Change to Grow

We all want to grow...

To do so we have to change...

But change is not easy!

Growth. Everyone and every organisation wants to grow. It can be measured in many ways – sales, capability, efficiency – but the essence is the same, achieving more. What’s fascinating is how many people believe they can achieve their aims and objectives simply by keeping going. They’re convinced that if they struggle on, doing the same things, eventually it will come right and growth will be achieved.

Unfortunately, this is the path to disappointment. If a set of actions do not produce the desired result, repeating them is not going to produce a better outcome. At some level, you need to change your approach. It could be a minor change that creates clarity about the value your services deliver to customers or the opportunities available to employees. But it might be bigger than that. New competitors, new market conditions and working practices combine to create an environment in which change is inevitable. Especially as expectations from stakeholders, internal and external, remain undiminished. We all like to believe that we embrace change willingly, but once again the reality is not always so; even with the best of intensions, change is not easy.

Of course, change itself is not the issue. What makes the difference is the way we each choose to face the new reality. Organisations stumble and fall for many reasons, often self-inflicted. I’ve seen them all ranging from a lack of clarity around strategy, not listening to customers and poor engagement with staff to not having even a basic business plan in place.

History is littered with companies that didn’t notice the signs and failed to change. The result was that when change happened, it was dramatic and ruthless. Think Carillion. Think Byron. It can be very challenging to face the hard reality of a situation and take responsibility for starting to address it. Whilst I’m surprised at the barriers people put up, I’m also amazed by the way the same people can change. When the penny drops, they become the catalyst for significant changes that can radically improve the way a team works, a company communicates to its employees or manages customer relationships. It’s almost as if once the door is opened, anything is possible.

First, acceptance. Set aside an hour to take a fresh look at the figures and the feedback you’re receiving from customers and colleagues. Challenge your assumptions that the ‘way we do things is the way they should be done’.

Second, discovery. Break down what’s not working into small steps. Look at each in turn and review how it could be done differently. Ask colleagues from different functions to provide an alternate perspective.

Third, action. Write out a short-term plan of changes. Action, review, refine. Most importantly, start...

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