If change is the only constant then why do we, as creatures of nature, oppose it almost all of the time? Beside the fact that I am passionate about the earth, digital transformation (for the better) and technology, they happen to share a lot of things in common.

Problem Statement:

Humans by default are very inefficient and undisciplined creatures. We like to waste stuff like food and resources. Our social and capitalistic laws are mostly created to perpetuate waste, go against nature and oppose change, no matter whether it is for good or for the worse.

Why though? Is it because we are mostly motivated by our own needs? That is not such a bad thing, is it? After all “Necessity is mother of all invention”. However only a limited number of us use the adrenaline and channel it in a positive way to risk change for the better. Most of us love the status quo.

The Transformation:

Besides fighting numerous wars and destroying ourselves and the eco-system that we need for our survival, we are depleting mother earth of all its natural resources and we are doing it in the worst possible way – in order to expedite the damage exponentially. Some of us are only beginning to realize that this is unsustainable.

Doesn’t this seem strikingly similar to the culture of most of the big businesses, governments and organizations we with work with/for? Most of them are highly inefficient, dysfunctional and amidst the transformation; found to be warring amongst themselves. A lot of them are just using plain old brute force to slow down the inevitable digital transformation that is going to consume their functions and industries.

You can see these changes in industries like Energy (Solar, Wind), Retail (Omnichannel), Automotive (Green Cars), Telecom, and Manufacturing just to name a few. Here are some common drivers of major transformations in all of the above:

  • They strive to bring the best possible customer experience
  • Expedite go-to-markets
  • Efficient operations
  • Adopting the culture of change (the only constant)
  • Technological innovation is the biggest driver for most of the above changes
  • All these changes face stiff resistance from establishments to slow down the impending transformation
  • The reaction to change

We love our modern amenities, however we paid a heavy price during industrial revolution for the very same changes that have allowed us to enjoy the results. We love human rights and liberties (at least for ourselves), however we have fought for it throughout the history of mankind to achieve it. I guess, any transformation you are trying to introduce into your organization is bound to face stiff resistance within your enterprise; you probably already have experienced some of these symptoms:

Denial: Most of the time, if you introduce a new idea that has a significant ripple effect, you are met with people who smile and congratulate you on your findings, however never endorse it and try to avoid having a conversation with you as if you do not exist.

Obstruction: Change agents are the ones who persist, collecting more evidence, more facts, more actionable results. Then you go back with more vigour compared to others within the organization. Now you have become an irritant that wants to change the status quo. “Why create more work when we can get by with what we do every day” is the reaction from most. “Hey this is supposed to make our jobs easier!” – you scream from the inside. So they say, “Why don’t you read my lips!” Suddenly you are not the one invited to some meetings you were regularly a part of and everything you do is being met with backlash.

Rejection: Well you could care less! The cause is bigger than any individual. You take it to your boss, including your boss’s boss! These are the people who should never feel threatened by you or the changes you propose. But you are proven wrong again. Now you fear for your job and have a desk in the basement, like the stapler guy from the movie Office Space.

Partial Acceptance: Finally someone new arrives in the middle of your mission or upper management has been brought in to figure out the reason behind the stagnation. Why are the new breed of companies with less resources threatening to severely eat into your company’s revenues and may even threaten the entire business model. This new person is looking for honest assessments, fresh perspective, realistic change and someone with the work ethic and the determination to back up ideas with hard work, the ability to hone the idea with constructive criticism while keeping it realistic and expediting go-to-market. The new person starts providing you with resources and unites you with other likeminded people and lets you work on something challenging to perpetuate change in a smaller part of the enterprise that suddenly gains traction after the first few releases. Suddenly you get congratulatory letters from your clients for the fantastic experience. Your group wins some awards. Your colleagues and old boss who once shunned you, suddenly want to join the new “cool group”.

Sheep now have a new leader and direction – everyone wants to go to heaven as long as it does not have anything to do with dying. Soon you realize that the same people who shunned you at the beginning became converts; and the same people that welcomed your innovative initiative by you and your peers become the bottlenecks and slow you down. Why would you have not welcomed them? After all, every good initiative can use more converts, helping hands and believers. The cool group suddenly is carrying more weight, slowing down the agility it was once known for. Very soon, you – the change agent -becomes part of the problem. Nature is cruel, isn’t it?

The Lesson:

Lesson 1: Don’t ridicule or doubt yourself for being small. Small is a strength, staying small allows you to be agile. You have less baggage. In fact everything big starts out small. Including the transformation initiative that you have started. Don’t look for converts at the beginning; build a team of believers with complimentary skills, a unified vision, and the maturity to check their egos at the door.

Lesson 2: If you want a constant transformative change then the cool group has to stay cool! When you lead an army of sheep it is just a matter of time before foxes take you down. A lion leading an army of sheep can only lead for so long.

Make sure you keep the bar high not just for people who join the group but also for yourself. There has to be a constant need to remind people that slow down to up their game. After all a lion never forgets how to hunt. One fine day when you want to get out of the grind, just know when to bow out gracefully and take something else that you can be true to.

Lesson 3: When you are a lion for so long, hunting and feasting; at some point you will be hunted down. Just know it, accept it and be ready to go down gracefully in battle. Stick with something long enough to help it achieve heights that even you did not dream of. Know what your exit plan is and know when it is the end of something and the beginning of another. Make sure you have “the new” already cooking. Don’t become part of the problem, leave the chair for fresh new deserving blood and become the “the new change” somewhere else.

New world order:

We are in the middle of very transformative times. There has been quite a few of them that we have been part of or have heard of as children. However, none of them including the Industrial Revolution has had the velocity and the unpredictable impact that “digital transformation” seems to have.

If there is one thing that we have learned from history, it is that transformation and change will happen; the only choices you are left with are, will you:

  1. Resist the change and go down fighting. Which is not a bad idea – sometimes there are pretty disastrous ideas and other beliefs that are worth fighting for.
  2. Become part of the change. Be willing to transform yourself with times. Keep an open mind. Give the change a balance and direction that it can benefit from where the old guard is not hunted and devoured while welcoming the fresh new blood.

The choice is yours to make!

Thought Leadership: