||The paradox is that the more things change, the more things remain and that is how many organisations, nations and civilisations become trapped. This is due to their inability to respond to the need for transformational changes in turbulent times. This paradigm shift has caused many organisations, companies, nations and civilisation to
deteriorate and fall from grace. Many will struggle with how to deal with these pressures for changes. For organisation and nations to be successful, it is important that they not only know how to change but change the way they change.
Several decades ago, companies prefer predictability as they grow and manage their businesses. Shareholders in the organisations wanted little more than security, earning growth and profits. Management leaders in these organisations were able to deliver the results through little modifications to their businesses and operations, as many markets were either closed or underdeveloped. Today, with
open markets, labour mobility and instantaneous and ubiquitous communications - all these phenomena have blown that comfortable scenario to smithereens. Changes are taking place rapidly in the global and local environment which presents inept managers with an unfamiliar changing environment. So how do we change the way we change to survive and grow?
What is Change?
A simplistic model of change is explained below to illustrate how change can take place is by examining the three stages of change popularised by psychologist Kurt Lewin that are still the basis of many change management approaches today.
Unfreeze - A basic tendency of people is to seek a context in which they have relative safety and feel a sense of control. In establishing themselves, they attach their sense of identity to their environment. This creates a comfortable stasis from which any alternatives, even those which may offer significant benefit, will cause discomfort. Talking about the future thus is seldom enough to
move them from this `freeze' state and significant effort may be required to `unfreeze' them and get them moving.
Freeze - A key part of Lewin's model is the notion that change, is a journey rather than a simple step. This journey may not be that simple and the person may need to go through several stages of misunderstanding before they get to the other side. A classic trap in change is for the leaders to spend months on their own personal journeys and then expect everyone else to cross the change
chasm in a single bound. Freeze thus requires time. Although freezing may be hard for the individual, often it is the hardest part to start.
Refreeze - At the other end of the journey, the final goal is to `refreeze', putting down roots again and establishing the new place of stability. In practice, refreeze may be a slow process as transitions seldom stop cleanly, but go more in fits and starts with a long tail of bits and pieces. In modern organisations, this stage is often rather tentative as the next change may well be
around the next corner. The danger with this that many organisations have found is that people fall into a state of change shock, where they work at a low level of efficiency and effectiveness as they await the next change.
Hence, this continuous double loop "unfreeze, freeze and refreeze" cycle of incremental and radical changes will from now on be a constant feature. Management leaders will need to have the foresight to know when and how they must change, and the competence and agility to quickly initiate and implement the necessary change to survive, be resilient and relevant in these fast moving times.
Below are some management insights that you can consider to implement change in your organisation:
Management Insight #1: Change Must Begin From Within.
Management leaders must understand that change is inevitable and it must come from within. It is important to hear the voices of the customers and also those who serve these customers. Today, customers and employees are more demanding and aware to know what are the changes they want and need. Hence, changes must take into account these voices and management leaders need to heed these demands.
Change is a continuing process and not an `event' and so far there is no innovation or paradigm shift that has been successfully implemented overnight.
Management Insight #2: Know The Next Cycle of Change.
Management leaders often make the mistake of assuming that once a change is started, that employees will see that it is going to take place, and get on side. As change causes fear, it takes some time for employees to understand the meaning of the change and commit to the change. It is important to understand that people tend to go through stages in their attempts to cope with change. Knowing the
next cycle of change allows the preparation of the change mindsets.
Management Insight #3: Quick Fix or Change Paradigm May Not Be Appropriate.
Management leaders when changing the mindset must understand that certain quick fix may not be appropriate. Here is a case for your consideration, there is a water leak in one of the office ceiling and instead of fixing the leak the worker used a pail to contain the water from the leakage. The person used the simplest method to address the problem and not fix the cause of the leak. This is an
issue of the need to have an exacting and maintenance mindset and culture by fixing the root problem in the organisation.
Management Insight #4: Change of "Changer and Changee" Mindset.
It is important to understand that purposeful change initiatives and achievements need not necessarily come from those who are at the top of management. Today, workers and people at the frontline and shopfloor may be the people who knows best and are the real change evangelists. Look at Japan, Korea as examples where the Kaizen and quality culture has been driven by the workers at the shop floor
who are the "changees". They have made significant achievements in quality and productivity improvements when empowered and given the opportunity to make changes. Management as the organisational "changer" must not presume to have all the recipes or monopoly for change improvement and take all the credit.
Beware of the Burnt Toast Syndrome
Once a-upon a time, a father puts a slice of bread into an electric toaster to make a toast. The bread popped out of the toaster and turned out burned. The father scraped off the black soot from the bread. He then spread the jam over the burnt toast and handed it to his child. The child grows up to be a young man and make a burned toast. He scrapes off the soot and spreads the jam and ate it. The
question is "Is the toaster supposed to produce burnt toast? This is a classic story of the blindspot and resistance to change. Do you have many of these people, unnecessary processes or rituals in your own organisation which will hamper the efficiency and effectiveness of your operations? Hence, we need to have the foresight, be constantly vigilant and learn how to change the way we change if we
are to survive, be resilient and progressive in this very fast changing and discontinuous world.