Responsiveness

IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN NECESSARY TO BE RESPONSIVE TO CHANGE AND PEOPLE have always reacted to the prospect of change differently—some resisting it, some welcoming it. Responsiveness and the capacity to react intelligently to change go hand in hand with the ability to be successful. As Hilary Cropper puts it:

Change is endemic. Organizations and individuals need to be able to change their spots, to live with some discomfort. It's all about survival.

According to Thomas Huhn, change tends to be articulated both by younger people and by those who are new to the area of work. Writing some 30 years ago, Huhn is credited with being the inventor of the word "paradigm" in his fascinating book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. As we watch the impact of technology on the business environment today, Huhn's observations seem strangely prescient.

A paradigm is a framework or pattern, a way of making sense of the world. Moore's law, the idea that computer power doubles every 18 months, is an example of a paradigm. So is the now discredited notion that you can have a job for life in one organization or sector.

Most change is comparatively gradual in the great scheme of things. Even if you feel that the change you are anticipating is enor-mous—a paradigm shift—it will be helpful to show how it can be achieved by a series of incremental moves. These will be easier for the minds of the people involved to grasp. Most people would prefer to have some kind of model for what they are being asked to do.

From the perspective of the mind, there are a number of principles that those managing change may want to consider:

♦ Inform people fully, dealing honestly with difficult issues.

♦ Engage people in creating the solution.

♦ Provide a clear alternative vision.

♦ Create a culture of support.

♦ Minimize uncertainty.

♦ Once you have decided what you are doing, do it quickly.

Most of these will be self-explanatory from what you know already about how the brain works. The last one is particularly important, as it is sometimes wrongly thought that a long-drawn-out approach is kinder to those involved; in reality, that is more likely to lead to stress and uncertainty.

Chris Mellor of Anglian Water is convinced about the need to involve employees. As he says: "With major change people always assume the worst. It is essential that you get people emotionally involved or you will not get their commitment."

Think back to a significant change you have recently experienced at work, one that has hap- A pened to you rather than one you have led. Apply these principles to it, using the chart below.

Questions to consider

How was this principle acknowledged?

How did you feel?

How could the principle have been more effectively built into the process of change?

Build on the past

Inform people fully, dealing honestly with difficult issues

Engage people in creating the solution

Provide a clear alternative vision

Create a culture of support

Minimize uncertainty

Once you have decided what you are doing, do it quickly

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave several of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce and check off items on our to-do list by each day’s end seems to decide the direction and quality of our existence for us.

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