Change is hard. It’s human nature to resist change, mostly because we fear losing something; or because it requires us to step outside of our comfort zone. In business, these fears and hesitations can sometimes multiply. We all have heard the saying: “We’ve been doing it this way for years.” For me, when I hear that, I almost always cringe. Part of me struggles with accepting change, but the other side of me is always wondering if there is a better way to do something. Surprise, there usually is. In this blog, I will talk about some of the ways we look at change and why developing a change-neutral mindset can be beneficial personally and professionally.
Naturally Curious: The Change Mindset
Some of us take more risks than others, and that will never change. I know some people who would jump off of something tall into a body of water, whereas I would rather wait until I see someone else do it, and others might say heck no altogether. We are all constantly doing risk assessments every day. Some of us, however, are more risk-averse than others.
For those of us who are resistant to change, how do we change our mindset? For me, I rely on my natural curiosity mostly because I am an Sc personality, which stands for Steadiness and Conscientious, according to the DISC profile. I like to analyze everything. I like to discover how things work and why they work the way they do. This type of curiosity will help you start to understand the “why” behind almost anything. Until you have those answers, you won’t be able to uncover the opportunities for change.
2. The “What If?” Stage
Once you understand the process in detail, you can start to match possible problems to solutions; or map out areas of the process where you could improve or simplify. Here is where my brain shifts to the “What if?” stage. This stage and mindset can be a bit tricky; it requires imagination but also restraint. But it helps me work through a series of “What ifs?” to determine some possible routes to a solution. You’ll need to be careful that you aren’t running too far in the wrong direction with these, so be critical of yourself, and at the same time, open to possibility. Disney’s Imagineers are some of my favorite examples of people who do this well. The What If Stage is a huge part of the creative process, which helps solve problems, or determine out-of-the-box remedies. This brings me to the next stage, collaboration.
3. Two Heads are Better than One
After you’ve had some time to develop some “What ifs” that you think are interesting or possible, take them to a team of peers or friends to help you determine their fit further. In my experience, these peers will help further extend and validate your discovery and help steer you away from the bad. Collaboration is a critical factor in navigating change. Once you have multiple people who understand your vision or idea, you will have more momentum to execute your ideas further into a plan for execution. In addition, utilizing the help of others will support you when fear of change arises. Execution is the last part of the change process.
Having a plan is the best way to help mitigate fears when it comes to change. Take the time to sit down and map out what you would like to see happen, while also looking for roadblocks or issues that may arise. This will help alleviate any hesitations because you’ll be ahead of most issues. That’s not to say that there won’t be hiccups or problems with change. There will always be a level of that in any endeavor. But planning for roadblocks eliminates problems later.
This approach is a rough framework that I use to help me navigate change or tough decisions, and I find that it works. Each individual will have to develop their own way, but to hear someone else’s point of view is a great start.
The Tech Multiplier
Our agency blends sales, marketing, and technology to help our clients achieve growth in their businesses. If there is one thing that I know, technology doesn’t care if you aren’t ok with change, or else we would still call each other on rotary phones. Technology is in a constant state of perpetual change by nature, so fighting it or resisting it is only digging yourself a deeper hole when it comes to business.
Having an open mind and curious exploration of the benefits of technology for business is where a lot of growth and speed can happen. I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand how technology-based solutions can help a business. Here are three examples:
- It gives teams bandwidth for other tasks
- Alleviates menial tasks which keep your employees engaged
- Provides historical data and reporting that can help keep you informed
Our approach to helping provide services and platforms is to give our clients an up-to-date tech stack. In addition, we also provide a rationale for why we are recommending those approaches. If you are reviewing a partner for this type of change, make sure they explain the why, as well as the what. This will help you decide if you want to have them help you with this change.
The Cost of Inaction
When I've talked to numerous business owners or marketing managers about changes in technology, process, or strategy, cost almost always comes up. While implementing new technology or business processes can be expensive, we often forget to think about the cost of inaction. If technology is constantly improving and changing, but we do not, a competitor or market entrant will often fill that void.
Now we all can’t compete with every new shiny toy that comes into the market space. But, there are many reasons to keep up to date with best practices. For example, it can help mitigate risk, help avoid loss of market share and aid in employee retention. When you are reviewing a potential business change, make sure you weigh the cost, as well as the cost of inaction. Sometimes doing nothing at all can cost a lot more than you think.
Change Isn’t Forever
The last thought I will leave you with is that change isn’t forever. If something doesn’t work out, you can always change back. This won’t be the first time you have to experience change, and it sure won’t be the last. Change is a part of growth, whether we like it or not. Learn to embrace a change mindset, and look at it as an opportunity to improve. I know it’s easy to chalk something up as time-consuming and expensive, but often it is a blessing and opportunity to improve.