Surviving Rapid Change

April 3, 2017

Leadership sets the tone, pace and culture of the organization. The policies and principles they put in place help to minimize occurrences of agency conflict, the need for transactional leadership and on-boarding of second, third and last adapters of change. These are some of the killers of change management without a culture of change, proper risk management strategies and strongly supportive leadership advocating and communicating the change.

Companies that have a poor track record of successfully implemented change encourages a culture of second, third and last adapters who have seen changes come and go, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of change failure. This is the fault of leadership, not the employees.

Change should have a well-thought out implementation strategy. It should be practical and provide a benefit not add burden, time and cost. It requires a polished, well-honed communication strategy. It needs a head start and time for employees to mourn the old process and accept the new change.

Change levels the playing field for all current employees. It puts the Go-To, Subject Matter Expert, Knows Everything About It people on the same level of experience with everyone else, which translates into a loss of status, standing wait it out.

Leadership must make it well known that the change is coming, train appropriately, reassure every one of their confidence in each employee’s ability to successfully come through the transition, while reinforcing that the change will occur, there is no going back and will provide opportunities for new stars in the company to shine.

However, leadership must accept that there are going to be casualties of change. Not everyone will make it onto the train. For late adapters and misinformed, leadership must have risk management strategies in place for those who either fail to get on the train or find themselves under the train.

Leadership can mitigate much of this in how they instill the concept of change in the culture and environment.

I work for a consulting and B2B company. We create a new universe for every client with whom we work. If we didn’t experience change from one company to the next, that would signal that company had no discernible market difference or differentiating value-added statement. It might be the reason we are working with that company to help change its direction, improve operations and increase market share.

A business won’t survive long following the pack. A company that doesn’t change doesn’t evolve and a company that doesn’t evolve is doomed to extinction.

Therefore, a culture of that embraces and espouses effective change assembles an empowered and supported team that formulates a holistic strategy and vision that prioritizes the most important elements to implement in succession. Then, that team communicates the change, setting expectations, answering questions and removing doubt and educating employees on how it will affect them, what it means for the company, how it will manifest itself and what the goals and benefits of the changes are. If there is any training that is necessary, it should happen prior to implementation, because there is a learning curve before new processes reach peak performance within an organization. This will remove any barriers to impedance.

Long-term goals should break down to short-term wins. It keeps motivation, spirits, enthusiasm, buy-in and encouragement high, as each phase implements and the process hits every milestone.


If leadership is tenacious and supportive, they will create an environment conducive to effective change, as they make organizational flexibility a culture behavior


Kotter, J. P. & Cohen, D. S. (2002). The heart of change: Real life stories of how people change their organization. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

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