Become An 'Architect of Change' By Richard Hadden
December 2005

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In this issue...
  • Featured Article - Become An 'Architect of Change'
  • Contented Cows Message Plays Well to SHRM Audiences
  • Buy the Book or CD at the Cow Store

  • Featured Article - Become An 'Architect of Change'

    By Richard Hadden

    While driving from my in-laws' home near Glasgow, Scotland, to their neighborhood supermarket, my attention was arrested by a large, bright red traffic sign that read, in bold white capital letters - CHANGED PRIORITIES AHEAD. Fortunately, my wife, a local, was able to translate the sign (priority = right of way) and help me through the altered traffic pattern of the construction zone at the next intersection.

    Sometimes I think that bright red sign should be posted at the entrance to most places of business today, as fair warning to customers, employees, and suppliers that important things are changing - indeed they always have - and as a reminder that those who embrace the change, and adapt, reap the benefits, and avoid the pitfalls, that change always promises.

    OK. Change is tough. Change is unfamiliar (that's why it's called "change"). But change is also a critical, vital, necessary part of the development of any healthy organization.

    As philosopher Herbert Spencer observed, "A living thing is distinguished from a dead thing by the multiplicity of the changes at any moment taking place in it." Any organization that is alive - such as yours, I presume - will be characterized by the vitality of change that keeps it moving toward its goals.

    And yet, as the writer James Baldwin said, "Most of us are about as eager to be changed as we were to be born, and go through our changes in a similar state of shock."

    Sometimes change is driven by customers, or the market - hard to argue with that kind of change. Sometimes it's driven by government regulations - impossible to argue with that. And sometimes it's driven by our own success. And that's the best kind of change.

    We all make choices about how we respond to change. And it is a choice. We choose from among these three options:

    1. Resist. Despite the fact that there are few examples throughout history of successful resistance to change, we're all tempted to think our resistance might be an exception. America won its independence, women got the vote, and mp3's will soon overtake CD's as the standard for car audio, despite formidable resistance to each of these progressions.
    2. Relent. In some cases, we grudgingly resign ourselves to the change, and trudge toward the new status quo, lacking the energy, will, or power to put up much of a fight. Parents often make this choice when they discover that their once-needy child has developed into a capable and independent young adult. I guess this is an example of change driven by our own success.
    3. Rethink. This is what members of organizations are called to do when presented with the challenge of change. When this works, and there are lots of examples of when it does, it is because people have chosen to become the "architects" of the change that is inevitable in dynamic entities. These people reason, "The change is coming. Now...what can I do to capitalize on it...to 'design' the change so that I, and the rest of us, become the beneficiaries of the change, not the victims of it?"

    What do Walgreen's, McDonald's, Continental Airlines, Dunkin Donuts, and Paul McCartney all have in common? All have nimbly and astutely redesigned - not reinvented - themselves to not only survive, but thrive in the midst of turbulent and unprecedented changes in their respective industries and markets.

    Walgreen's has appealed to customers who crave convenience, by pioneering drive-thru prescriptions, and developing technology that allows customers to pick up prescriptions at Walgreen's stores all over the country, not just the one where the prescription was first filled.

    McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts have expanded their menus drastically, each coming back from the brink in the face of low-fat and low-carb eating habits, and, in the case of Dunkin Donuts, to give Starbucks a run for its money.

    Continental Airlines, having gone broke twice, is one of the nation's only full-service airlines not currently in Chapter 11. They've done it by courageously facing the new realities of the post-9/11 airline business.

    And as for Sir Paul, his endurance is surpassed only by his adaptability - a quality that has made his star shine for more than 40 years as a member of two highly successful bands, a solo artist, performer, songwriter, businessperson, and now, knight.

    The corporations mentioned above are nothing more than a collection of people. What has distinguished these organizations from their less successful competitors is that, by and large, they have been populated by people who were willing to be "architects of change" - people who design their response to change to work in their collective favor.

    * They recognize that change means opportunity for some; problems for others. They choose to be on the "opportunity" side of the situation.
    * They don't wait to be shown the path. Once the destination is clear, they take responsibility to chart the path of change in the way that brings success.
    * Recognizing the challenges that come with change, they ask, "What can I control? What is beyond my control?" While others whine about how hard change is, these architects of change get busy controlling what they can. For that which is beyond their control, they ask, "What can I do to mitigate or lessen the impact of that challenge? And what can I do to capitalize on the change?"

    As you look out on the horizon, and see the natural and healthy change of your industry, your market, and your organization, follow this acronym, and make change work for you.

    Chart your path. How will you design your specific response to the change?
    Head confidently in the direction you've charted.
    Align your response with the organization's goals for successful change.
    Navigate carefully the uncertainties you encounter along the way.
    Generate creative ideas for capitalizing on the benefits of change.
    Evaluate the effectiveness of your response. Make necessary adjustments. Continue in the positive direction of change.

    As we approach the changing of the year, we'd like to express our heartfelt thanks to every person who subscribes to Fresh Milk; has encouraged others to do the same; has bought our books; our CD, and our downloadable articles, article collection, and white paper; hired us to speak for their group, consult with their organization, conduct an employee survey; or interacted with us in any way. We appreciate your business, your encouragement, and your interest in improving your organization's results by having a focused, fired-up, and capably led workforce.

    We wish you the very best in the coming year, and look forward to the opportunity to be of service to you.

    Contented Cows Message Plays Well to SHRM Audiences

    We speak at lots of conferences of professional associations - from the British Columbia Food and Beverage Conference, to the National Welding Supply Association, and everything in between.

    Over the last few years, we've been invited by more and more Human Resources Associations throughout North America to bring the message that Contented Cows Give Better Milk to their conferences. One or the other (or in some cases both) of us have spoken for the following HR groups, mostly at their annual conferences, or in some cases, a monthly meeting:
    *SHRM Minnesota State Conference
    *Ohio State HR Conference
    *Long Island SHRM
    *Northern California HR Association Annual Conference
    *Metro Phoenix HR Association
    *Wisconsin SHRM
    *Shenandoah Valley (Virginia) SHRM
    *Jamaica (West Indies) Assn for Training and Development
    *Dallas HR Association
    *Houston HR Association
    *Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky SHRM
    *HR Association of Central Ohio
    *HR Professionals Association of Ontario (Canada)
    *HR Tampa

    HR pro's seem to find our message helpful - and one that they can take back to their organizations to help make positive changes - to make their companies better, and more profitable, places to work.

    If you're a member of an HR Professionals association (or any association, for that matter), why not suggest to those who plan your annual state conference that they get in touch?

    To find out more about bringing in one or both of the authors to speak for your association conference, or corporate meeting, click on the "Find Out More" link below. OR, pick up the phone, and call our office at 800-940-7006 (that's 904-720-0870 from outside North America). Or, send us an email and let us know how we can be of service. We look forward to hearing from you.

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