Decoding Tomorrow:
Futurism and Foresights Today

Foresights and ideas that expand minds and inspire a change of heart.

Selling Change When Business is Good

03 Mar 2012

In Australia, there is currently 14.5 billion dollars worth of outstanding, unclaimed, lost Superannuation. Why is this - cannot we be bothered caring more for our future retirement qualities of life. Doesn't the long term perspective induce a change, an effort, an initiative to find it, and boost its compounding benefits?

Maybe we need a shock to act, to change?

Well, according to research at Johns Hopkins University, 90% of coronary bypass surgeons go back to exactly the same lifestyle factors which led to their conditions within 2 years of the operation. Seemingly, even situations of life and death can prevent a majority of us to adopt healthier life styles. 

During the last few years of consulting with multinational organisations on their change management processes I have encountered many companies who are struggling with the concept of selling change to their teams. They lack the ability to generate buy-in

For some, change is critical - survival hinges on the adaptability of the organisation. For others, they realise that innovation is in their blood, but complacency because of positive, above market returns might hinder the sort of speed and chutzpah that defined the companies in their start-up heydeys. 

We know from personal circumstances that dealing with change can be difficult. For anyone that has lost a loved on, suffered a separation or even moved overseas, the change can be extremely mentally tough. Some of you may remember puberty - an awkward time of change at best. When you have to sell the concept of change to a partner, it can be even harder. For those of you who have ever tried changing a partner, not exchanging them, you know what I am talking about here.  Pitching the idea of more hours at the gym in January can be challenging to say the least.

Selling large-scale change, like changing the constitution can be even tougher. Only 8 out of 40 referenda in Australia have been passed in the affirmative. While some of these results depend on the inherent legal conservatism of the constitution, a lot of it also has to do with our view that 'if it ain't broken, don't fix it', or 'all things being equal, things are good, so let us stay with the status quo'.

So how do you sell the idea that when times are good, this is exactly the point in time to fix things for the future?

Let us have a look at this model that I collaboratively created with thought leaders from a cross-industry team at my Global Executive MBA Program at Sydney University.

Selling Change When Business is Good Anders Sorman-Nilsson

Toward the horizontal left of the model you'll notice that leaders are mostly focussed on tame problems. Problems that have been seen before. In some ways, they provide leaders with management as opposed to leadership problems. The instinctive feel is one of deja vu. Cut costs, reduce headcount, squeeze the supply chain. 

On the right of the X-axis, you have wicked, futurust oriented problems, that require new ways of thinking. These are problems hiterto unseen. These are vuja de problems of the future. To engage with these problems requires vision and thought leadership. It requires new strategy. 

On the vertical Y-axis, you will notice performance. Some companies on the top of the continuum have an above market performance measured in ROI, and others lag lower down the Y-axis where performance is lower. 

This model sets up some interesting dynamics, in the Prezi below you can gain an insight into the difficulty of dealing with change, and pitching the idea of change in the various quadrants. The proposed future-minded solutions are focussed on the top right hand quadrant, where performance is good, yet the organisational focus is largely on wicked, future-oriented problems. Unless innovation and disruption is part of the cultural DNA of these organisations, selling change and adaptation can be hard. 

Check out the Prezi and gain insights on how to sell change when business is good.

Feel free to add your comments and leadership experience via the Disqus commentary below.


*I'd like to thank Nevanka, Ron, Matt and Adam for collaborating on this instructive model.






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