Leading Change with Foresight for Growth
by Jennifer Bryan and Steve Wells
The world is increasingly subject to significant change and while the focus is often on the potential implications of exponential technology developments like artificial intelligence, robotics, adaptive manufacturing, augmented and virtual reality for example, political, economic, and social change are also happening at break-neck speed. This range of future forces—together with the current pandemic—act on life, society, and business and add to our personal and organisational sense of complexity and uncertainty.
In the past, we have been confident in our predictions about how the external environment is evolving and been able to come to consensus about the way ahead. Increasingly we are far from certain about how the outside world is evolving and are less able to reach consensus about how to proceed. It's this situation that we believe calls for a new focus to leading change in organisations, and that’s not easy. There’s a temptation to always do what we’ve always done. But then we get what we’ve always got; except the reality is that the world moves on and we risk being left behind.
Change management is about people and this statement of the obvious too often gets lost in over-complicated methodologies and technology focused approaches to change. Leaders get seduced by the glitter of the gizmo and forget to pay attention to the ordinary, every-day needs of the people who will make the technology sing. Typically the people side of change is an after-thought and noticed only once things are not working as planned.
With the current environment especially, a number of questions arise concerning the nature of change and the human face of change. There needs to be a new mind-set to accept and embrace exponential change, to do so with more than an eye on plausible multiple technology-centric futures, and enable a more human-centric future.
Are we building a change programme that takes us toward a single, perhaps preferred future, or to help us prepare for a number of potentially different futures? Building flexibility, agility, and resilience into change programmes by exploring plausible scenarios is crucial for the future growth of our enterprises and the wellbeing of employees.
Using the ABChange Model in the context of these different future scenarios enables leaders to generate a pathway that includes the people and ensures they are taken along this journey of change.
This approach ensures an organisation’s “greatest asset” is paid proper attention to whether changes are seen as radical or incremental. It marries the person and the change task together in the different future scenarios.
Many leaders find leading people through change intimidating because there are emotions involved, sometimes difficult conversations, and it takes people out of their comfort zones. With the current environment, we have all been very much outside our comfort zones for a whole variety of reasons. So, bringing together two frameworks that enables us to plot out plausible futures and how we can lead in future, gives leaders the ability to really focus on the priorities for the business to not just survive but to generate growth.
Jennifer and Steve will join Professor Bernd Vogel for our next Henley Challenges session on 12 November. For details and to register, visit https://live.henley.ac.uk/events/42539. You are welcome to bring a colleague or friend if you think they could benefit from this session.