The Strategist

New normal: Navigating your company through changes

05/02/2022 - 03:36

Change is scary. How do you make plans? How do you manage a company? How do you act quickly and efficiently?

Felix Burton
Felix Burton
Expecting things to settle down in a year or two means ignoring the obvious: change is the new normal. We need to adapt not from time to time, but constantly.

Change activates people's survival channel, a signaling system that looks for and reacts to threats. It's useful if it's activated from time to time. But if it is constantly ringing, we feel agitated, we fall into apathy. It happens to people and to entire companies.

But there is another system, the prosperity channel. This "radar" seeks out opportunities instead of threats. Activation of the prosperity channel is accompanied by passion and excitement. The field of vision increases, we feel curiosity and want to act.

We need both systems, but when the world changes, the survival channel takes all the resources. The challenge is to keep it from overheating and activate the prosperity channel. In ourselves and those around us.

In most organizations, plans are implemented in cascades: from top to bottom. Only a group of top managers sees an inspiring picture of the future. The rest feel the fear of the unknown. Their channel of prosperity is shut off. So, change either comes too slowly or fades away altogether.

To change successfully, you need a large group of passionate people, sharp minds, attentive eyes, and active "radars" looking for opportunities. This could be employees representing all departments of the company.

This approach is called leader-centric: each employee, regardless of position, can inspire and guide others. Everyone can be a change agent.

If the prosperity channel is not active enough, think more often about perspectives that are exciting, realistic and important to you personally. It's also worth talking about with your colleagues. Discuss opportunities, not problems.

What are the challenges the organization is facing? What can it achieve if it innovates and acts differently? What needs of customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, or the community are not being met and what will you gain by meeting them?

Organize a flow of opportunity messages within the company. They touch hearts, not just minds, and people get involved because they want it, not just because they have to.

Find employees willing to take action. Instead of convincing pessimists, start at the point where the energy is already there and let it build up. Encourage leadership action from anyone - even employees who haven't been in good standing before.

Based on ‘Change: How Organizations Achieve Hard-to-Imagine Results in Uncertain and Volatile Times’ by John Kotter

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