7 Reasons Why You Should Stop Trying To Manage Change
Change is something that is not controllable. To call the process of change change management implies that it can be controlled, that all you need is a sound strategy and a plan to create change. It creates the illusion that managers can come up with that plan and then everything will be changed according to plan. My experience with change is different. Here are some of the lessons I learned from various change processes…
1. Big words don’t change things.
Artificially created senses of urgency in powerpoint decks don’t change things. Stop pretending they do. Big words will come up during changes. Accept that most of them will be bullshit. You’ll laugh at them later and see that change came from somewhere else. Don’t be afraid to use big words that turn out to be stupid. It’s all part of the change process. Once you are past Mount Stupid, things will get better :)
2. Don’t get too attached to your change goal
Okay. It’s a good idea to have a plan, a big idea. But don’t get too attached to it. Co-create it if you can. Not all goals live to be achieved. A lot of ideas are stupid, even big ideas. Live with it. See it more a like sense of direction. Once you start the journey, the goal can change. It’s not about the goal. It’s about the process that the goal inspires. Don’t beat yourself up for not having a good goal before you start the journey. A goal is a means, not an end. A goal inspires the first steps. Once the first steps are taken, progressive insight can render your initial goal obsolete. No problem. Create a new goal. Use what you learn underway. That is the whole idea. Change requires learning. Every step of the way. Throw away your goals that don’t work anymore.
“A goal is a means, not an end.”
3. A crisis is a gift in a change process
Crises change things. Real crises. Pain. Suffering. Fear. People don’t abandon habits for no good reason. People don’t want to be changed. A good crisis changes all that. Never waste a good crisis. Leverage it. If you are lucky, you run into a crisis. Once you are on a journey of change, crises become gifts. Crises force people to do things differently than they did before. It forces them to reflect and see the downsides of the old ways. If you are lucky, the old ways don’t work anymore and people see that. Leverage that. Find new ways together and then hope they stick.
“Never waste a good crisis.” — Winston Churchill
Crises shake out the dead wood. Get rid of the dead branches and grow new ones. Growing, changing is as much about learning as it is about unlearning.
4. Change comes from good ideas that work
Somebody comes up with an idea that works, that makes things better. People see that it works and adopt the idea. These ideas can come from anywhere in the organization. Try to see those. It has to be the right idea at the right time. Some ideas are ahead of their time. Try to let others see why they are so good. Not everybody sees the quality of new ideas. Convincing is pretty much useless. If people don’t already get it, you cannot convince them. Maybe the time is not right. Wait and try again. Show people that it works.
Once you start to do things differently, people will come up with ideas. Run with them, give them a try, give them a podium. People are creative. It’s not the job of the manager to come up with all the good ideas. You don’t have to follow the book. Not all good ideas from other companies work in your company. Some ideas stick and others don’t. Don’t worry about that. Steal ideas. Listen to ideas of people. Invite them to share their ideas. Nobody knows what will work or not. Fail and learn. Good ideas create excitement because they feel good.
5. Not everybody will be on board from the get go
Not everybody will be enthusiastic, accept that. People fall into different categories from early adaptors to laggards. All have their role to play. Criticism and waiting to see is as important as the willingness to try out new things.
6. Just do it
It’s important to start the journey, to start walking in a direction. Even if it’s the wrong direction. Change direction. Who cares? Admit defeat. Be honest. Be open. Talk about it. Share ideas, concepts, experiences, learnings. Don’t try to force things that don’t work or do not fit. Don’t be afraid to try to force things anyway but stop when it clearly doesn’t work. Stick your neck out. Have your head chopped off and grow an new one. Tomorrow is another day.
7. Things will change regardless
Change is not a goal. Things will change anyway, whether you want to or not. You will need to learn to survive. Adapting to change, responding to change is about learning. Lessons can come from everywhere. Be open. If you change faster than others, if you adapt faster to the changes, you will have a competitive advantage. If you change too slow, you will become irrelevant before your time. You can study the future to see what changes are coming. Innovation is getting to the future first. Innovation is picking the future we find desirable and hoping that will be it.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” — Alan Watts
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, don’t forget to hit the clap button so I know I connected with you. Let me know what you think in the comments. I will dive deeper into the topics of Design Leadership in upcoming articles. If you follow me here on Medium, you will see them pop up on your Medium homepage. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn to see new articles in your timeline or talk to my bot at dennishambeukers.com :) You can also find me on Instagram.