Change is scary. How do you make plans? How do you manage a company? How do you act quickly and effectively? It’s time to learn the science of change.
Harvard University professor John Kotter and his colleagues have been studying organizations for 50 years. They found out what helps companies change successfully. And then they turned the findings into teaching tools. The people who used them said, “What we’ve accomplished, many would have thought unbelievable two or three years ago.
Strategies for Change
The book, Strategies for Change, offers practical tips to help embed the ability to change in your company’s DNA.
The New Normal
When Kotter wrote the book, the world was experiencing a pandemic. It seemed like an extraordinary surge of uncertainty. But today we face an even bigger challenge. And it certainly won’t be the last.
To expect things to settle down in a year or two is to ignore the obvious: change is the new normal. We need to adapt not from time to time, but constantly.
Change activates people’s survival channel, a signaling system that looks for and reacts to threats. It’s useful if it’s activated from time to time. But if it is constantly ringing (as it does now), then we feel agitated, then we fall into apathy. It happens to people and to entire companies.
But there is another system, the prosperity channel. This “radar” seeks out opportunities instead of threats. Activation of the prosperity channel is accompanied by passion and excitement. The field of vision increases, we feel curiosity and want to act.
We need both systems, but when the world changes, the survival channel takes all the resources. The challenge is to keep it from overheating and activate the prosperity channel. In ourselves and those around us.
More leadership, more leaders
In most organizations, plans are implemented in cascades: from top to bottom. Only a group of top managers sees an inspiring picture of the future. The rest feel the fear of the unknown. Their channel of prosperity is shut off. So change either comes too slowly or fades away altogether.
To change successfully, you need a large group of passionate people, sharp minds, attentive eyes, and active “radars” looking for opportunities. This could be employees representing all departments of the company.
This approach is called leadercentric: each employee, regardless of position, can inspire and guide others. Everyone can be a change agent.
How to activate the prosperity channel
If the prosperity channel is not active enough, think more often about perspectives that are exciting, realistic and important to you personally. Talk to your colleagues about the same things. Discuss opportunities, not problems.
What are the challenges facing the organization? What can it achieve if it innovates and acts differently? What needs of customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, or the community are not being met and what will you gain by meeting them?
Organize a flow of opportunity messages within the company. They touch hearts, not just minds, and people get involved because they want it, not just because they have to.
Find employees willing to take action. Instead of convincing pessimists, start at the point where the energy is already there and let it build up. Encourage leadership action from anyone – even employees who haven’t been in good standing before.
did Benjamin Franklin say, “When you stop changing, you stop living.” His words become more relevant every year. The approach described in the book is based on advances in neurobiology and the study of human nature, as well as an understanding of the structure of modern organization and the barriers it erects to change.
The book is all about why we struggle to cope with change and what leaders can do to better respond to threats and opportunities.
Here’s what’s waiting for you:
- Stories of companies that implemented strategies and overcame crises in 90 days
- How to act in an era of rapid change
- How to mitigate survival reactions
- The digital transformation that truly transforms
- Why agile doesn’t work and how to fix it
- Community initiatives that can help billions of people
The current crisis is just an extreme example of growing uncertainty about the future. We’ve faced it before and will face it again. The science of change helps us cope. And if you start now, you can get truly overwhelming results.
Based on the book “Strategies for Change
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