Everyone likes a good change model, especially me. I’ve been guilty of buying into the fallacy that change models perpetuate: it will all be okay. That’s what change models do: they address our emotional need for certainty or security. The models tell us (and we believe) that if we just follow the pattern – from beginning to middle to end – we’ll happily reach the finish line. But, that’s not how the world works today – or perhaps for quite a while.
The term VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) is the acronym used to describe the current zeitgeist. What is either comforting or wildly distressing is that this acronym was first used in the 1980s!
Change is the only constant in the workplace and “business as usual” means continually modifying, integrating, and transforming. Innovation and global competition are more disruptive than ever. At JMReid Group, we don’t think effectively leading or managing change is about following the doctrine of any one model. We think it’s about agility, assimilation, and accommodation.
Agility means keeping your eyes, heart, and mind open to new possibilities and an inclination to jettison the sacred policies or practices that no longer serve the organization. Organizational agility requires leaders to be curious, visionary, and willing to take calculated risks. This state of being doesn’t come naturally to many of us – because it can be scary. But the changing workplace requires us to step up. So:
- Create a culture where your team is encouraged to challenge assumptions and ideate.
- Hire for the competencies of creativity, innovation, and problem solving.
- Recruit a mentor to help you move out of your comfort zone.
Assimilation is about welcoming and integrating alternative perspectives, competing agendas, and contradictory points of view. If this sounds like crowd-sourcing solutions to your biggest organizational problems, then you’re catching on. There is no one right answer anymore, and there is most definitely not one person with all the answers.
Assimilation requires leaders to turn to others for ideas and operate in an environment that can feel unsettling at times. Practice assimilation by inviting disconfirming points of view on your daily decisions. For the big stuff, build an internal think-tank with team members who possess varying skill levels and experience.
Collaborate. Cooperate. Now is not the time to go it alone.
Finally, let’s talk about accommodation. Simply speaking, this means adapting and adjusting. Change requires all of us to shake loose the shackles of “should.” We’d really like for things to go a certain way. Some of us might even believe that things should go one particular way. But, success in an environment of disruption looks like flexibility and feels like fluidity. Leaders who can pivot or go with the flow are those most likely to come through change well and be able to move quickly toward the next shifting priority. They’re also the ones most likely to have a team behind them willing and able to address whatever comes.
Change? No problem! You’ll be fine as long as you don’t rely on the old and tired change models that make a bunch of assumptions and promises that we know aren’t true. Contact us for more about building a resilient and agile workforce.