?