Posted by Oliver Nyumbu
October 12th, 2009
Like a skilled surfer gracefully rides the waves, so managers must learn to surf well when it comes to change.
To say that we live in a world of change is to state the blindingly obvious. But just because rapid and discontinuous change is an inescapable reality does not guarantee we will be good at handling it. Every day you and I meet with or observe people who are living proof of Alvin Toffler when he said the future would shock us. But the fact remains that the best way to prepare for the future is to understand change. This is crucial given that in many cases when managers (or individuals!) plan for the future, we are comforted by assuming present conditions will continue - even when we are claiming things are going to be very different.
So what to do? Many years ago, Leon Martel suggested the following by way of a strategy for mastering change:
1. Recognise the change is occurring
2. Identify changes likely to affect your business, your profession, and your personal plans
3. Determine type and probable pattern of each change
4. Rank changes by importance of effect and likelihood of occurrence
5. Make use of changes
On this final point of making use of or exploiting change I am reminded of Ralph Teeter. His change was the fact that he was blinded in a childhood accident. The person who drove him about turned out to be so erratic this caused Teeter to suffer from motion sickness. This adverse change was used by Teeter in that he invented cruise control for use in cars and other applications. What are your personal or observed examples that might illustrate points 1 to 4 of Martel’s suggested strategy for mastering change?