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Control Change Process

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Crisis is simply change trying to take place. Understand how to maintain focus and control during change to view it as a healthy and positive step toward achieving your goals. Embrace change and use it to your advantage rather than letting it work to your disadvantage. Change is inevitable. Use it to your advantage, or let it work to your disadvantage.

Brain Tracy

There is a little poem, "Two men looked through prison bars. One saw the mud; the other saw the stars." The moral: You can improve your ability to deal with change by focusing your attention on the future and by seeing the glass as half-full rather than half-empty.

A critical issue in dealing with change is the subject of control. Most of your stress and unhappiness comes as a result of feeling out of control in a particular area of your life. If you think about the times or places where you felt the very best about yourself, you will realize that you had a high degree of control in those places. One of the reasons why you like to get home after a trip is that, after you walk through your front door, you feel completely in control of your environment. You know where everything is. You don't have to answer to anyone. You can relax completely. You are back in control.

Psychologists call this the difference between an "internal locus of control" and an "external locus of control." Your locus of control is where you feel the control is located for a particular part of your life. People with an external locus of control feel they are controlled by outside forces, their bills, their relationships, their childhood experiences, or their external environment. When a person has an external locus of control, he or she feels a high degree of stress. And with an external locus of control, a person is very tense and uneasy about change of any kind. Change represents a threat that may leave the individual worse off than before.

On the other hand, people with an internal locus of control possess a high level of self-determination. They feel that they are very much in charge of their life. They plan their work and work their plan. They accept a high level of responsibility, and they believe that everything happens for a reason and that they are the primary creative force in their life.

Since the only thing over which you have complete control is the content of your conscious mind, you begin to deal with change by taking full, complete control over the things you think. As Aldous Huxley said, "Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you." Since change is inevitable and continuous, it is how you think about what is happening to you that is most important in determining how change affects you -- and whether you use it to your advantage or let it work to your disadvantage.

In his book Celebrations of Life, Rene Dubos wrote that we fear change more today than ever before, and for less reason. The reason we fear change is because we are afraid that we will be worse off as a result. No one fears change that implies improvement. For example, if you learned that you were going to have to change your lifestyle because you had just won the lottery, this is not the kind of change that you would avoid or anticipate with dread. It is change that implies unpleasant surprises that you fear and become anxious about, because it causes you to feel that you have lost a certain amount of control in that part of your life.

Your aim is to become a "change master," to embrace change, to welcome change, to ride the tides of change, and to move toward the improvements you desire.

(Nightingale-Conant Web Site, 2004)

Organizational transformation, culture change, business model redefinition -- leaders talk about these challenges, analysts demand them, and CEOs routinely are hired and fired based on their ability to orchestrate them.

Within this context, below is the four-step framework for thinking and controlling the challenge of transformation and making change happen.

Step 1: Stabilize operations

If your organization is financially unstable, if it's bleeding cash, you don't need a formal change process. A desperate, floundering organization needs a leader who takes action, does triage and gets the organization back on its feet.

Lou Gerstner understood this when he said in the early days of IBM's resurgence, "The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision." IBM needed a leader to take charge, build dissatisfaction with the status quo, create a sense of urgency and, most importantly, assemble a team of leaders who could help lead the charge into the future.

Step 2: Reshape the environment

Once your organization is financially stable, you need to assemble a leadership team to help you reshape the organization's environment, planting the seeds for new ways of thinking and new methods of operating across the firm.

This is the time to craft and champion a vision. And it's a great time to launch new products, services and marketing campaigns that reflect the new character of the organization. These initiatives send clear signals regarding the organization's new aspirations and directions. And they should be coupled with new performance metrics that drive the organization's new priorities.

The current revival of 3M is a great example. CEO Jim McNerney and his team of senior leaders have set a new direction for the company, revitalized the brand, set new standards of performance and taken 3M back to a position of leadership as a high performing, innovative company. And their passion for that direction has infected the entire organization.

Step 3: Think "waves"

Of course, lasting organizational change doesn't happen in a single stroke or in a single quarter. It takes time and needs to be rolled out in "waves" of competence-building. People throughout the organization need to learn new behaviors and new ways of doing things. And once they've mastered new skill sets and mindsets, they need to be challenged to keep growing.

Under Jack Welch, GE was a great example. Over his tenure, GE's strategic focus evolved from each business being a leader in their chosen market, to each being a global market leader, to each evolving services that complement their products, to each using six sigma to drive performance and growth on a global scale, to each using e-commerce as a global performance platform. These were waves of change that helped GE evolve capabilities that resulted in exceptional performance during the Welch era.




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