Tag Archives: Momentum

Do Companies bring Change by choice or under compulsion of a crisis?

Is Change not Charismatic? Source: http://www.flickr.com/

“Change” is the most celebrated word across the world – from individuals to communities, corporates and countries! But, how serious are we, when we say “Change”?

Change encompasses innovations, ideas, redefining, reviewing, restructuring and redeeming! Change represents a dynamic state and breathes new and fresh. Catch phrase of nearly every celebrity is “Change is the only constant in universe!” Such splendid is the significance of change; but unfortunately it is seldom understood in its entirety!!

If companies are not changing proactively, then they face decline in 5 stages, as per Jim Collins, author of best seller “Good to Great”:

  1. Hubris born of success
    Great enterprises get insulated by success, though momentum already set in carry them forward while their leaders lose discipline and make poor decisions. This stage kicks in when people of these companies become arrogant and believe that success is their entitlement!
  2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
    This stage comes, when companies start to think we are great and we can do anything! They go for more scale, more growth, more acclaim and all what bring pat on their back from those in power. All these happen in undisciplined and reckless manner.
  3. Denial of risks and peril
    At this stage, internal warning signals begin to mount but external results of the company remain strong. Management explains away disturbing data or declares difficulties as temporary.
  4. Grasping for salvation
    Now, decline of the company becomes visible to all and talks of salvaging begins.
  5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death
    At this point, enterprises start to face threat of extinction. They struggle to survive.

Paradoxically, most companies are unaware of their decline that creeps in during 1st three stages! By the time crisis is visible at 4th stage, they are already deep into the same!!

General Electric and Toyota Motors of Japan are some of very few companies, who have been proactively changing and hence ever thriving. Apple Inc., Intel and Samsung are among those, who did dip to stage 1 or 2; but bounced back by quickly by adopting changes. IBM, HP, Xerox, Merck and Numec were iconic companies at one stage but fell to stage 4; however their leadership showed courage to stage a comeback. However, one time icons like General Motors, Ford and BlackBerry are among those, who have been languishing at stage 4 for substantial time and no one knows whether they would ever be able restore their old glory. On the other hand, one time gems – Arthur Anderson, MCI WorldCom, Pan Am, General Foods Corp., Compaq, RCA etc. went down to stage 5 and became extinct!

It is apparent that most company may clamor and claim for change proactively, but they actually change only when they are in crisis and hence, run risk of not reaping fruits of change and chance of their success is odd.

It would be highly interesting to know that even decline of a successful individual happens over 5 stages:

  1. Getting overwhelmed by success and becoming opaque to realities – superiority complex!
  2. Clamoring for more successes, ignoring steps followed to climb initial success – overconfidence!
  3. Denial for presence of defects and difficulties – arrogance!
  4. Start to worry about increasing woes – anxiety!
  5. Loss of identity – condemned!

What does above scenario reveal?

Change under crisis is compressed but quick!

A crisis brings do or die situation! At any scale from nations to natives, under crisis, one either swims or sinks!!

It is ironical but true that the brink brings out the best or worst. Changes under crisis are costly but very quick. History shows that great innovations, ideas, courage, cohesion and all what we call as Change came about during wars or setbacks.

Here below are pros and cons of bringing change under crisis:

  • Crisis presents a binary situation – bounce back or get banished.
  • Changes, which happen, are costly, compressed and concentrated, since focus is on coming out of crisis. These changes are often not wide spread.
  • A by-product can often be good momentum to progress, which continues beyond a crisis. That is good.
  • But all of above may not be good enough to change character or DNA of country, company or individual.
    This poses high risk for entity or individual to go into cycles of successes and setbacks.
  • One of the most serious implications is while in crisis people tend to lose balance and belief in good. Prudential principles and practice can take a back seat or beating! 

So, crisis is a great initiator or destroyer, but not a creator! Creation of new or different comes only post extinction!!

Changes by choice are expansive and elite!

