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Change Enthusiasm: One Strategy to Nurture Organizational Resilience and Adaptability

Imagine if you will a calm, placid pond. The surface perfectly emulating its surroundings through a mirror reflection. Now imagine a boulder being thrown forcefully into the pond. See the huge splash, water displaced, waves crashing, and ripples spreading across the entire pond’s surface. Continue envisioning as slowly, over time, the surface regains its smooth, mirror finish, water gently lapping against the boulder’s crest just above the water’s surface. The boulder has become integrated into the pond, presenting new surfaces for moss and vegetation to help sustain the pond’s organic ecosystem.

Now imagine: The pond is your organization and the boulder is any big change or shift. When the pond’s surface is calm and smooth, it represents your organization operating at its most efficient…everyone empowered and inspired to deliver their workplan with excellence. The boulder strikes, the waves and ripples ensue, representing the organizational unrest that comes with the introduction of major change (e.g. organizational restructure, integration of new systems, or merger) across any and every industry or business. The agitation of the water represents that tumultuous emotional landscape of change. Consider the time required for the pond to fully regain it’s calm, mirror finish as the time your organization remains in unrest prior to 100% change adoption. Once the boulder is integrated, or the change 100% adopted, the fruit of the change is free to flourish. In the case of the pond, it’s a flourishing of vegetation and ecosystem health.

Today’s truth is boulders are being dropped left and right. Rapid change is impacting nearly every industry vertical. Change is happening and will continue happening as individuals and industries alike continually evolve. Innovation will continue to disrupt. Businesses will continue leveraging newer and newer systems to increase efficiency. Learning curves will expand and contract with the ebb and flow of growth. Growing pains will continue to be felt. Frustrations will ensue. These are inevitable and undeniable.

A supplemental truth is without critical mass of Change Enthusiasts in a given organization, or those everyday rockstars who quickly adapt to change viewing it as opportunity to evolve, the few who do quickly adapt to change are heavily leaned upon by leadership seeking to reach 100% change adoption. This heavy lean at times can push even the most resilient individuals past their breaking point. As a result, they end up leaving when they’re needed most. Trust me, in my Corporate career I was nearly one of them.

The question becomes what will your organization do with the undeniable and inevitable frustrations of change? How are you nurturing a culture ready to view those frustrations as signals to lean into the evolution, rather than disengage into the downward spiral thinking of ‘this sucks’ and ‘things were better the way they were’? How will youmanage the crashing waves brought on by the boulders of change?

I was recently chatting with a good friend and Junior Partner at Mckinsey & Company, Bharath Aiyer, on this very topic. Mckinsey & Company is one of the world’s great merchants of change. In his many years of consulting with McKinsey, integrating change amongst his client base, Bharath says that “only 10% of successful change adoption is about know-how. 90% is squarely centered on a client’s motivation and willingness to embrace the change.”

What if you could more effectively influence that 90% factor of motivation and willingness? Going back to our analogy, as opposed to managing the waves, what if you could significantly reduce their size from the start? The size of the waves, the magnitude of the disruption, is largely dependent upon the make-up of the pond, right? A shallow pond won’t splash as much neither one thick with mud. Well, the same is true is for an organization. The magnitude of unrest is largely dependent upon the make-up or consistency of the organization…the culture of the organization. The higher the level of resilience and adaptability ingrained ahead of any major change, the less time spent in unrest. The less time required to reach 100% change adoption. The less time required before the fruit of the change can begin to flourish.

This is what the strategy of Change Enthusiasm™ makes possible. It is a mindset of adaptability. It is a mindset that when practiced, presents a sense of excitement for every change challenge. It is a mindset which enables those who practice it the ability to see the value of change, thereby quickly engaging in the opportunity to evolve in the face of frustration. This is why I’m so inspired to be leading this work. This is why I’m so grateful for the success stories of my clientele. The simple truth is in today’s dynamic times, you will lose in business without the cultural cornerstones of adaptability and resilience. Whether it’s through integrating the strategy of Change Enthusiasm™ or other means such as strategically hiring those who embody these attributes, organizational resiliency and adaptability has become and will continue to be a business imperative.

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