When Change is Not a Choice

Have you ever been so busy managing the changes in your business that you have not had time to think about change management?

I have a feeling almost every one of you put up your hand and declared how perfectly that describes the past eight months of your business. There was an expression I learned early in my career that came from a video of how Southwest Airlines dramatically changed their business. The leader declared they were living in a time when “Just about the time you know where it’s at, the ‘at’ moves.” If there is anything true about our experiences through this pandemic, it is that the “at” has certainly moved, and moved again, and moved again.

The number of articles written on the new/next normal is overwhelming, even for a change expert! What is consistent about the themes though are these three things:

  1. Keep your people front and center. Understand there is a whole lot going on in their lives outside their work context.
  2. No one really knows. Each of us is responsible to triangulate our truths and make decisions in context of uncertainty.
  3. There is a time to every purpose. Many of us have had to be nimble and react to survive – better technology, new ways of working, new sources of revenue. And yet now is the time to be planful and thoughtful about the overall strategic impact of those decisions – what will we keep, what will we use and then set aside, and what has yet to be built.

As you are emerging from survival mode and the ambiguity of this time, I offer for your use this simple tool (click to open file to download).

The objective is to easily and quickly frame a discussion to capture your team learning through this journey. Based on your experiences, what have you have learned about your corporate Culture, how and when you Communicate, what has been valued by your Customers, and how have you been present in your Community? And now, as you transition to a more thoughtful and planful stage, what is that you would like to Stop Start and Continue based on that learning, and what are one or two key actions you can put in place to make sure that happens? Perhaps this can be printed to a large wall-sized poster with sticky notes handy to allow people flowing in and out of your lunch room to contribute as they think of things, or perhaps you will make use of a virtual collaboration tool like Mural to spark some discussion https://www.mural.co/ .

Unanticipated change is a challenge for any business, particularly when that change is inflicted by external causes that could never be anticipated. Business differentiation and sustainable competitive advantage can be built by the response to that change – and paving the way for new ideas, new customers and an increased confidence and resilience. As business owners and leaders you have a deep reserve of knowledge experience and talent to draw on. And of course, if any of the team at Osborne Interim Management can help you think through the “what now, what next”, we are honoured to support you.

Yvonne Thevenot

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