Realizing a compelling vision often means change, accepting new perspectives, and abandoning old habits and techniques. Many times the necessary changes require doing things differently. Lofty aspirations may involve outsourcing, merging, building strategic alliances, partnering, or acquiring other resources or organizations. It could mean selling off pieces of existing business that no longer fit strategically. It could involve restructuring your organization. What does it mean to you? There are tremendous risks in maintaining the status quo and doing it because "we have always done it that way." It means that there is no longer validity in the expression, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it." The operative phrase today is, "How can we make it better?"
As Margaret Wheatly observed, "I believe that we have only just begun the process of inventing the new organizational forms that will inhabit the 21st century. To be responsible inventors and discoverers, we need the courage to let go of the old world, to relinquish most of what we have cherished, and to abandon our interpretations about what does and doesn't work. We must learn to see the world anew."
It is important to erase boundaries between different parts of the organization so that processes, production, and communication flow seamlessly and swiftly. People who are involved in the processes should also be involved in examining how they and the organization can get better and quicker. Improving quality and speed while reducing cost and complexities can create a significant competitive advantage. The objective is to eliminate as many non-value-added, time consuming steps in a process as possible through simplification, elimination, and concurrence. People must be focused on taking the frills out of core business processes in order to focus on the results rather than activities. "Most companies squander 10 to 20 percent of revenue in support of wasteful products or procedures ... at Kodak, waste drained an estimated 1.6 billion to 3.2 billion ... sharpen their pencils. Cut costs and shorten organizational cycles in everything." ~ George Fisher, former Chairman and CEO of Eastman Kodak.
This process will quicken responsiveness, show major improvement to the bottom line, and it can be done fast. Competition leaves little choice. An organization must continuously do things better and faster or it will die. If you do the things that you've always done and expect different results, you are engaging in institutional insanity. If you want different results, you must do things differently, or you must do different things.
Far too many people make the mistake of believing that you just have to work harder. Remember the first rule of holes: "When you are in one-quit digging." Sometimes success requires doing things in a dramatically different way or making radical changes.
There may be people who will resist change because it is different or new. Resistance to change is a common and universal malady. Therefore, understanding some of the barriers to change may help in creating and implementing successful growth strategies. Some common barriers to change and innovation are:
- Lack of data makes decision making difficult
- Personal goals conflict with professional goals
- Management behavior discourages implementation
- Employees don't understand or really want to make the change
- Poor communication of vision, values, and mission
- Recognition and appraisals are inconsistent with attaining goals
- Unwillingness to develop new goals
- Lack of process or structure
Addressing resistance to change becomes a major focus and an integral part of a unified implementation strategy.
Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC has specialized in business and management consulting, strategic planning, leadership development, executive coaching and youth leadership.