We are all naturally apprehensive about change. We fear the unknown. Most people are reluctant to take risks. This can be particularly true in a successful business. Success can be an enemy of innovation. Why mess with a model that works? There is little incentive to take risks and try new things. But even successful companies are at risk if they stand still. Smith Corona was very successful making typewriters but the technology of personal computers and the innovation of word processors proved too fatal to its business. Polaroid Corporation was a leader in instant photography but digital camera technology dealt it a serious blow and pushed it into Chapter 11.
Overcoming the fear of change is vital for business leaders. They will need to take this issue head-on. They must engage their teams in a dialogue and discuss the risks and benefits of standing still or of innovating. Some of the types of messages are, for example:
* We must fight the risk of complacency
* We are doing well right now but we need to do better.
* There is a risk in innovating but there is a bigger risk in not doing anything.
* If we don’t find new ways to reach and delight our customers then others will do it for us.
* Change can be a big positive for us if we can drive it in the direction we want.
Leaders must promote a dialogue where, in addition to communicating these messages, they must listen to their team’s concerns and solicit their input. You can even turn negative people around by asking for their views on how to make things better. When asked, they will often volunteer great ideas for how we can make the change a big success.
Here are some tools you can use in the battle to win the hearts and minds of your teams:
* Stories about companies that focused on what they did well and who missed the next big wave.
* Praise for risk-takers and entrepreneurs within the business who have helped to drive change – successfully or unsuccessfully.
* Examples of how we won business by doing something new.
* Examples of how we lost business to more innovative competitors.
Innovation involves taking risks, changing things that work and coping with failures. Many people find it an uncomfortable journey. It can be a very bumpy ride but the alternative is to stay in the same place and slowly wither.
Moral of the story
Innovative leaders constantly evangelize the need for change. They replace the comfort of complacency with the hunger of ambition. They say, “We are doing well but we cannot rest on our successes – we need to do even better.” They explain that while trying new ventures is risky, standing still is even riskier. They must paint a picture that shows an appealing future that is worth taking risks to achieve. The prospect involves perils and opportunities. The only way we can get there is by embracing change.
Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the founder and president of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. His company is dedicated to helping organizations and individuals manage strategic change, innovation, cultural transition, and goal achievement. Surya has over 26 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. Contact Surya at s6ganduri@eMBCinc.com. For more information, visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.