Tag Archives: Change Management

Winning in a crisis

No matter which sector you work in, from time to time chaos ensues.  Unexpected events mean the normal rules are throw out the window; stability is replaced by crisis, normality by a battle for survival.  There will be winners and losers; some will emerge stronger, others will be lucky to survive.

Under these circumstances, is it better to be the “best prepared going in” or to be the “best prepared to react as the dust settles”?

Is all lost if you weren’t ready, if you hadn’t anticipated the emerging risks, or if events develop so quickly that you’re caught off guard?

You can’t turn back the clock.  It’s how you respond that counts… you can take action to turn the odds in your favour.  You may not be the best prepared, but you may be able to turn yourselves into the best prepared to succeed.  Dig in!


Spending goodwill

If you can avoid it, don’t wait until the circumstances demand perfection to try out a new approach, to give staff new roles or to change the system.

When the pressure’s on you need to have confidence on your people, your processes and your systems.  If there are any weaknesses you will be found out.

Choose the time to introduce change carefully.  Be open about the fact that you’re trying something new, and that you’re taking a risk.  Seek feedback and be willing to introduce refinements.  Most importantly, allow people to choose if they participate and reward the willing.

Under the right circumstances people are happy to participate in trials and are generally sympathetic; they recognise things can go wrong and are forgiving.  However, they are not stupid, and will take offense at unwittingly being treated as guinea pigs.

How much goodwill do you have to play with?

A picture tells a thousand words

A picture tells a thousand words, but an icon endures. If you get the picture right, a simple diagram illustrating a key message, that message will come alive.

Moving beyond recollection, the icon becomes part of every-day language, a regularly visited reference point for discussions and decision making.

When you’re trying to deliver change too many visual models can create confusion, but if you can produce an iconic diagram to support your goals you’ll have taken a big step in the right direction.


If you can’t explain why something is urgent it may feel like you’re trying to pull a fast one.  People will feel uncomfortable, rushed and harassed, manipulated into action against their will.  They will be suspicious, demanding time to reflect on what’s been asked of them.  You will have to fight against the inertia, taking time to build understand and establish momentum.

When urgency is needed, trust is your friend.  Trust enables you to move at speed, as others fall into line, taking direction without hesitation.

Urgency without trust is counterproductive.  Attempt it at your peril.

Change is exciting!

Change is exciting! It’s new, and shiny.  It opens a world of opportunity; a chance to start afresh… to change the rules… to get ahead.

However, it doesn’t come without costs.  It takes effort and persistence.  It’s risky.  Exhausting.

At the end of a long day, when we’re tired and hungry, its familiarity we seek.  Familiar smells and feelings, sounds and faces, tastes and voices, safe and secure… routine.

Change is exciting… but we can only change so fast.

When “Small” Change feels big

In a small organisation, it doesn’t require “Big” change to make waves, to create significant disruption or to make a big impact. Even the results of “Small” change, the day to day evolution, minor course corrections or a re-focus can feel like a big deal.

Whereas people can be insulated from large changes in bigger organisations, the impact of change is more direct and immediate, more personal. Rather than being smoothed by scale, the journey is a bumpy one. The ups are very high, the downs low.

The opportunities for learning and reward can be huge and the scope for personal satisfaction immense, but you will need resilience and perseverance.

Success will stand you in good stead for when “Big” change is really required and the challenges that will bring!

The Fixers

Some people are experts at fixing things.  They make careers from addressing issues, from working their relationships to mend broken situations.

In a crisis they are indispensable.  They bring together different factions and bridge the gaps to cobble together complex solutions. The situation is saved… until something breaks… another crisis. Call the Fixers!

Most Fixers need a crisis to thrive.  Their ability to establish or maintain stable operations is often limited, not a core competence.  Day to day business is too mundane to hold their attention.  Lack of attention creates instability, creating crisis, resulting in chaos.

Some organisations seem to be broken.  It doesn’t necessarily mean people are unhappy; it’s just the way it is.  Just because it feels broken to us, doesn’t mean everyone feels the same way.

Before trying to find permanent solutions, to build something stable and sustainable, consider why things are as they are.  Is the organisation ready?  Does it really want what you have to offer?