Becoming a Catalyst for Change

By | October 20, 2014

Kool Derby

There are still many people who are fine with the status quo. When presented with a chance to make improvements, they look the other way. Unfortunately, this attitude is counterproductive to growth, and may eventually land them on the sidelines.

To make things happen, you have to do something. In most cases, it’s not a matter of causing big waves. By taking small and incremental steps each day, you can be far down the road in short order.

The bottom line is that action leads to results.

Here are a few strategies to becoming a catalyst of change:

Keep an Open Mind

Getting things done requires that you are open to ideas. I read Straight from the Gut, by Jack Welch, ex-CEO of General Electric (GE), in which he mentions that he made the tough decision to stop making light bulbs. Back in the 1970s, GE was synonymous with light bulbs. However, Welch determined that sales for the product line were declining, and wanted to move the company in a different direction. Welsh noted that many hardline GE employees revolted, but he held his ground, and the multinational company committed its time and resources to other business segments, such as financial products.

Think Long-Term, But Do Now

While it’s difficult to plan more than a couple of years in the future, you must still consider a long-term horizon. The point here is that technology has changed what is meant by long-term horizon. In the past, it was normal to develop strategic plans that encompassed more than 10 years.

A long-term perspective means that you have vision. However, to make that vision a reality, you must do work today. In project management, you learn to hire the right people to do the right work at the right time. The right time to do work is now. There is no substitute for putting your head down and getting to work. Over-planning leads to molasses management.

Say “Yes” First

Change signifies doing something different, and the work might even be uncomfortable. For example, if you’re launching a new product, you can expect costs to increase, which means the organization is assuming additional risk.

Remember that risks can be both positive and negative. Of course, you want to prevent negative risks, such as product defects, but you want to accentuate and exploit positive risk. Advancing the use of social media is a positive risk in that you are using new technologies, which might lead to hiring of specialized resources. However, you can expect additional exposure and sales because of this effort.

I’m often surprised that many people are willing to settle for meeting expectations. The problem with performing at this level is that competitors will soon do more, and they will soon capture part or your entire market share.

It’s imperative that you realize that change is not optional. You either evolve with the market trends or become extinct. An employee is a catalyst for change by presenting innovative approaches to providing value to customers. While technology can help you initiate change, sustainment still requires human contact.

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