Everything in your life and business is perfect. You don’t have a care in the world, right?
This could be the way it is (or how you think it is), but in my business experience things are typically not this way. Business could always be better. Even when things appear to be working, we should be exploring if there are new and better ways to do it.
Sometimes we know what we’re doing isn’t working.
We are not getting the results we need or we have typically had. There are times in our professional career when we have to come up with a new game plan. For you or your team, it may be time to abandon old techniques or procedures or markets and find new approaches. Unconventional approaches and outside the box thinking may be just what you need.
It is never easy to change.
We will encounter opposition. I was reminded of this recently in an unexpected place. It was a sermon by Mike Burnidge, Senior Pastor at Northridge Community Church, in Scottsdale, Arizona. His points were a good reminder that when stepping outside the box we will face resistance.
Pastor Mike offered five ways to approach change and I have revised his E-L-A-T-E outline slightly to reflect some of my own experiences.
Expect to Ruffle Feathers
There have been times in my career when we needed to do something different. We had to change things up. I would like to think they were all simple transitions and everyone was quickly on board, but that wasn’t the case. No matter how compelling the need or convincing the arguments there were people who didn’t like change, who got their feelings hurt, or simply wouldn’t go along.
I believe it is best to confront the issue head on. Listen to all sides, the pros and cons. Encourage as much input as possible. Then make a decision. Communicate the reasons and rationale for change. If it means going with something radically new, something outside of the box, then do it. You will have to work on the resistance. Remember, there will be some ruffled feathers!
Log Time Understanding and Explaining
When we take new directions, sometimes it’s clear and things happen quickly and positively. If it’s like most things, however, it will take some time. It will have its ups and downs before it catches hold. We must have conviction and belief that the changes are what we need. You must make sure all are pulling in the same direction. Pastor Mike would advocate prayer, and that may be needed, but stand by your strong convictions. Get out among the people doing the work and see if anything needs to be tweaked a little to make it better. Give new ideas time to gel and for everyone to get on board.
Abandon Colleagues When Necessary
When you are convinced it is time for change, you may find a need to abandon friends or co-workers who are holding you back. There will always be some resistance to change, and this is especially true when businesses are growing. You will hear that “we are not the same old company we once were”. Of course you are not!
Growth may require change and out of the box thinking. You are not changing the things that made it a good place to work, but you may be changing procedures, practices, and interactions and some people are slow to change. And remember, you will not change your company because of growth, you will only enhance it. Especially in these times of change, it’s essential that you communicate, communicate, communicate!
Take Quick Action
I see it in many organizations; there’s paralysis by analysis. The facts are clear, but there is resistance to change.
Once you have decided to go in a new direction, take action, and do it quickly!
- Explain why you are changing
- Get everyone on board with the rationale
- Explain that you will be better off by taking quick action
- Be prepared for errors and more change
Encourage Others to Think Creatively
It’s important to foster a culture of creativity and always trying to think outside the box. Whether or not you take the plunge every time, try to get yourself and others to think creatively.
- Rally your culture to embrace change
- Question existing methods and techniques
- Always see if there is a new approach or better way to do things
Business and life is all about dealing with change. Things never stay the same, and if we think they are, we could be left behind. Look around — there are very few companies more than 10 or 15 years old. If they are, I suspect they have had to change the way they do business. I was recently at the 150th Anniversary of First Tennessee Bank and while it is the 14th oldest bank charter in the U.S., it has had to change how it does business several times in its long history. We must all do the same, some more often than others.
Keep reinventing what you do to prosper. Don’t be afraid to embrace thinking outside the box!