"Change is the only constant in life." -Heraclitus
It wasn't long ago that stability was the order of the day for most large companies. Predictable earnings growth and modest changes to the strategic plan were the goals. The pace of business today no longer allows that luxury, and if your business isn't growing and constantly moving to anticipate or adapt to the rapidly changing new order, you're already behind.
We recently rebranded our company, and that's a huge change that affected every employee and every customer and vendor, and everything we do.
How do you manage a change like this in an organization that's constantly moving? I've heard the analogy that it's like trying to change a tire on a moving car. It doesn't have to be that way.
In their article 10 Principles of Leading Change Management for strategy+business magazine, authors Deanne Aguirre and Micah Alpern identify three major hurdles to overcome in order to implement effective change. The rebrand process required that we conquer these three hurdles in order to manage a change that would successfully lead us to our vision:
- The first is "change fatigue," the exhaustion that sets in when people feel pressured to make too many transitions at once, or change is poorly thought out, rolled out too fast, or put in place without sufficient preparation. The rebranding effort that led to Curvature began over two years ago. It's been meticulously planned, prepared for, and—most importantly—communicated to the group at every step in the process, and that's paved the way for an easy transition to the Curvature way of doing things.
- Change also flounders because companies lack the skills to sustain the change over time. When leaders start change but haven't properly planned or trained to keep it going, the whole effort fizzles. Our name change to Curvature put the final touch on a change process that began years ago, when we foresaw fundamental changes to the business landscape and created industry-leading processes to meet the challenges ahead.
- The final obstacle is that change efforts are typically decided upon, planned, and implemented in the C-suite, with little input from the rest of the organization. This filters out information that is helpful in designing the initiative, and limits opportunities to get front-line ownership of the change. We made a significant effort to engage and educate a broad range of stakeholders early on in the rebranding effort, and incorporating their valuable feedback has fostered a universal sense of ownership of the Curvature brand and what it stands for.
Most leaders considering a major change initiative know that people matter. But it can be all too tempting to focus on the plans and processes, which don't talk back and don't respond emotionally, rather than face up to the more difficult and more critical human issues. Mastering the "soft" side of change management shouldn’t be a mystery, and it pays huge dividends.
Aguirre, D., & Alpern, M. (2014, June 6). 10 Principles of Leading Change Management. strategy+business. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00255