Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Preparing for Change

From The Art of Possibility:

"A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying, SITUATION HOPELESS STOP NO ONE WEARS SHOES. The other writes back triumphantly, GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY STOP THEY HAVE NO SHOES."

While change, constant, unceasing and plentiful, has gotten a lot of columnspace, specially in the context of technology implementations, most of the times recognizing the need for a change is not so straight-forward. When talking about large, lumbering organizations it is at least as difficult to identify and prepare for change, as it is to actually go ahead and change them. Having been closely involved in a CRM product implementation within my own organization, I will try and share what I think are the necessary ingredients (within Organization Leaders) to preparing for change.

The first has to be Vision, the ability to see into the mid- to long-term future and what the organization wants to do with it. That will dictate what assets have to be developed, how they will be utilized in the future that we are talking of, and hence, the competence needed to actually make that utilization. This is the most important step towards identifying and preparing for change. Once you have identified the end state objectively, it will be much easier to chart out a way to get there.

Secondly, breadth of perspective. If a small part in the bigger scheme of things is tweaked, changed, fine-tuned it is bound to affect other related parts. So, it is very important to realize how that small cog interacts with all the other cogs that make the organizational wheel go round. This also helps in identifying the related aspects to change, apart from the primary change we are driving towards, which might not directly help the organization in achieving the end state but can very well stall the march if not changed.

Third, and we will end the discussion for the time being with it, is the focus and courage to embrace short term pain for longer term benefits. While a lot of convincing is needed for people to buy into the change, there has to be total commitment to change from the top if the change has to succeed.

So in conclusion, for any organization wide change to succeed, well thought out, coordinated action preceded by a lot of reflection is needed, once it has been decided where the organization wants to go.

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