Doing change work there always comes a point early on, when structural changes have been announced and are almost complete, that someone will say, “Okay, the change is done. Now let’s get back to business.” This is the moment when I tell them (after chuckling to myself) that now the hard work begins in earnest. When it comes to leading change, there are yard markers and milestones; but there is no end zone.
It is now almost cliché to say that change is constant. And, it is true. We need to adopt a change mindset that acknowledges this reality. When the change takes the form of a particular initiative (a reorganization, a merger, or acquisition), changing the structure or systems and processes is the easy part. The fact that some think that this is what change entails is indicative of what needs as much, if not more, of our attention if we are to lead change successfully.
Adopting a change mindset moves us to see change as normative and ongoing. A change mindset enables us to see that change efforts must address cultural issues and leadership and workforce development as well as structure and systems and processes. This mindset has built into it a flexibility and willingness to make adjustments to implementing change. It also has built into it an intentional and continuous curiosity about how people are engaging and performing in relationship to change.
Knowing that change is normative and ongoing also moves us to develop a skill set that supports our continuous work as change leaders. I think there are five skills we want to develop if we want to be adept at leading change.
Managing Complexity – We want to be able to find meaning in confusion, think strategically, and solve problems quickly.
Innovating – We want to be able to promote creativity and positive disruption.
Communicating – We want to be able to design, convene, and host necessary and important conversations.
Executing – We want to be able to set goals and objectives and direct operations to achieve them.
Transforming – We want to be able to generate awareness and promote growth in ourselves and others.
A change mindset and a solid leadership skill set will support us in leading change over the long haul. It’s vital that we are working toward this goal; because, change is never done. Getting back to business means getting ready for the next change. And the next. And the next. There is no end zone.