Change? From what…to what?

29Jan10

Today, change is relentless – the future is hurtling toward us – it is good to know the skills that will allow us to grab it.

questionmarks

When I headed a global Business Transformation consulting practice (way back in the 90’s), change management was one of our core competencies.  Transforming an organization takes people who know how to change effectively. 

As part of our research on change in organizations, we surveyed more than 100,000 people and asked the question, “would you be willing to change in order to help your organization?’  The response was almost 90% positive.  People were indeed willing to change.  However, in trying to effect major change as consultants, we discovered that people needed to know more about  “from what….to what?”  

They needed specifics so that they could internalize or personalize what changes they needed to make.  They needed to know the starting point and how it differed from the desired destination.  So they could take ownership of getting there.

Unfortunately, the organizations often were not very helpful in answering this question.  Examples of commons answers included “be more open to change”,” be more adaptable”, and the phrase that deserves to be in the Cliche Hall of Fame, “think outside the box”. 

People differ significantly when it comes to what they need in order to change and in order to lead others to change.  But everyone needs at least some idea of  “from what…to what.”  One good way to express the answer is to express it in terms of new skills.  

George Washington University, through its  Institute for Knowledge and Innovation, has released the results of a study they conducted on the most valuable future skills.  We have been told for 30 years now that the world is changing faster than ever.  That our skills become outdated faster than you can say “powerpoint”.  The list of  skills identified by GWU makes for a nice tool you can use  to ask yourself how you and your organization compare to the study’s findings.

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