One of the more heralded studies of leadership in the past few years was the 2010 IBM survey and interviews conducted with 1500 CEO’s from 60 different countries representing 33 different industries. In spite of the emphasis on the challenge of managing complexity and discovering the value of creativity and innovation, there remains the one constant variable and that is change. Those CEO’s had said previously that managing change was their biggest challenge. Whether you are growing your organization, reshaping and redesigning it to meet the needs of the 21st century, looking into the future with strategic visioning and making projections with a refined business model or using different and creative approaches to solving problems, it is still all about change.
A book that has stuck in my head since graduate school days back in the 60’s was The Dynamics of Planned Change by Lippit, Watson and Westley. (Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1958). The very first sentence in that book is “The modern world is, above everything else, a world of rapid change.” How could they have known what lay in store for the world in the next six decades and moreover, how can we know what lies ahead? Here are a few things I have learned about change over my own six decades of being a professional change agent.
First of all, change is inevitable and universal. Whether you are talking about an individual, an organization, a community or a country, or the world itself, nothing much stands still unless it’s dead and even then, decay and decomposition set in. Nothing can grow or evolve or improve or adapt or adjust without changing. Even if the change is as minimal as altering the internal response to what is going on outside, the net result is still some type of change. And that internal change may not be so small in the end. In fact, one has a better chance of changing the internal structures and behaviors than changing the world outside.
I have relied often on Margaret Mead’s words of wisdom, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” A lot depends on your needs, your goals and your commitments. Do you work with a small group of thoughtful, committed people? If yes, what are the results? If not, why not? Would you like to make any changes for 2012? Can you list them? What are the top three? What is your plan to make sure those happen? Ready? GO!