In today’s business environment, change management is an imperative. Innovation and change aren’t things that happen now and then. They’re an ongoing and dynamic process that you must actively manage to maintain:
Alignment with your business environment
Your competitive advantage over the long term.
You must effectively move from the relative safety of the known and familiar and navigate the innovation and change process. You must move beyond slow and reluctant compliance with the need for change.
Having a change management strategy is a critical aspect of successful innovation implementation.
Whether external or internal triggers drive change, there is always space for choice. Ultimately, it’s the decision-making process (the exercise of choice) and how effective you are at implementing those choices that shape change’s outcomes.
In this sense, innovation and change are choices – about what change you’ll respond to and what change you will proactively initiate.
The Key Challenges of Change Management
People don’t like change, generally speaking.
People who have been doing things a certain way for a long time don’t like being told they have to do things differently. Accordingly, managing change can be difficult and involves preventing and overcoming negative perceptions that lead to resistance. You must break down the barriers to change while building commitment and facilitating its implementation.
Two critical components required for a business to adapt or proactively instigate change (aka innovate) involve making changes to your business:
Routines (the processes, procedures, systems and resources you need to adopt change)
People (their beliefs, values, attitudes and, ultimately, their behaviours).
Breaking Down the Barriers to Change
You must provide the capacity and capability for change while establishing the support and motivation needed to embrace it. That is, to engage in effective innovation and change, you must avoid:
A poorly planned and executed change management process because this can limit the ability to adopt a proposed change (even if people want to), resulting in both limited change and negative perception
Negative perceptions, because this leads to resistance to change
Poor communication because it leads to negative perceptions and, in turn, resistance as people fill in the gaps created by poor communication with harsh attributions.
Effective change management involves both people and project management. This means you must ensure that the reason for change has merit, understand the underlying concerns, shape perception through communication and facilitate implementation through appropriate project planning and execution.
Running a Successful Business Requires Innovation and Change
Running a successful business involves winning your employees’ hearts and minds and taking them and your business on a journey of growth. Your business must adapt and effectively implement your innovation projects to maintain its long-term competitive advantage.
At a high level, managing a successful business means:
Working with those who have fixed mindsets and encouraging everyone in your business to adopt a growth mindset by providing ‘mindset’ training
Knowing why your business exists – being clear about its deeper purpose, why people should care, and the reason why change is needed
Establishing a challenging, crystal-clear vision of the future – something capable of inspiring significant and sustained effort
Communicating your purpose and vision at every opportunity – share it with those whose support you seek
Engaging your people and communicating your business’ progress, successes and failures, and the underlying reasons for these outcomes – measure performance, learn as you go and celebrate wins
From time to time, getting everyone in your business to change and adapt.