On the Importance of Articulating Change

I think I might be going slightly addled in my old age.

There’s a large, multinational I’m intimately familiar with that is currently amidst disrupting its market as it cannibalizes itself and breaks new ground.  Like most well run organizations full of intelligent people, they’ve realized that significant change will be required across the board – from R&D to Sales & Support.  Excellent story right? Right.

Except it seems like no one bothered to clearly enunciate what is driving the change (revenue recognition, etc) and what the overarching change plan is. In fact, in so far as I’m aware, there is no 3 year change plan. Or even a five year change plan. There’s likely a twelve month plan but it’s been torn up and redone so many times it’s a poor joke to call it a living document. Living dead maybe.

Look, there’s probably something along those lines. There’s a LOT of brilliant, capable people up and down the chain – this isn’t a company of slackers. But the communication is clearly lacking. Even if it’s because we have to remain nimble, we have to react to the marketplace or the changes, ok, fine, communicate it. There can be few things more exhausting to a results oriented workforce – that pushes each other more than they get pushed – than to be chasing the change ghost.

Just because Dr Christensen mentioned that 4 out of 5 companies that attempt this change fail at it the first time, doesn’t mean you set out to prove him right! Try to be the outlier, not the recidivist.

B52 Stratofortress

B52 Stratofortress

Change is hard. Personal, professional much less organizational across multiple geographies. You’re changing from a B52 to a B2 in mid-air, during a vital bombing mission, as you’re dropping bombs with flak and SAM all around you and radar locks out the ying-yang.  Ok, maybe it’s harder than that. And if the aircrew has no idea what the plan is because the airbase has forgotten there’s a radio they can use … well, you get the picture. I hope, as I’ve run out of appropriate metaphors.

The point is that even if there’s organizational recognition and acceptance that change is necessary and everyone’s on

B2 Spirit

B2 Spirit

board, consistently clear communications have to be key to success. Start with the goal. That’s where you want to go right? Perfect. We ran into a hill, we have to push harder. Perfect. We’ve hit a ravine, we’re going to have to backtrack and try a river crossing. Gotcha. Let’s go. Crap, the river is flooded. Hey, let’s build a bridge, we got any carpenters and masons? Half a caravan full, keep them wagon’s rolling. Don’t leave the rest of us wondering. Or wandering.

Oh, wait, there’s a dragon too, did I mention?

Dragon vs Bomber

Dragon vs Bomber

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