The Change Factor - The business catalyst
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Archive for August, 2012

You’ve got to start somewhere

Sometimes you get to work with a group of managers who really want to make changes to their culture and at the same time acutely aware of all the deficiencies around them that could limit the success of the change.

It’s an interesting challenge. I’m the first one to say ‘don’t put your toe in the pond unless you are ready for the ripple’ and yet I also know that if you wait for everything to be perfect then the change will be too late and the world will have moved without you.

So how do you balance the two ends of the readiness dilemma?

The first thing is to be aware of the limitations that you have around you. Ignore nothing. Face the facts. If a support system is not there, it’s not there. If capability is missing then it’s missing. If you have limitations in IT, it’s a limitation to be faced.
Consider this as the building of your culture change risk list. Then, do as you would with any risk list and work through how big an impact, and how you would mitigate against it.

Take communication systems for example. We live in a world of technology, where intranets abound, networking portals connect people within business, you can vote on ideas and share thoughts rapidly. But not everyone has this. So will your change fail without it? Well change will certainly fail without comms, but will it survive the lack of comms technology? Just remember when you answer, that some of us started managing change when we just had pens and paper, and we made change happen. So is it a risk to have no technology in your comms loop? No, it’s a pain, and it makes things harder sometimes, but in and of itself it’s not a risk, because you mitigate with more face to face comms and believe me face to face improves change far more than an intranet.
So the lesson here is to understand the difference between risk and inconvenience and work out how you will handle it.

And the second thing in the balance is desire and commitment. If you don’t have a system, but you have desire and commitment then you will overcome the issue that the lack of system presents. If you have a system but low desire and commitment then, nobody will use the system anyway. Lots of people prepared to do a few extra things because they believe it will make a difference will always make change happen. Desire and commitment needs to be the long haul version though, not the one minute wonder. Gauge the depth of commitment and the strength of the desire and see if there is enough to hang in for 18 months of continued effort in the face of setback and issue.

When you bring the two together you can face off your deficiencies against your desire and then you will know if it’s right to put your toe in the pond that is your culture and set a ripple off.