Have you noticed the amount of change in the tools available to management over the last decade? We are talking about the tools managers use to influence change management challenges. This change management case study will discuss 7 challenges.
A good innovation leader creates an environment where traditions can be challenged.
The goal driving this change is to continue to improve productivity. But there are new challenges confronting today’s managers. These are challenges that cannot be solved with new management technology or tools.
An overriding challenge for most of today’s businesses is how to adapt, change, and innovate continuously and at a more rapid rate. In most of the businesses we work with and study, business leadership favors the status quo, change, renewal, and innovation. It is not hard to spot entire industries such as pharmaceuticals, advertising, and banking, where the incumbents are struggling to invent their way out of dying business models.
Let me tell you an interesting story of Alexander Fleming. Have you ever heard of Fleming?
When Alexander Fleming, a brilliant but sometimes haphazard scientist, returned to his lab after vacation holiday in 1928, he found his work ruined. A bacteria culture he had been growing was contaminated by fungus and, as it grew, it killed all the colonies it touched.
Most people would have simply started over, but Fleming was very curious by what had happened. And his curiosity caused him to switch his focus from the bacteria to the fungus itself.
First, identified the mold and the bacteria-killing substance, which he called “penicillin,” then he tested it on other bacteria cultures. Seemingly in a single stroke, Fleming had created the new field of antibiotics.
Is that how you see innovation? That’s how most of us see innovation. A flash of brilliance and Eureka! a new world is born. But not so fast.
The truth is far messier. In fact, it wasn’t until 1943—nearly two decades later—that penicillin came into widespread use and only then because it was accelerated by the effort helping World War II efforts.
But we need far better and faster results, don’t we? To achieve that, we need to discard old myths and deal with a process of change and innovation as it happens.
Truly breakthrough innovations are never a single event, nor are they achieved by one person, or even within a single organization. Rather, they happen when ideas combine to solve important problems.
The barriers from digital disruption, hyper-competition, and change are coming down at a rapid pace. In this environment, the returns on incrementalism are heading down while the premium on innovation and change are rapidly increasing. Business innovation and change are mostly afterthoughts, aren’t they? They are not activities that involve most managers even infrequently.
Let’s examine some of the detailed change management challenges in the last few years:
Change management challenges … employee engagement
The biggest management challenge faced today? Employee engagement hands down. Global surveys show that fewer than 20% of employees are highly engaged in their work. That says people are just not committed emotionally or intellectually to what they do on the job. In jobs where businesses need the intellectual capital for innovation and change, this lack of engagement is competitively untenable. A huge management challenge.
Change management case study examples … Process not tools
Tools and technology for innovation are everywhere, and the list is growing every day. They can help, but the real challenge is to build an innovation process that works for your team. And created and supported by the team.
The challenge of a natural leader is one that requires implementing a culture of participation. It is not necessarily the type of culture built into most of today’s businesses. But it’s key to remember that executives, managers and front-line employees alike seldom have trouble spotting emerging innovations. More often, troubles surround their ability to communicate these opportunities and challenges successfully to upper management and obtain the organizational buy-in needed to quickly and concisely respond. As a business leader, it’s important to think of innovation and change management as an ongoing, not occasional, activity. Organization-wide, you need to open yourself up to the possibility of change.
Change management case study … changing values and attitudes
Have you noticed the differences in the values and attitudes of today’s millennials? Lots of changes are coming. The Millennials now entering the workforce in large number will compel businesses to retool their legacy management practices. Their attitudes and values will help democratize the work environment and incent everyone to help create a strategy and offer inputs on critical issues. It won’t happen overnight, but with new management practices, it will happen.
All of us and especially business leaders find great discomfort in uncertainty. Because of global debt and economic struggles, uncertainty is more pronounced today than in the past. The sad news is that uncertainty leads to a short-term focus. Due to uncertainty, companies tend to shy away from long-term planning for shorter-term goals. While this might feel right, a failure to strategically plan five to ten years into the future can end up destroying value. Businesses must learn to balance the need for a more reactive, short-term focus with the need for informed, long-term strategies.
Reluctant to take risk
Decision makers need to make decisions, even if they don’t have perfect information. Even the most successful organizations and managers in the world are never 100 percent sure how outcomes will play out — and sometimes, they’re even aware that first attempts may well be disastrous. As Prussian military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz famously stated, “No good plan survives first contact with the enemy.” In other words, the second that you hit the battlefield, every variable can change.
So to succeed, you need to be prepared to meet those potential changes and respond in kind. To this extent, you need to experiment, prototype, gain hands-on learning and — whether speaking from an organizational or personal level — constantly be striving to acquire the experience, skills, contacts, insights and connections that will help diversify and strengthen your outlook.
Related post: Business Blog … Learning from the Best Examples
Change management problems and solutions … competition
Managers must understand a company’s competitive advantage and build a strategy that takes into account the competitive landscape. The importance difference you’ll note today is the speed at which your competition can change.
The new management challenges have the ability to influence your future negatively if left alone. Have you noticed that young companies are often filled with young management who have little to unlearn and meet these challenges head on? I wager that tomorrow’s best management innovators of change won’t come from the Fortune 500. What do you think?
Have a question or opinion to add in the comments section below? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
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Do you have a lesson about making your innovation learning better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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