"Change is the only constant."
– Heraclitus, Greek philosopher
Organizations and leaders are in a constant state of change - adapting to fluctuating customer needs, technology advancements, personnel, new initiatives and goals. Sometimes the changes are by choice, and sometimes in response to outside forces. The world around us is in constant flux, and in order to continue to thrive and “stay ahead of the game,” we are forced to change with it. With the constancy of change, it would be easy to think that we should naturally be good at navigating transitions. But, as we know, negotiating organizational and personal change is anything but simple and easy.
A great deal has been written about change, and many scholars, business leaders, and consultants have examined and expounded on organizational and individual change processes and methodologies. Many approaches and "step by step" plans exist to handle the change, and many of them offer great insight and perspective. However, there is no "one size fits all" approach to managing significant transitions. How to approach organizational and personal change is so largely dependent on the context that it can be nearly impossible to apply these approaches successfully.
What this argument highlights is that change is largely cultural as well as strategic. As the saying goes, "culture eats strategy for breakfast." A great strategy alone will not move a company forward just as relying on culture alone is not enough. The truth is culture and strategy interact and are not mutually exclusive. That's why, when facing change, it is important to acknowledge and leverage culture as a part of the strategic plan and vision for the future. Understand that change isn’t just about having a great plan or “things to do,” it’s also about creating a culture within yourself and your organization that is adaptable and learns to navigate change effectively. It’s about both ways of “being,” and ways of “doing.”
Navigating change involves:
1) Understanding the surrounding context and deepening understanding of the complex challenges faced externally as well as internally
2) A clear sense of direction and vision for the future that includes both cultural considerations and strategic considerations
3) Getting clear about what is important and what can be let go
4) Generating adaptable solutions and tangible actions that will move beyond the current situation into the vision for the future.