The Tao of Change :: The Four Elements of Thoughtful Business Disruption
The concept and the urgency of change is now everywhere. For the past decade or so, we've been gradually subscribing to it as a culture - in the realms of diet, alternative medicine, meditation, mindfulness.
The "secret" formula to success and healthy balance came somewhere in the chasm between personal development and self help, and was entirely put upon the individual, or the individual's personally generated support network.
Recently, some of the most popular consumer brands are being called out with pretty harsh criticism. Amazon has been charged with difficult working conditions, grueling performance reviews, and poor treatment of women and those with medical needs. Target is settling a multi-million dollar suit brought against them for having unfair employment assessments that screened for gender, race, and violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. And now transition and change management are not only a progressive necessity for companies who don't want to be irrelevant, but also patch plans and life rafts for corporations who are being called out for their lack of HUMAN qualities.
We're seeing a merge of "personal development" and "professional humanization", and the keys to this shift are elusive to a large majority of traditional modern businesses.
From my perspective, these are the four disruption elements that every company can be practicing to proactively avoid getting caught up in a spanking new contemporary scandal.
DISRUPTION ELEMENT 1: START AT THE TOP. Companies are lead by leaders. Duh. But the most progressive leaders aren't the ones who see this as an issue, they are the ones that are taking the time and expense to analyze their culture from the top down, and to disseminate change and development through middle management, teams, and THEN to the marketplace. See Elements 2-4 for more detail.
DISRUPTION ELEMENT 2: ADDRESS THE ISSUES. To the Batmobile, Batman! Err, ummmmm, wait. Slow down. Go slow to go fast. Fix the leaders, then fix the middle management, then fix the team, THEN FIX THE MARKETPLACE. If you go to market with these issues in your system, the marketplace will reject you. Hard. Severely. And very publicly. Think I'm over-reacting? Check out some of the comments in response to the Amazon story in the New York Times. People were pitching their Kindles and unsubscribing from Amazon Prime, and yelling about it. Loudly.
DISRUPTION ELEMENT 3: SUPPORT EMERGING TALENT. Supporting staff with a "Great job, man!" and a gift card to the local steakhouse after they have chipped away at a company change for months or years is so 20 years ago. Emerging talent support looks like Eastern medicine. It doesn't cure an illness when it's painful. It doesn't medicate the "acute" issue and wait for additional or worsening problems before coping mechanisms are built, or appointments with the physician are made. It builds a practice of supporting good energy, positive habits, and people are seen as a matter of course by a supportive professional leader for a discussion about their wellbeing and their sense of balance.
DISRUPTION ELEMENT 4: START TODAY. No matter where you are on the spectrum or in the cycle, it's important to start on the path of purposeful business disruption, change and transition management, and just generally rising on the evolutionary chart of business strategy TODAY. Change management is the new PR. You can't wait until the crisis to fix it. And if you do, make sure you're working on real live hat-in-hand modifications, not "spin". If you don't own your story of change, someone else is guaranteed to. This is new territory, but with some building blocks and some help, it doesn't have to be overwhelming, debt inducing, or earth-shattering. Manageable change is a call to a great consulting team away! Hooray! And if they are worth their salt they won't just inspire you - they will leave you with a blueprint for long term, strategic change.
In implementing these four elements, set up a system for support, development, and leadership coaching/growth for the greatest talent on your team. This is an incredibly wise investment of time, capital, and goodwill. Three key groups who can be developed into diamond-sharp professionals who are thrilled to be employed by you are women, creatives, and millennials. If you are out to win hearts and minds, these are also your biggest brand advocates and your best buffer if things take a turn for the worst.
The hallmark of a supreme purposeful disruptor is this : they love to interrupt, but they choose grace. They love to design something new and bring it to fruition. And they love to move on to the next "case", leaving you to navigate and implement based on the carefully inked treasure map identifying all of the booby traps, the riddles, and the secret knocks.
We're in the midst of a modern renaissance.
And everything is about to CHANGE.