Many abhor change, saying it’s too fast, or too uncomfortable. Wouldn’t it be easier if things just stayed the way they’ve always been? In Utopia, perhaps. But that’s not the way things work in the swiftly evolving world of business.
The change agent may be subtle, or possibly dramatic, but must always be respectful by explaining “why” before “how” and “what”. Circumstances and personality determine which approach will surface, but change will come either way. Those who prefer not to face the need for change may try to ignore the message, so they may find it convenient to blame the messenger. Surely they should not need to change anything since, after all, things have worked out fairly well up until now.
I recently suggested that what got you here, won’t take you there. A change agent embraces that reality and starts lobbying for changes before many realize it is even necessary. The former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, put it this way: “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” That’s a rather dramatic and humbling statement, but it holds great truth. By accepting this premise, the change agent is intent on making progress before conditions deteriorate.
Sometimes the change agent is blamed for being insensitive, unrealistic, or aggressive. Therefore, for the change agent to be effective, others must first hear the message and “buy in” to the need for change. The change agent can and must be both determined and exuberant. Qualified change agents bring a thoughtful approach to the process, but it doesn’t make it any easier for some to absorb. Rather than help facilitate worthwhile changes, some will choose to dismiss the message and believe it shouldn’t apply to them. Rigid thinking and a provincial approach are the enemies of change.
Each of us should seek to be a positive change agent within our realm of expertise. It’s how the art and science of business continue to advance. Openness to new ways of thinking and doing are the hallmarks of an exceptional business.