The world, particularly over the last 2 years, has been disrupted like never before and we are still experiencing rapid, multi-dimensional change in our private and work lives. But what is different today is the speed at which change is occurring -it’s exponential.
I am working with a HR Leader, let’s call her Mary, of a large technology company. The company has had 2 re-structures within 14 months. But that almost seems to be the norm these days. Right now, they are undergoing a substantial digital transformation and I am helping equip their leaders with change management skills. Another layer of systemic change. Mary said to me last week: ‘There is so much change happening all the time, I feel we are not catching up with technology and the pace of re-structures.’ Another comment that’s all too common these days.
Adapting to rapid, exponential change is challenging. This HBR article points to futurist Ray Kurzweil who says: “The future is widely misunderstood. Our forebears expected it to be pretty much like their present, which had been pretty much like their past.” But projecting our pasts onto our futures exposes a fundamental error. Linear thinking can never catch-up and adapt to the perpetual, pervasive, and exponential change occurring around us — it’s simply too fast and too complex.
Here is what I think is the problem with change:
And whilst this graphic makes me chuckle every time I see it, it’s also very true when it comes to the challenge of change. Here’s the thing: most people, in general, don’t mind change. But when it comes to changing themselves or their habits or taking on the responsibilities of leading change, a lot of the initial excitement wanes. There is no surprise that organisations are struggling considering the pace and sheer amount of change they ask their leaders to manage every day.
‘It’s not the strong of the species, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’ – Charles Darwin
The 3rd pillar of leadership ‘Lead Change’ is all about relevance.
Leading change means making decisions that impact teams and organisations and connecting the two with external factors like global megatrends (for example, Globalisation, The Future of Work, Technological Progress, Demographics, and Environment).
People who lead change well, anticipate change and make relevant decisions considering clients, products and services, and project and communicate strategies. Like the excursion leader of a group exploring unknown territory, these people lead from the front, scouting out safe routes and look out for danger. They make sure to find the safest and fastest path to the destination, dealing with changes and freeing up the track for the group along the way.
This pillar focuses on leaders being adaptable, agile, and exceptional at complex problem-solving and change management. What Mary and her organisation are going through in the face of change is not unusual and what we are working on together is equipping their employees with the right skills to foresee and manage change.
Change happens at a personal level
Whilst often driven by technology, change actually happens at a personal level. So, we need to understand how humans react to change in order to communicate and increase awareness and get buy-in. Because it’s your people who implement change and make sure it sticks.
In my book ‘LEAD THE FUTURE’, I dive into the skills that are vital to leading change well:
- Complex Problem Solving
- Agility & Change Management
I share stories, my ‘Agile Mindset Model’ and a practical change management tool that helps leaders to come up with activities to lead change at a personal level while achieving organisation goals.
If you are curious on how to bring some of our work around leading change skillsets into your organisation, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.