Posts Tagged ‘Change is Your Competitive Advantage’

Editor’s noteThis week we will be posting a series of book reviews prepared by Pam Banks. These reviews are also available to watch on Roger’s TV In Business Program. See link below.

Change is Your Competitive Advantage – by Karl Schoemer

By Pam Banks

I used to think that competitive advantage was all about proficiency in a new skill or an added feature in a new product.  But Schoemer points out that the “New Business Reality” is that in an uncertain world the only certainty is that things will change.

Change is driven by technology, information and people.  The pace of change is much quicker than it was even ten years ago.  Change is not a product of a decision in a company but as a result of how interconnected we are with people, societies and businesses around the globe.  We can see this when there is a severe storm forecast in the Gulf, gas prices in Mississauga escalate overnight.

Generally, people don’t like change – we like the status quo because it’s easier.  Change always brings a measure of problems, challenges and frustrations.  In fact, when you change how you do things, your productivity always goes down initially.  No matter what the change, there are four basic dynamics of the change process including a sense of loss, ambiguity and uncertainly, deterioration of trust and the need for self- preservation.  The prospect of change is like riding the Behemoth, there’s a dichotomy between the fear and thrill – and we each have a different perspective

In a business environment the four stages we go through when faced with change are: betrayal, denial, identity crisis and search for solutions.  These stages of resistance are directly tied to the drop off in productivity.  A recent labour study determined that the average productivity of a worker during an eight-hour days is 4.8 hours.  During a transition or period of change productivity drops to 1.2 hours a day.  The key is to move through the stages quickly to reach the “search for solutions” stage.  Using your customer as a barometer will help you more accurately judge the value of change.

Effective communications is important to facilitate change.  Informative, supportive and inspirational communications are important at different stages of change.  Change has a trickle down effect because managers hear about it first and go through the phases earlier than front line employees.  Follow the rule of repetition, which says you need to tell people multiple times before you can count on it registering with them.

It’s hard to see how any work gets done when change is always present.  But it’s not ok to keep doing things the way you’ve always been doing them.  Developing an organization-wide perspective on how change works and how to accelerate it is critical.  In today’s marketplace an organization gains competitive advantage by getting to be good at change and truly creating an “adaptive culture” that can adjust quickly and effectively.

A story about a group of monkeys illustrates how change is adapted into culture.  Scientists observed a  group of monkeys on a remote island.  They left a load of potatoes on the beach and sat back to watch their behavior.  Monkeys are curious so one bit into the potato, and the next day the monkeys were waiting on the beach for the potatoes.  On the third day in the scramble for the potatoes one dropped into the water, and to one monkey’s surprise it tasted much better when it was washed.   Instead of monkey see monkey do – the potato washing monkey was ostracized from the group.  The innovator monkey was isolated because he was different.  It’s important that our organizations aren’t like the monkey groups.  If we are truly going to embrace change we need to recognize that change or innovation will make us more relevant to our organizations and our customers.

So change happens and we need to embrace it as our competitive advantage for our employers and our businesses.  Change is Your Competitive Advantage is a great read to help stay on top and ahead of change.

Pam is Commercialization Director for RIC Centre. She is a regular book reviewer on the business program  In Business on Rogers TV. Watch Pam’s review  of  Change is Your Competitive Advantage

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