You will have heard the phrase “shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic”. Often used to describe the sinking feeling an organization descends into as the latest initiatives, business process changes or organizations reshuffles bring chaos to the status quo. But status quo does need to be challenged as our world isn’t standing still. Therefore, change is essential to any organization wanting to be a high performing enterprise.
Energy and Utilities have been evolving to the point that rapid and continuous improvement is the norm. Dealing with such levels of unprecedented change can, and often does, create chaos and causes organizations to stumble rather than soar.
It’s All About Approach
Performed correctly however, change becomes a powerful enabler. So often an organization fails to recognize the type of change they are attempting to bring about. Not standing back and investing time to determine the right approach is akin to planning to fail.
Instead plan to succeed by truly assessing your change initiatives and then adopting the associated style of change. Doing this will ensure your change fits inside the ‘Zone of Reason’ (ZOR). Not doing this will push you into chaos. Its not a precise science but from experience the above graphic makes it easy to assimilate with the intent.
For instance; embarking on change that relates to ‘more of the same’ is incremental to how it is today. Driving that change in any other way than being prescriptive is simply over the top. It’s really a case of JDI – just doing it.
Conversely if the change is truly radical and you adopt a compelling style and simply try to lead your organization into the unknown it will create chaos on a substantial scale. A change of this nature needs total collaboration including harnessing dedicated change agents together with a fully prepared program office.
Many years ago, I was part of a company initiative called the ‘Razor Gang’ tasked with…you guessed it, ‘shaving costs’. It was a team of four thrown together with a loose mandate from a couple of senior execs to look at all aspects of business and devise ways to save money. It was an ill-advised approach. None of us had any change training, including the senior execs. There was no change program or widespread communication or indeed any sponsorship or influencers to help convey the message. We were like a gang of crazed traffic warden’s intent on ticketing anything we thought was an excessive cost. It was of course a spectacular fail, causing company-wide chaos. At the time I did not understand why.
Fast forward a few years and it all became clear. Becoming part of a global change program, I and several colleagues, were put in the classroom with two of the most experienced change gurus ever to walk the planet. At the time they were part of Nolan Norton, the same outfit that developed the ‘balanced scorecard’ that ended up being a Corporate must have. I became a fully trained Change Agent and grew familiar with several tools and techniques that engender healthy and productive change. Those lessons have left an indelible mark. Today, no matter what industry or whether it’s an internal or client focus initiative, I always look at things with my change hat on (and the above mental model in my mind). Believe me it works.
Making change happen effectively is a true sign of a high-performance organization – all it takes is making well informed choices on how its approached. And never call a change initiative the ‘Razor Gang’!
By Chris Neal, Business Development Manager Hansen Technologies. Chris has over 25 years of senior sales and account executive experience as well as knowledge for outsourcing within IT, Financial Services, Energy & Utilities and Private Sector.