In this difficult and tough time where companies and managers have to face difficult situations and make hard decisions, it is important to remember that changes are always necessary to improve and to continue especially during unfavorable times.  I would like to share this extract from the book “Lean Audit” (Muenzing:  “Lean Audit” -Lean Map, 2015) because it is a detailed and complete guide on how the companies and managers should always be ready to change; and that change is the engine of the success of the company and its people.  

Readiness 

Readiness refers to the state of preparedness needed to face and implement change. 

It involves having a vision and resources in place, engaging people, and creating the motivation to act. 

Readiness is strongly influenced by the thoroughness of planning, adequacy of training, and availability of support services.  The consultants and the managers should prepare an organization to adapt to advances in technology, a shift in customer preferences, and changes in the competitive landscape. It is important to possess awareness and openness toward change, scope and approach, and change culture. 

“They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom”.   –Confucius 

An organization is always in motion, moving from one state to another, continuously responding to internal and external forces caused by a strategic shift, new regulatory policy, an emergency, an emerging competitor, disruptive technology or an internal improvement program. Progress in any field requires continuous change and adaptation. Key factors to succeed are attitudes, conditions, and resources: 

1. Attitudes – the vision of a different future and the commitment to achieve it, the conviction and will.

2. Conditions- the structures, rules and systems necessary to mandate, manage, and support the change

3. Resources- the human, physical, and financial resources needed to support or facilitate the change

Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility”. –G.M. Trevelyan 

Change is inevitable but efforts often fail when the reason for change is based on rational thought and business logic alone while ignoring human behavior. The required change must appeal to the head and touch of heart, so people are ready to take charge and direct resources and intellectual energy to what moves the organization forward. If these forces are ignored, they generate confusion, friction, frustration, and misguided energy. Resistance builds when people are not interested and not supported. Frustration results when they are capable and willing, but not supported by their superiors when trying to remove obstacles. Learning is the outcome when unskilled people are motivated, properly supported, and willing to learn whatever is required within their frame of capability. And finally, when skill, will and leadership are in place, successful change is possible.  

Readiness for change is a function of capability and commitment. Commitment gets people involved and emotionally attached to the team and task. Commitment and involvement require conviction and motivation. Conviction is the intellectual understanding of the need for change and will is the emotional response to a need. Capability is a measure of the ability of a person to change based on the conditions that enable or disable the person to perform and the skills of that person. If people are not willing or unable to change, the efforts to implement change will fall short of expectations, regardless of how well they are supported. Good leaders not only create the need but also build the required capability and commitment that make their people ready for change. 

There are the factors that enable successful change: 

1. A Visionthat is clearly defined and broadly communicated so that managers are able to derive operational objectives and resources requirements from it; 

2. The Desireto achieve the vision, the willingness to change the current approach, and the resolve to overcome challenges, follow-through and complete the transition; 

3. A compelling Needfor change through pain or gain, while everyone understands the benefits of achieving the future state as well as the consequences of failing to implement it; 

4. A solid business case that defines how the change generates an Economical Benefit, showing the funding as well potential risks;’

5. Ownership is established via sponsorship and leadership, which are well defined and broadly shared; accountability is clearly assigned and leaders keep their teams focused on strategic goals while sponsor ensure full alignment with senior management;

6. Governanceis in place to exercise authority , ensuring that corporate interests are served and objectives are achieved; 

7. People held Accountableto specific assignments and appropriate responsibilities, measurable contributions against expectations are recognized, and decision-making focuses on people and processes most impacted by the change; 

8. The Executionapproach is appropriate for the task and players know their roles; it is clear to everyone how the change will be implemented, monitored, and how alignment will be achieved; 

9. Capabilityis sufficient to execute all required tasks, assess gaps, prioritize and hose appropriate trade-offs, and make decisions under tight timeliness 

10. Changes can be fully Absorbedby the organization to successfully operate in the new way 

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything”- George Bernhard Shaw 

Signs of Excellence 

The entire organization has embraced change as an engine of their success. A clear vision is established and communicated to everyone. Strong and capable leadership is in place, key stakeholders have agreed on direction and goals, appropriate resources are allocated, and expectations for behaviors are established. Managers lead by example and demonstrate their support, while senior management is not only sponsoring the change, but also removing organizational barriers and steering the transition. People most affected by the change are actively involved in designing the future state; their capability and motivation is sufficient to overcome identified obstacles. Key decision-makers and people in power ensure that political forces will not derail efforts or redirect resources. Continuous change is supported by the organizational culture and existing structures and behaviors will not stop new ideas, innovations and improvements from being implemented. Systems are in place to document progress and report results. Feedback is timely, everyone knows how well they meet expectations, priorities are reinforced and milestones celebrated. 

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change” – Stephen Hawking  

ASCM Magazine  –  Janet Duckham