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Shake Up Series

A four part series, launching each Monday, the Shake Up Series will focus on Old Reality myths and New Reality answers.

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SHAKE UP SERIES #4 (See #1, #2 and #3)

Old Reality Myth

An early success can do wonders – don’t try and rush major change all at once.

New Reality Answer

Early success is nice — ultimate success is critical. You don’t get to determine “how much” transformation you would like to try, the marketplace does. You don’t get to decide “how much” you need to do right away, the marketplace does. You don’t get to define “how big” a step you would like to take. The customer does.

If you are pushing for a fundamental transformation of the company, chances are it is overdue, critical to your future, and being demanded by the customer. Taking your time, taking baby steps, or trying to “contain the risk” is a typical organizational response that puts you on the edge of oblivion. Your customers will not wait for you to find or create small successes that will allow you to build momentum, which may eventually position you to respond to their immediate demands.

In today’s complex, rapidly changing world an individual or organizations capacity to change can neither be finite or a consideration in how, or how quickly one responds to the marketplace. People and organizations are going to need to change as much and as fast as the world demands — or they will be left behind.

These recommendations aren’t the right way to shake up a company. They are the only way to save a company for the moment...and the next moment...and the next.

SHAKE UP SERIES #3 (See #1 and #2)

Old Reality Myth

Determine a company’s tolerance for change and act accordingly.

New Reality Answer

Determine the customer’s expectations for change! It does not matter what a company’s tolerance for change is! Let’s say it another way: it does NOT matter what a company’s tolerance for change is! The need for, and pace of, change is dictated from the outside. It is dictated from the customer and the marketplace. In today’s environment you rarely have time to interview informal advisors, find and consult with cultural interpreters, build a consensus, or tip-toe around symbolic faux pas. You have to deliver what the customer demands — now!

Credibility is not determined by pace. It is determined by marketplace alignment. Too fast or too slow is not determined inside an organization. It is determined globally. Today’s pace demands organizations that move quickly, take risks, make mistakes, and innovate for the customer. If you have people in the organization at any level that are trying to slow things down...true change agents run over them, around them, or through them. Today speed is critical. It is critical to successful change, it is critical to organizational survival, as it is critical to the ability to deliver in the marketplace. Paying attention to or investing time in, a company’s tolerance for change is a red herring at best and is irrelevant and paralyzing at worst.


Old Reality Myth

Pay attention to the informal networks of an organization and make sure to win the goodwill of all, including executives and opinion leaders – and work within the established networks.

New Reality Answer

Create your own network for driving successful change! You do have to build a network and a case for change. The network, however, isn’t determined by the hierarchy, position, or title. It would make the process easier if the senior executive leadership team were on board and driving the change. They won’t always be, however, and change agents are going to have to drive the change anyway. Likewise, the network will be moved by the people with the right behaviors, not those with the right words. Additionally, it won’t be the network that will create the successful change; it will be the network that creates the critical mass that will create successful change.

The case for change needs to be based on factual, informative communication, not inspirational “this is going to be great” hyperbole. It also needs to be communicated loudly, continuously, and consistently throughout the organization. Lastly, and most importantly, the case for change needs to be tied to the business case. “How is this going to benefit the customer or marketplace?” has to be at the heart of any case for change.

 SHAKE UP SERIES #1 (go to the top)

Old Reality Myth

There’s nothing wrong with being humble and proceeding with caution when trying to create change in an organization.

New Reality Answer

Change agents care about the customer — not humility! True change agents are interested in the best outcome for the customer and the organization. They are convicted and determined. They usually don’t worry about whether they are perceived as interesting or interested. They are worried about results. This often puts them at odds with the accepted norms. They may seem brash, outspoken, and even disrespectful of the status quo or “how things are done around here.”

Understanding the DNA of an organization is one thing. Honoring the DNA for fear that you will be rejected is quite another. Smart change agents understand that there is an established way of doing things. In fact, they can’t suggest or create change until they know what needs to be changed. Honoring the “old way” for fear of rejection is a recipe for failure. Think about it, the current “DNA” is producing the current results, and obviously those results are not acceptable or you wouldn’t need to change. Besides, the system will always reject any change, simply because it is change. The current system is built to protect itself.