By Michael D’Antonio
You don’t lead change. You lead in a way that allows, enables and makes room for change to happen. This is fundamental. And it has to be an “always on” model. In other words, you cannot decide to change or wake up one morning and decide to initiate change one day. Ever worse, you cannot make that decision out of desperation or fear. By then it is too late. You must tune and organize your organization to be in state of perpetual beta – to always be changing – to be breaking things that aren’t broken in order to move from now to next.
This sounds simple – and it it – but it is far from easy. Being in a constant state of change means investing in tests that are, more often than not, bound to fail. It means throwing good money after bad sometimes, cardinal sin for businesses that came of age pre-2000. It also means hiring breakers and risk takers instead of responsible stewards of your brand. This is not to say that you need to be reckless or irresponsible. It does mean that you have to test and replace, and be okay with positive failure. For example, Apple invested heavily in project Titan – a driverless car. But you will never see an Apple car on the road. What you will see are driverless cars that will be using the driverless platform developed by Apple. Positive failure. No Apple car but a new B2B revenue stream and a way to retain and recruit technologists and designers who are less than inspired about working on incremental changes to an established product like the iPhone 7.
here are a few enemies of change management. They are the 3 deadly sins: Pride, Lethargy and Lust. Many organizations are too proud to accept change. They were once proud brands that decided to throw stones at the young whippersnappers nipping at their heels. They woke up one day and realized the world has changed. And they haven’t.
Lethargy is another enemy of change. Change is exhausting. A caterpillar must hibernate for weeks before it transitions into a butterfly because it takes a tremendous amount of energy to transform. This is true in nature and in business. Some organizations simply to not have the energy, stamina and conviction to commit to perpetual change. So they stick to what they know as long as they can, often riding out an ever-descending sales curve until they disappear with a whimper.
Finally, lust is a change killer. If an organization spends its time and energy concerned with – and lusting after – what other companies are doing – they are (by definition) not changing, evolving or doing their own thing. There is no recipe for change. No one way, or right way, to do it. It is an individual, heuristic slog of trial and error. Something you have to own all on your own.
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