Is Your Business Ready for Change?
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” – W. Edwards Deming
“When you are through changing, you are through.” – Bruce Barton
There is no shortage of quotations and sayings meant to inspire people and organizations to embrace change. To suck it up and get on with what needs to be done; be it taking on some risk and going for an opportunity, shoring up a weakness or dealing with looming threat. For the most part corporate cultures these days are well past having to deal with challenges to change. It is well understood by most that standing still is not an option, that… resistance is futile.
The challenge then is how to ensure your organization is prepared for the change it wants to embark upon? The following is a checklist of questions to help you determine if your business is ready for a successful change and the implications of having “no” for an answer.
1. Do You Have a Strong Case for Change?
Is your need to change clear, compelling and easily understood? We have all been through initiatives driven by the latest fad or flavour of the month or by someone hobbying in areas they ought not to be in…. i.e. BOHICA. In order to avoid your team just going through the motions, the cause needs to be believed in and supported throughout the organization. This only occurs when the case for change is solid.
No? – You will have a low priority program on your hands.
2. Is There a Clear Shared Vision?
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll
Knowing exactly how you will get to where you need to be is not critical early on, but a clear view to where you are heading is essential. What does success look like? How will you win? An organization that has a common understanding of this is well on its way. Many folks are happy to simply be told what to do. Most though have a deep need to know the “why” and “where” of their efforts. They then will help make it happen. Do not underestimate the need for this vision to be shared widely. Communicate frequently, deal swiftly with diverging views.
No? – You will have a fast start that fades out in confusion.
3. Do You Have the Capacity and Capabilities to Take on the Change?
Just do it! How often does that work? The reality is that a new initiative will tax people. More work will be required of them; some work will need to stop. New skills may need to be developed. While this is easier to understand at the staff level, the question of capabilities at the organizational level can be trickier. Will you need new departments? Are there new functions previously contracted for that need to be brought in house? Do you need some short term expertise in certain areas? Often your issue here is not knowing what you don’t know. Obtaining guidance from people that have been through what you are planning to do will be of great value.
No? – Anxiety, frustration and mistakes.
4. Have Actionable First Steps Been Identified?
Your organization is clear on why it needs to change and where it is going. It has also put in place the resources required to enable what it needs to do. So, now what? The ball needs to get rolling; who moves first? This need not be overly complicated; just a few short term deliverables that people can cue on to move their particular task forward. Ideally, some early wins here will serve the program well. Simple project management techniques can be helpful at this stage.
No? – Chaotic processes and false starts.
Is that all there is? No. The hallmarks of change management need to be in place here on in: leadership, engagement, communication, stakeholder management, planning, monitoring, etc. However, if you were able to answer “yes” to all of the questions above, then you are indeed ready to proceed. That’s not to say it will be easy, but you have a solid basis upon which to move forward on.