There’s a famous saying: “may you live in interesting times”. While many people debate the saying’s origin, there’s certainly no doubt that it applies today. Change is everywhere, particularly as we live in a VUCA world. This is a world which is:
• Volatile – because everything is connected and rapidly changing;
• Uncertain – because the change is often unpredictable;
• Complex – as there is a multiplicity of stakeholders, customer and supplier with varying needs and impacts; and
• Ambiguous – as there is lots of information and ideas, but a lack of clarity as to how it will play out
Changes in teams, organisations, communities and the environment takes place amidst a stream of other changes.
There are connections, dependencies and impacts many of which are known, and many of which are unknown. This is why it’s critical to build the skills and techniques to make change work for you. If you are unprepared you are less to be able to adapt and thrive.
And statistics show that businesses that can’t adapt eventually go bankrupt or shut down. Successful change requires you to be purposeful, positive and planned.
Purpose is about intent
Be clear on your end goal and understand how the changing landscape will impede or enhance your ability to achieve that goal. To do this you need to assess what is driving the change and what it means for your organisation. Having that data makes it easier to understand what alignment or realignment is necessary to deliver on your strategic objectives. You’ll also be able to identify what roadblocks may arise and the best way to remove them.
It’s easy to create options and ideas, but not all of these will be worth pursuing. Having clarity of purpose simplifies the process of identifying which of these you shouldn’t waste time on – conserving precious energy and resources.
Positive is about mindset
Be aware of the mindset you are applying to the situation so that you have the resilience and optimism to work through challenges and set-backs. With change comes challenge, and how you approach it will impact your ability to overcome it. You will become very quickly drained of energy if you let the challenges overwhelm you.
Finding ways to break the challenges down into smaller pieces, being clear on the progress you are making and celebrating that progress all help in this regard. It also helps to be curious about what is going on around you, and to not fall into the trap of thinking that just because you’ve seen something before, that it will turn out the same way.
Planned is about action
As people get older they often become more reluctant to try new things and do things differently. They get stuck in a pattern of behaviour, which becomes harder to shift.
In contrast, children learn through playing. It is a form of experimentation, and whilst they might fail at something they quickly dust themselves off, and try again.
If you want to thrive through change you need to push yourself (and your brain) outside its comfort zone. Each time you learn something new you are challenging your brain. Your brain is like a muscle – so it’s just like taking your body to the gym! It’s good for you. So think about what learning you may need to do. Don’t sit back and wait for someone to tell you what you need to learn – be proactive and take action .
Michelle Gibbings is a change and leadership expert, founder of Change Meridian and the author of Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work.
This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.