Developing a Change-Ready Mindset
‘The only constant is change’. At least, that’s how Heraclitus put it, leading me to believe that resistance to change was as common in Ancient Greek society as it is today. Whilst quite obviously a lot has changed since 570BC – medicine, architecture, Tesco Expresses – our aversion to change, especially when forced, has remained steadfast. Over the last few months I’ve been speaking to a great many business owners, young and old, about the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses. What has really stayed with me is how many have really resisted these changes and still yearn to get back to ‘business as usual’.
But what is business as usual? Can we go back to a pre-COVID method of operation? Even if we can, should we? Business owners have felt the full impact harder than many and for that reason I can understand the desire to sweep the whole affair under the rug and move on. However, in doing so we might just miss out on crucial opportunities.
The questions I keep coming back to are: if another global event occurred right now, how would your business be better able to handle the situation and what has been learned and implemented this time around to get your business into better shape? A big part of honestly facing up to those questions comes down to our own mindset and sense of control. When the pandemic hit and threw everything out of sync, the natural reaction was to cling onto what we knew and what gave us that sense of control and certainty, but very quickly it became apparent that wasn’t a viable option this time and nor will it be with future situations. The real issue here is that nobody truly likes being told what to do, especially not by a microscopic virus with absolutely no redeeming qualities and so, to come back to mindset, what can WE do to normalise our relationship with change to ensure it’s never forced upon us in future?
Managing change is a bit like going to the gym; the first time you go, it hurts and (speaking from personal experience) frustrates you when you haven’t dropped a stone by the next day. When you maintain a rhythm, the pain subsides and the benefits begin to show. So if we adopt the same relationship with change and by actively seeking it, stay ahead of the curve, we’ll slowly develop our mindset around change much like a muscle at the gym. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you my 5 steps for developing a ‘Change-Ready’ mindset.
- Analyse what is happening now? – Look at your business to really understand what is happening right now. Analysis tools like the PESTEL, competitor analysis, SWOT analysis are great tools to help you really understand the change. What are the indicators that change is needed: revenue has declined; customers aren’t buying through the shop any longer; or suppliers are no longer able to supply you?
- Identify the changes required – What needs to change within the business to resolve this issue? Do you need to look at alternative channels to market, such as selling online? Do you need to look at or alternative suppliers? Do you need to completely pivot what you do?
- Identify the obstacles – What issues are there with making that change? Once you’ve identified a possible solution, you need to apply your critical thinker and consider all of the obstacles stopping you form implementing that change – Lack of funds? Lack of customer validation? Lack of man power (or woman power)?
Now at this point it’s worth noting that, as a demographic, entrepreneurs and business owners are phenomenal at rapid decision-making, however, in some cases this needs to be checked. When change is forced upon us, there is a risk that these decisions could be made on the basis of emotion rather than reason. Even when change is unexpected, there is usually a little time to step back, analyse and identify. If we don’t, required changes can be blown out of proportion and become too general to have a lasting, meaningful impact.
- Assess the risk & cost of change – Determine the degree of risk and the cost of change looking at different scenarios to help you map alternative paths. Before progressing with any significant change you need to assess the risk and costs involved with adopting this new approach. How does this affect your overall costs? Do you need additional resources? Are there any risk involved?
- Plan the way forward – Once you have all the information you can then decide on a clear way forward and put steps in place to integrate that change. Break it down into manageable steps and make sure you are testing at every step of the way to make sure the change is working.
There are two forces underpinning these steps. Firstly the clarity of your vision: if you know where you’re going and what you want to achieve, you’re likely to accommodate change better, provided you can see how it helps you achieve what you wish to. You wouldn’t get in your car and ask your sat nav where you want to go, so don’t expect the same from your business. If your vision needs a refresh, make sure you prioritise that! Secondly, resistance to change: as we’ve covered, this is a challenge millennia in the making, so take some time to understand your own resistance to change, by questioning where it comes from and when was the last time change adversely and/or positively influenced your business.
The ironic thing about all of this is that resistance to change stems from a perceived loss of control and yet, if our vision is unclear and our self-awareness is lacking, the uncomfortable truth is that we lost control long ago.
Mindset, Managing Change and a whole host of other business support content is available via the Royal Bank Business Builder programme – a free virtual tool for new and established businesses. Open to everyone, Business Builder supports you to stay in control across a wide range of business topics, available 24/7. Sign up today by clicking here.