Changes by choice means changing proactively through contemplation, self-evolvement and self-drive! Doing it by choice brings ownership and motivation.

Change by choice is no longer a change by charter, as happens under crisis; instead it becomes a change of character and culture!

Often companies or individuals, despite good intention to change by choice, trip midway because their attempts to change is non-inclusive. Look at some examples, which are doomed to failure:

  • Change in favor of empowerment; but not having trust on who to be empowered!
  • Resolving to be sensitive to employees, but with lack of empathy!
  • Promising fairness; but not being free from biases!

So, when change happens by choice and is inclusive and expansive, then it is sustainable and supremely beneficial from all aspects!

So, why not change by choice, instead of waiting for crisis to coerce us?

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Practices give repeat/peak Performance; but Breakthroughs come only when same are broken!

Good practices are great to give repeat and consistent performance. But these by themselves cannot enable breakthroughs or innovations to improvise further. If that was to happen, you would have already got those! If you think that laid-down “practices and processes” alone would give you best results at all times to come; it may be your pipe dream!

Progressive approach and attitude demand that unless old order is abandoned, a new and better one cannot be ushered in. Individuals, professionals and companies not doing this would get out of sync with trends and times, get in peril or even perish!

Proven Practices needed for Peak Performance!

It is important to evolve and establish practices and processes in any organization or institution. Then, these have to be implemented to check that same work and deliver results or else need to be modified, until these become proven.

Thereafter, the performance can be driven to the peak, since:

  1. Everyone has clarity of direction.
  2. Coherence and consistency are driven automatically across organization.
  3. It fosters team spirit.
  4. It encourages disciplined approach.
  5. It builds up experience and expertise in optimum time.

So far so good and performance of individuals, groups or organization would reach a peak. You can sustain this peak for a period – I would term it as an optimum time, beyond which trouble would start to stare at you!

Peak Performance is also a starting point of Problems!

  • Beyond peak, where do you go? You can only go down! This is true to happen, if an organization has peaked its performance with given set of practices and processes.
  • Individuals and management would get in comfort zone.
  • Complacency would descend.
  • Erstwhile Excellence would entice Adversity.
  • Organization tends to become sluggish, lose its momentum and lean character!

Therefore, proven practices are good till we reach a peak or steady state; beyond that these would bring issues and ills!

Break proven practices to reach another peak!

Practices or processes invariably have 2 parts – one which has no alternative or option. Evaluate this part very carefully and once satisfied that there is truly no alternative, retain it. Then, we are left with second part, which has to be broken, given up or relinquished, especially after peak performance has been attained. We need courage to do this!

It is rule of nature that –

Every system has 2 sections – one with no alternative; so discover and retain it. The other one has an alternative; so relinquish it, especially after peak has been attained”.

If we follow the above rule, we would see the path to another peak opening up!

Reason for which you relinquish becomes source of your renaissance

This is the secret behind from where “the source of new ideas, inspiration and innovation in most people” comes in. Reason for which you relinquish certain things that you have been doing or living with, becomes the focal point of your revival, redefinition, rediscovery, rejuvenation, restructuring or resurgence!

If we look at emergence of famous leaders and legends, we would find that this is true; examples – Mahatma Gandhi, Steve Jobs and several others.

Therefore:

  • Breakthrough in your business or profession or pursuits would come, if you break away from that part of current practices and processes, you don’t need to retain.
  • You can best discover or design a new product, when you genuinely decide to drop existing one.
  • You can cope-up with new challenges, if you do not cling to old customs and traditions, which are not indispensable.
  • You can’t innovate, unless you renovate your current practices and procedures.
  • You can’t discover truths, unless you discard myths on which your beliefs hinge.

So, the game needs to change, when you reach steady state or peak with your current perspective.

The reason, for which you need to break prevailing practices, also becomes reason for your breakthrough!

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Our Comfort Zones not only create Inertia; but also inhibit Efficiency & Growth!

