“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw
One of the impressive but generally unnoticed events everyday is how individuals and households wake up in the morning and instinctively prepare for the day and perform numerous tasks almost simultaneously; however, if there is disruption in that sequence like sickness, being out of breakfast cereal, or an accident on the way to work, chaos can – and often does – prevail.
Simply put, change throws us off our game. We’ve created processes and routines to autopilot through parts of our lives, so when things take a turn, we have to think quickly on our feet. It doesn’t always work.
Recognize Change Early And Don’t Resist It
Instead of finding a method that works and sticking with it until you suddenly run into trouble, keep an eye out and see how the world around you is changing.
Often times, your system doesn’t “suddenly” stop working. There were likely forces working against it for years before you ran into problems. Take Blockbuster as an example. Netflix didn’t come out of nowhere. Technological advances were moving in that direction for years. It’s just that because Blockbuster didn’t pay attention, they got caught flat-footed.
Similarly, we must learn to accept change rather than the tendency to resist or be afraid. In the last few months, we have new election results, more world attacks, the continued growth of Amazon and the internet, a rising stock market, falling bond prices, and the Cubs winning the World Series. Change is everywhere! You might find some changes good and others bad, but the key is that change will keep happening. By accepting it as part of life and welcoming the opportunities it brings, you’re more likely to deal with it effectively.
Some suggestions for building adaptation into your efforts are as follows:
1) Don’t let emotion or bias affect you
For example, passion, energy, and commitment are strong determinants of success; however, it is also important to adapt to whatever change is occurring.
Similarly, bias in reacting to change can be a major barrier. For example, we are more generally favorable to positive news than negative. Make sure that you’re just as willing to act on the negative news, even if you don’t like what you hear.
We frequently avoid making tough people decisions in maximizing our organizations. Most organizations need more technical and analytic skills. Are you providing challenges and opportunities for your best people or drowning them in bureaucracy? Are you retraining or changing staff who are less effective? Are you creating a culture that includes and encourages diversity while also creating a united focus?
2) Measure progress and respond regularly
Factor change into your regularly processes. While it can range from sophisticated analysis to simply asking, “How am I doing?” the important thing is to do it.
By analyzing prices and costs and developing new ways to package your offerings, you can provide better value and more profits. Issues like free shipping, more or less customer service, buying in volume, focusing on best customers are examples.
3) Learn to prioritize
What is working and what is failing and how do you devote more resources to the success? Sometimes our fear of change limits our efforts to understand that opportunities and not challenges are the greatest effect.
4) Don’t change just to change
At the same time, we must ensure not to change just for change’s sake. There are numerous products, brands, and practices that are great just the way they are. For example, products like the Whopper, Coke, Tide, and NY Pizza have flourished seemingly forever. In short, we must be sure not to throw the baby out with the bath water.
In summary, the most important aspect of change is to recognize its importance and deal with it. It does require an openness and willingness to test new efforts; however, the risk can be greatly reduced by testing, research, and analysis. In particular, we spend too much developing and researching ideas rather than executing small tests and then improving.
“If you limit yourself to what’s comfortable, you’ll deny yourself of what’s possible.” – Sheryl Sandberg
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