The HOW to Guiding Change Successfully
Change is Natural and Inevitable
When I started doing my leadership training out in nature years ago with John P. Milton, the first thing I learned was that all forms– whether material, energetic, perceptual, emotional, or of thought — are interconnected and dependent on each other. This seems obvious to me now, but at the time, I hadn’t thought much about it. I also learned that all these forms are constantly in flux, changing and transforming into new combinations better suited to serve the continuously shifting needs around us. That is the way of nature. When we are looking toward guiding change — whether in our own lives or in our companies — we can speed up the process and perhaps make it easier by first accepting that change is our constant companion, and then looking to our interdependence that translates into our need for collaboration when looking for new solutions.
Evolving our Business Models
Some of the most innovative and successful entrepreneurs and companies today have cultivated the ability to rapidly and continuously reinvent themselves as they respond to the constant change of the external influences and the needs of their users. They have experimented with linking complexity theory and time-paced evolution to the way they develop new products and services. This is not only their core competence, but also the heart of their cultures. They are leaving behind the grand illusion of the limiting equilibrium model promoted by Milton Freedman, who perpetuated the notion that the only goal of business is to bring value to shareholders. The new way is to bring value to all the stakeholders and honoring the nature of our interdependence needing to co-create win-win solutions for everyone, in order to keep our sustainability.
Economists are having to unlearn the Freedman’s dogma as well and replace it with newer theories such as the “complexity economics” (as previously mentioned), “chaos theory”, and “behavioral economics,” that are moving us toward circular economy.
Focus on Wholeness for Our People, Planet, Profit
It is hard not to be aware of the faster and more relentless changes in the world around us that require our constant adaptability and flexibility. As humans, we have to figure out how to live, lead, and work together peacefully as the largest population in the planet’s history. As we are all leaders, we have to learn to adapt and guide the change if we are to solve our increasingly pressing problems. We have to use our imagination and creativity to come up with innovative and sustainable solutions that can be scaled for the greatest, most positive impact, so we can all thrive. We need to focus on wholeness for our people, for our planet, and for our profits. It all goes hand in hand.
HOW do we do this?
As Einstein said,“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we had when we created them.” Radical change is required. The status quo, which is caused by our addiction to comfort and incremental improvements are not producing the results we need. No wonder The Center for Creative Leadership, in their recent white paper, “The Challenges Leaders Face Around the World: More Similar than Different,” said that one of the six top challenges leaders face today is guiding change.
How Leaders take Ownership
Einstein said it. What leaders need in order to guide change successfully is to raise the bar to a higher degree of consciousness. This means to be willing to get out of their comfort zones and committing to learning and growing. They must be willing to take ownership of thinking and leading differently, expanding their mindsets and world-views, and changing their behavior and habits. They must also be willing to let go of resistance and outdated norms, and to usher in the new paradigm shifts. The need and desire is to create a different outcome, and the only way to get there is to follow a different road map.
More on the HOW
Even though some companies have already successfully embodied this new trend, many more companies and their leaders are struggling. They might be starting to understand WHY the need for change is so imperative for their companies’ success at this time, but the HOW still eludes them. Dov Seidman, who has dedicated his life to studying how people conduct their businesses and their lives, impressed and inspired me with his knowledge and wisdom on this topic, which he shared at the Conscious Capitalism 2014 conference in San Diego last April. My take-away from Dev was that the “How” is not a question. The “How” is the answer. He also stressed that we are all interconnected (here is comes again) and that we are entering into a new era where behavior matters more than ever. His book, How: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything, is a great resource for these new leadership models that are emerging.
Still More on the HOW
Last month, I attended a program in Los Angeles presented by Mark Samuel, the founder and CEO of IMPAQ Corporation called “Leading Urgent Business Transformation”. For the last thirty years, Mark has been studying how to change business culture successfully through working with leaders, teams, and organization worldwide. He has seen many promising and well-intended culture change initiatives fail the test of time. He made it his mission to come up with a methodology that delivers rapid and sustainable results through focusing not only on personal and team accountability, but also on cross-functional accountability for execution. Here we have nature’s wisdom yet again regarding the interdependence.
I found Mark’s approach to guiding change to be different, practical, and provocative. He says that in today’s business climate, we don’t have time for gradual culture change based on core values. That takes too long. We need to be radical and to move fast, from present–state–A to a higher–state–B in the form of transformation, and bypass A+ or slight improvement. To Mark, changing a culture successfully is not about a lengthy assessment process, buy-in, or developing yet more skills, like team building, conflict resolution training, role-playing or courageous conversation… only to unconsciously staying stuck in the same old habits. And it is not about the values that end up in a folder or sitting on the wall as a forgotten plaque. For him, accomplishing the desired business outcome is all about changing the culture by changing the behavior and habits of execution. Here we have Dev’s urgent focus on behavior. When business results are optimized, that is automatically reflected in core values and relationships. The culture and the values are a direct reflection of the behavior and become more of a conscious culture as the higher level of State B is reached.
Here are Mark’s fundamentals for change:
The three zones of change:
- Creating an environment that is safe for change
- Moving out of the comfort zone
- Overcoming the “Wall of fear”
And here are 3 BIG IDEAS that Mark and his team consistently use to rally people behind a change, to produce breakthrough and measurable results that last:
- Reinforce a compelling picture of success rather than creating another strategic plan
- Go for involvement,not buy-in
- Transform functional managers into a unified team of business owners.
Where are You and Your Team at?
Knowing that change is our constant companion– within and without — it definitely pays to open up to new ideas, to stalking and changing our behavior, and forming new habits. What behavior and habits do you, your team, or company need to change to get to where you need to go?
Image: Courtesy of IMPAQ