Mind Your Business: Making Business Sense
A dubious consulting industry and "profession" has developed—claiming to provide "change management" services. Those two words make as much sense together as "holy war," "non-working mother," "mandatory option" and "political principles." Many of the books, models, theories and processes on change originate from staff support people, consultants or academics who've never built a business or led an organization.
"Change management" comes from the same seductive reasoning as strategic planning. They're both based on the shaky assumption that there's an orderly thinking and implementation process which can objectively plot a course of action like Jean Luc Piccard on the Starship Enterprise and then 'make it so.' But if that ever was possible, it certainly isn't in today's world of high-velocity change.
Successful change flows from learning, growth and development. Change can be ignored, resisted, responded to, capitalized upon and created. But it can't be managed. However, whether we become change victims or victors depends on our readiness for change. One of the inspiring quotations I've used for my ongoing personal improvement quest came from former president Abraham Lincoln, a man who spent decades failing in business and politics before becoming one of America's greatest leaders, which is inspiring in itself. He once said, "I will prepare myself and my time must come." That's how change is managed.
We can't crash-cram in a few days or weeks for a critical meeting or presentation that our key program, project or even career depends upon. We can't quickly win back customers who've quietly slipped away because of neglect and poor service. We can't suddenly turn our organization into an innovative powerhouse in six months because the market shifted. We can't radically and quickly re-engineer years of sloppy habits and convoluted processes when revolutionary new technology appears. These are long-term culture, system, habit and skill changes. They need to be improved before they're needed. In the words of an ancient Chinese proverb, "Dig a well before you are thirsty."