“Every organization must be prepared to abandon everything it does to survive in the future.”
Peter Drucker in 1999
Well. This is about organization change, decision-making and change & people.
Ok. When was the last time you said “This isn’t working. We need to change it.”
Yesterday? Today? A minute ago? Well. It happens every day.
I would suggest the idea that people are ever satisfied with what is, and what surrounds us, actually defines us as a species. We are in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction. We are constantly thinking about how to change shit, improve shit and fix shit. That’s what we do and it doesn’t matter whether it is at home, in businesses or in Life.
We are constantly faced with changes every day and moving toward solutions to address the changes. In fact. I could simply call this ‘adapting’ <which may be more palatable to people than ‘changing’>.
In our heads we decide whether we want to sit still and bitch & moan or decide whether we want to impact the change happening around us with something positive. That is what we do <we people>.
This seems even moreso in business where 90% of us assume change is inevitable.
In 1999 Peter Drucker said:
“ We do not hear much anymore about overcoming resistance to change, which 10 or 15 years ago <in the 80’s> was one of the most popular top management seminars.
Everybody has now accepted by now that change is unavoidable. But this still implies that change is like death & taxes – it should be postponed as long as possible and no change would be vastly preferable. But in a period of upheaval, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm.”
Reminder. He said this in 1999.
Look. We are constantly faced with change. We are constantly being forced to adapt. That said. Frankly, we are not all change agents and, frankly, the majority of our own change is not dictated by us … we are simply forced to adapt to a swirling environment in which we are simply trying to exist <and prosper if possible>. If you think about it that way, your only opportunity to make a difference in the change comes in , well, maybe two ways:
I’d suggest those two things are connected. The more you become knowledgeable on the issues, understand the decisions being made by others, discern what society or culture is actually imbuing into the environment then ultimately you can actually be a part of the solution , and change, rather than be some frictional element slowing the change <some people would suggest the latter is becoming part of the problem>.
You need to be informed, ready to act and willing to act.
You do not need to be dynamic as an individual to be dynamic beyond your purposes.
I say that because we shouldn’t get grumpy with people who hesitate to embrace change. Shit. We all hesitate to embrace change because it means leaving some things we actually like behind. Therein lies the reason I opened with the Drucker quote.
“Abandoning everything it does.”
He didn’t say ‘abandon the bad stuff.” He said “everything.”
There is where I believe we people, and businesses, get change really wrong. We try and hold on to something. Mostly the somethings we believe is the good stuff. Yes. Some of it may truly be good, but how often does the current good look bad in the new changed environment. This often means we end up not only holding on to something that is worthless in the here & now, but most likely slows/slowed us down during the change <because we kept on holding on to it and trying to figure out how to actually keep it ‘good’> and, worse, it is now most likely gumming up the new environment in some form or fashion.
I would argue change becomes even tougher & trickier because we are just not comfortable abandoning everything if we need to.
Shit. Business book after business book and business school after business school pounds into our heads that efficiency is about consistent delivery and developing best practices and highly successful protocols & processes. All of that suggests “maintain.” Build and don’t abandon. The problem? We see them as foundational items and not as potential anchors.
Yes. That’s not really the point.
The point is that you have to be PREPARED to abandon everything, i.e., willing to let anything and everything go.
The point is ‘survival’ not ‘managing change.’ We seem to too easily lose sight of this survival view even when we hunker down and think about what we would be willing to do to truly survive. Regardless. We all know that young people and inexperienced people <and clueless consultants> will always be the first ones to say “throw it all out, it is wrong, begin fresh.” Well. rather than ignore I’m always prepared to listen to them. Just listen.
And know when to abandon.
And know when to hold on.
Look. All change is confusing to people. I am not suggesting it isn’t welcome or desired just that even when desired it can be confusing with a mix of emotions as the desire rarely matches reality.
I will note this is where leadership steps in. Good leaders tend to inspire simply by bringing people together around a shared purpose and a common set of values and motivate them to create value for everyone involved. They know their ‘north star’ with regard to a moral compass and are prepared to stay the course despite challenges and disappointments and focus change (and adapting) on value creation – not change itself.
Change leadership is not easy. As Teddy Roosevelt said … “in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood … who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions … knows in the end the triumph of high achievement” that can truly only come by leading well. I disagree with some people in that I don’t believe leadership has to be great by any stretch of the imagination … just do it well. And ‘do it well’ often means being prepared to abandon everything to survive.
In the end.
Being PREPARED to abandon everything to survive is an attitude. Abandoning the right things is a skill. And all of it is change. I actually believe most people like change (but hate the way most businesses & leaders talk about it & implement it) but this version of change, “abandon everything”, well, this is the scary type of change – its about survival. That makes it essential. And essential is scary. And maybe that’s my point. Change, when its natural & tied to adapting is less daunting. It feels evolutionary & good. Abandon all to survive feels “impactful.” That’s where leadership enters into the equation. Instill the energy to abandon all, yet, instill the attitude its simply adapting. Anyway. I believe people would benefit from viewing Life with an eye toward ‘abandoning everything’ just to assess what is most important but I believe it is ESSENTIAL to business.