Regardless of the reasons for change, reducing cost by forcing people to do more with less is a common approach. This rarely works for long. Instead, genuine change and innovation should be the focus e.g. partnering models, outsourcing, new technology, etc. People need to understand the change, internalise it, or they will resist and resent it.
Our innate aversion to change or risk, is mirrored by a perverse fascination and satisfaction when observing the failure of others. In German, it is called Schadenfreude. It reflects the relief we feel when misfortune occurs to someone else, narrowly missing us in the process.
We ignore these human behaviours at our peril as they can doom any initiative.
Transformation is a culture, it is continuous, it is ongoing. It is not a special process or a project.
Management faults and learning from nature
The biggest mistakes occur once executive management votes for change. Choices are made, often politically motivated, which promote corporate or industry inbreeding.
People and solutions are chosen specifically for familiarity, consistency and constancy. Challengers to the status quo are avoided.
Hiring and procurement processes reflect this blinkered approach, preferring people with years of similar experience within the same industry. So called ‘best of breed’ solution selection also limits itself in the same way and ends up being a contradiction in terms.
When we take this approach out of the business world and apply it to the natural world, nature quickly gives us its answer: extinction.
Why make a choice where transformation and innovation has not been demonstrated time and again under different conditions? It's akin to forgoing the fitness professional or personal trainer and asking an unhealthy friend to help you out with health issues. We wouldn't accept it in our personal lives and yet we do so in our professional lives.
This twisted logic was exemplified to me during a team meeting where an overweight manager was trying to persuade us of his health and fitness wisdom. The logic was, as an overweight man who had tried and failed to get healthy, he knew what didn't work. By a process of elimination, he claimed he knew what would work, despite evidence to the contrary.
In the natural world, success depends on a species ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions. Successful adaptations are incorporated and unsuccessful ones are either suppressed or ejected from the gene pool. All life relies on this approach in order to succeed and extend its footprint. The speed with which a species responds ultimately determines its success. The most successful species expand beyond boundaries and survive in very different environments, often simultaneously.
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