In Action, Change

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

Not too long ago I was visiting with a manufacturer who was talking about the way they provide customer service.  Eventually the group came to the conclusion that their customer service was not meeting an acceptable level in their customers’ eyes, and that certain things needed to be addressed.  This seemed like a good discussion, except that after agreeing on all the things that needed to change, the leader stood up and said, “Well, hopefully that stuff comes around before too long,” and then they all left.

Needless to say, I’m not optimistic that their service will change.  That happens to be an extreme example, but the reality is that there are a lot of similar things going on in businesses everywhere.  Talking about change, identifying issues, talking about potential solutions – that’s the easy part.  The problem is that talking about them doesn’t fix them.  You actually have to do something about them.

Quite often when we’ve finished facilitating a management team event or planning session, the CEO will come up and ask us, “So do you fee like it went well?”  I used to answer yes or no, but no longer.  Now my standard answer is “Ask me again in 90 days.”  It’s not enough to just talk about change, or to have some brilliant strategy session, or to brainstorm solutions.  At some point you’ve actually got to make the change happen.

I think part of the reason the company I mentioned above did what they did is because they just don’t know how to go about making change.  Next time you are trying to implement change, ask yourself this:  Do we have a consistent approach or methodology to change?  Do we have tools or processes that have been proven to deliver results?  Or are our change initiatives haphazard & lacking focus?  Unfortunately, too many businesses fit that last question.  Every time they have the opportunity to make change it feels like a completely new experience.  The only thing about the process that’s familiar is that it usually ends in failure.

How does you business make change?  Do you just hope something happens?  Or do you have a process you trust to get you what you want?  If you don’t have a dependable change process, you’re just leaving change to chance.  Good luck with that.

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