By Robin Weninger
Although routine exists and one can experience it every day, things gradually change and evolve towards different states in future. Embracing change can be one of the toughest processes someone can undergo and without proper mental preparation, it can be quite challenging.
This is why today’s managers should have their eyes on the future. They have to understand that there is a possibility of more that one type of future. Moreover, each future has the potential of becoming a present much sooner than expected.
Fast Lane Forward on a Chaotic Road
Embracing Euclidean geometry as your motto for change management certainly has its benefits. It nurtures vertical thinking and creates an efficient way of dealing with problems. Vertical thinking promotes the use of logic and constant validation in order to reach the desired outcome but highways leading to the expected results in business are closer to a utopia than to real life. Although direct and long vectors are good for visualizing yourself close to the wanted outcome, the orography of the business world seldom allows such a mathematical construction. Small successive vectors, like footsteps on the ground, are a more logical course, leading you through an itinerary of small intermediate goals.
When dealing with the future, clinging to unresolved issues of the past leads to a delayed reaction to something that has already happened and is already in place. Therefore, dealing with the future should be separated from dealing with missed initiatives. Each road map for the future starts today and failing to understand that can leave one’s mind caught in a day that never comes.
Future can never be predicted, but enough preparation, the limitation of risks as well as taking notes from precedents can help a lot. It makes sure that the best possible outcome is on its way towards us.
Future can never be predicted, but enough preparation, the limitation of risks as well as taking notes from precedents can help a lot. It makes sure that the best possible outcome is on its way towards us. Yes, modulating between optimism and pessimism can help you achieve an accurate image of what is most probable to happen.
The future is always a projection and an extension of the past and the present. For managers, the future is the time for repairing mistakes and for improving the methods used to get things done. Extended experience and improved expertise also reside in the future, the only time that can host goals in terms of progress and evolution.
The Thought Marathon: Dealing With Change in the Long Run
The biggest ambiguity about future is that it offers different lenses, which often leads to fuzziness. A plan for tomorrow becomes the action of today, as the future always migrates across the calendar. A manager with a clear mind will know how to escape the trap of using the mobility of the future to postpone things that need to be done. For most of us, the future harbors forbidden dreams and obsessions as well as changes we fear to address. Working against that common usage of the future is important for someone seeking better time usage and improved managerial skills.
Change is not as easy as self-help books want you to believe. In fact, some might argue that change is actually impossible after a certain age and that visible change is actually a pile-up of superficial change, a makeup indented to fool our senses. From a biological point of view, organisms reject fast changes and are more geared towards continuity and sedimentation in the same blueprint. The same can be said about individuals, who are often caught defending their own way of being. For managers, in particular, the requirement to change can be seen more as a threat. If one experiences success by applying a certain framework, the requirement to change and adapt to new challenges might be seen as a direct threat. It is perfectly normal for managers to oppose change, at least at their subconscious level, and to find ways to delay the process as much as possible.
Making Change Work – A Bird’s Eye View of the Herculean Task
It is easy to trigger change, but the way it is integrated into daily activities differentiate success and failure. Like any other alteration to human behavior and the established status quo, change can spring from various sources. The most organic form of change occurs when the individual (in this case the manager) understands how important change is in the economy of the environment (organisation) he or she is part of. Adding the possibility to gain personal benefits can fuel the need to change even more.
Depending on one’s personality, another kind of motivation — less organic, but able to produce faster and notable results — can take the upper hand. Fear is one of the strongest human emotions and fear alone can induce and stimulate change more efficient than anything else. Fear of direct repercussions of the fear of being judged can work very hard towards building the proper motivation to change.
As a manager and leader of a team, change will always be on the horizon, requiring from you to learn to adapt. Whether we are talking about the mobility of workforce and the struggle for employee retention or about polarising the team with leaders to make your words better heard, you will always have to be there to amend change with decision making. The ability to react rapidly and without too many second thoughts can tell if you are opposing change or going with the flow and allowing change to mould you and your way of managing a business. We can create an entire discussion around the ups and downs of letting change, coming from the exterior, set up the pace but only one conclusion can emerge without any shadow of a doubt. The current state of our society is definitely allowing change to push the pedal down, without looking too much at the consequences.
A change will always bring increased performance and competitiveness, but at the cost of other aspects, which we tend to put in the secondary position. Too much change can leave you struggling to define and stick to an identity while being put under a constant pressure to change can induce stress and seriously affect the quality of life and business.
The ability to react rapidly and without second thoughts can tell if you are opposing change or going with the flow. It tells if you allow change to mould you and your way of managing a business. We can create an entire discussion around the ups and downs of letting change, coming from the exterior, set up the pace. But only one conclusion can emerge without any shadow of a doubt. The current state of our society is definitely allowing change to push the pedal down, without looking too much at the consequences. A change will always bring increased performance and competitiveness, but at the cost of other aspects, which we tend to put in the secondary position. Too much change can leave you struggling to define and stick to an identity while being put under a constant pressure to change can induce stress and seriously affect the quality of life and business.
Too much change can leave you struggling to define and stick to an identity while being put under a constant pressure to change can induce stress and seriously affect the quality of life and business.
The Art of Balancing Change and Preservation
Embracing change, as a manager, can be seen as the attempt to control a wild horse. The potential to reach goals faster and easier is definitely there, but learning how to control and adapt to the new speed can claim quite a lot of your resources. One might end up very tired and worst case scenarios can leave managers clueless about their new position and headings.
Change happening too fast can also have a negative consequence on employees who will be required to move at a speed similar to yours. On the other hand, failure to embrace change in time and failing to integrate it into your activity is often unacceptable for some professions. IT and technology geared companies rely on having the edge over their competitors to stay on the crest of the wave. As the digital world aims to become better by focussing on high-quality performance and our reliance on it increases, we will never say no to progress and change.
Embracing change and dealing with the future go hand in hand with each other in the process of creating a functional strategy. The two components are mandatory checkpoints for each manager taking the obvious and consecrated path towards success. The all-time reminders are the small everyday goals. The component of routine we hate so much help to deliver the big results after a given period of time. In the same way, the pile-up of small components can hide or distort the perception of the bigger goals. Being too caught up in counting steps and making sure each stride lands in the exact right position can shift focus towards a shallower field of view. Knowing how to zoom back and forth and how to achieve a sharp focus at both ends of your focal length scale, builds the fundament for a successful strategy.
A Blessing in Disguise?
Change has always been there, one step ahead of the present, in a form more or less dramatic. On some occasions, change was so abrupt that it changed and redefined our world. On other occasions, it was so well disguised that we began to feel its implications only after having already been exposed to it for a good deal of time. In both cases, change found people ready to embrace and people ready to do anything to conserve the previous state.
Like we all know, radicalism has never done any good and a certain dosage of both, access and restriction, is required when dealing with change. Although we have little to do relating to the way change shapes our world, we have all the tools to control how change is affecting us as entities. Training yourself to take the good parts of any change is an ability that will never fall short of producing the expected positive results. Taking the good parts of change and transplanting them in the work frame of your office is an experiment worth trying by any manager seeking to improve results.
Robin Weninger is the Managing Director of the think-tank shapingwork as well as of the tech start-up incoverage. He designs individual coaching and training programs for organisations and teaches management courses at business schools. In 2015 Robin was honoured as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum.
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