Organizational change management

From government policies to the ebb and flow of the economy, the world is changing so quickly it can be hard to keep up. When you own a business, this rapid pace of change can feel overwhelming, and you might struggle to adapt your business to a constantly-shifting environment.

All seven triggers of business crisis center on change; a shift in competition, technology, culture, economy, clientele, staff or your own life circumstances can all signal a shake-up for which you must be prepared. Change is inevitable, and you must learn to use it to your advantage. One of the most powerful tools you have in doing so is organizational change theory, which says that, to remain nimble in the fluctuating world of business, you must stay focused and flexible. By incorporating organizational change management into your business practices, you can not only survive change, but master it.

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What is organizational change theory?

Organizational change theory addresses the processes organizations utilize to adapt to shifting environmental and organizational influences. Organizations remain adaptive to change by adjusting their structures, strategies, operations, technologies and even company culture. There are many theories of organizational change, many of which draw on psychology and sociology. For our purposes in discussing organizational change management as it applies to business, we will focus on psychology-oriented organizational change theory.

Effective organizational change management requires flexibility

Think for a moment about the practice of martial arts. Even as a spectator, one cannot help but be transfixed by fighters’ dance-like techniques in dodging and sparring unpredictable opponents. The more flexible the fighter, the more readily he or she can roll with the punches instead of being overcome by them.

Renowned martial arts master Bruce Lee offered a sentiment entirely relevant to business owners seeking to master organizational change by learning to go with the flow. He said, in essence, to be like water seeping through the cracks of a rock. Instead of being assertive or attempt to mold the rock, simply adjust to the rock. In this way, you will find a way around or through the rock. As a business owner, when you embrace this advice and accept the fact that change and adaptability are part of running a company, you’ll build rolling with the punches into your organizational change management repertoire.

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The power of innovation in organizational change management

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What is it about innovation that is simultaneously inspiring and unnerving? It’s the power of innovation to create something from nothing, to solve the “unsolvable,” to hone the psychological strength necessary for overcoming any challenge.

Innovation can also generate the fear that we’re somehow unable to rise to the challenge of succeeding against what might seem like impossible odds. Yet, to really master organizational change management, you must realize that you hold immense power to grow your business exponentially and add unparalleled value to your customers’ lives. You must confront your fear of failure and realize that you have all the creativity within you you’ll ever need. Realize that change can be a transformative force for your business, and commit yourself to embracing change. Most of us don’t change until we have to, resting on our laurels until change upends our comfort zones. Don’t let the fear of innovation rob you of your potential. Instead, resist complacency, and you’ll become primed to get ahead of the game.

The importance of energy in organizational change theory

Can you imagine competing in a martial arts tournament if you didn’t have any energy? It would be difficult to get through the match, much less win it. The same goes for business and organizational change management. Running an adaptive business requires staying on your toes, and staying on your toes requires keeping your energy level at its highest. Instead of being at the mercy of your energy level, you can become its master by learning to harmonize your mind and body to achieve your peak state. Living at your peak is where you’ll become energy rich instead of energy poor, equipped with all the drive you need for transformative organizational change management.

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Energy is contagious

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As a business owner, it’s not just you who benefits from developing an energetic state – your customers and staff also benefit. Take Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh as an example. As a company, Zappos is known in corporate circles for its playful and even zany company culture, as well as for its unyielding commitment to customer satisfaction. Even more important is the fact that Hsieh reportedly vowed to make the happiness of his staff, customers and vendors a priority, embracing their “energy” as a driving force of Zappos’ success. In doing so, Hsieh was able to transform what Zappos was offering its customers: shoes and a vital, palpable energy. Thanks to this innovative approach, Zappos now enjoys not only record profits, but also a fiercely loyal customer base and committed staff. Remember, you do not need to fit a corporate mold for organizational change management. As Steve Jobs said:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

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