Psychologically and biologically, we are always tempted to create comfort zones at work as well as in personal life and our natural tendency is then to live in those! Our comfort zones are actually the cause of our inertia, inefficiency and inadequate growth.

When individuals, management included, in companies start creating comfort zones, the result is unwieldy systems, structure and processes, rendering them uncompetitive. That is when companies have to go for costly ways of restructuring, reorganization or reinventing themselves!

Why we fall prey to inertia created by comfort zones

  1. We like path of least resistance.
  2. We talk of challenges; but hesitate to walk the same.
  3. We have implied liking for gap between our desires and drive.
  4. We relish things on a platter; that’s what comfort levels can provide.
  5. We are mostly risk averse and hence like to wander on roads most traveled.
  6. We carry false notion for developing expertise by only doing repetitive activities over a long period of time, which is devoid of challenges and instead develops comforts.
  7. We like Change; but don’t like to change ourselves!

What we crave and create, we own and don’t want to abandon i.e. comfort zones; this is what invites “inertia in our thoughts and actions”.

How inefficiency and stagnancy creep in

Comfort zones are big barriers to achieving higher efficiency and growth.

  1. Comfort levels are invariably coupled with complacency. So, people like to perform same function or work same way, they are used to do. They do not seek or even see areas to improve.
  2. Every activity or function has 2 parts – (a) what needs to be performed on a repeat basis and (b) what can be changed and done differently.
    Part (a) has possibility to execute faster through use of tools, methods and/or experience. But, if one is in comfort zone, he/she would be averse to apply the same, as mentioned under point 1 above.
    What is far more damaging is reluctance, which comfort zones create against implementation of part (b)! It is this part, which brings new ideas, innovation and usher in real change.
    When part (b) remains dormant, it drowns companies or individuals into gross inefficiency and ineffective growth and development!
  3. Rut of routine and repetition make leaders to lose their luster!
  4. Comfort zones are like cancer, which would only spread, unless cut away.
  5. Comfort zones are the cause of illusion that direction is right and drive is smooth.
  6. Companies and cadres lose momentum and rhythm; therefore, they are no longer vibrant and agile.
  7. Being devoid of Change and Innovations, all stakeholders would go downhill and degenerate.

When we are aware of consequences, why we still crave for comfort zones!

There are two main causes:

a. We constantly live in fear of known or unknown. It is because of this that we humans have become habituated to save our skin, seek safe routes and create secured environments!
Above succumbs most of us to tested and tried things. We start to relish things, which are routine and repetitive! That is how we develop inherent inertia and invariably resistance to Change!

b. This is strange; but true! It is easy for us to be complicated; but difficult to be simple. Therefore, we tend to complicate matters, methods or means, rather than simplify the same!

This is rampant across the globe. Such complexities make us to spend more time and energy in doing our things, test our patience and create fatigue. Feeling of comfort comes in when we gain experience by doing or executing these over number of times or we discover some steps to do these faster (which is actually not a simplification; but using familiarity for faster actions).

Comfort zones are nothing but emotions of ease in execution, which arise from past experience; but these are not necessarily efficient and are barriers to new Ideas and Innovations!

How to kill or come out of comfort zones

  • Contrary to your belief, comfort zones provide only temporary relief. It is the constant drive for Change, which provides continuous thrill. So, you have a clear and only one choice – cut out comfort zones!
  • Comfort zones would eventually kill or throttle your career.
  • These can enhance your experience; but not efficiency.
  • Preference for little constraint over comfort would always pay you.
  • Shed away your emotions for comfort; just capture experience or knowledge, which past instances have created. Your inertia would vanish, if you truly do that!
  • Very important to know is that it is easy to complicate matters; but difficult to make those simple.
  • Simplification brings elegance and efficiency.
  • When we reinvent, we actually convert complicated things into simple ones; not other way around.
  • Put stress on simple thoughts and approach, actions and executions. That would bring you out of your comfort zones and make you:
    • Agile
    • Vibrant
    • Innovative
    • Courageous to traverse on roads less traveled and discover how your dreams become realities!
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