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The Death of Change – Part 2

who_killed_changeToday on The Bigg Success Show, we were happy to visit with John Britt. John is a partner with Mountjoy and Bressler, LLP where he helps organizations introduce change successfully. He is also one of the authors – along with Ken Blanchard, Judd Hoekstra and Pat Zigarni – of a great new book called Who Killed Change? Let’s get to the conversation …

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marylynnJohn, in light of what's been happening with the economy, it seems like change in organizations is happening pretty fast these days. So there often isn't time to go through the proper preparation. Any suggestions for when you have to implement change quickly?

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john brittWhen I think about the context of change, in my mind I see three overlapping bubbles – process, technology, and people. We have lots of good process people these days. If you’re not good at the IT stuff, you have someone that you call. The thing I wouldn’t leave out is the people. Sometimes, because of the pace of the change, the leaders make a decision and are heated up for the idea. Ken Blanchard has the top fifteen reasons why change fails. Number one is that people announcing the change think it’s the same as implementing the change. As a leader – just because you’ve worked through your personal concerns, information concern, and all those concerns to get you over the hump – sensitize yourself for when you announce it that those people to whom you’re announcing it are where you were three or four months ago. Or two weeks ago. Walk in their shoes. That doesn’t mean to not lead assertively and back peddle on what the change should be. Just sensitize yourself to help the people come along.

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georgeIn talking with a lot of entrepreneurs who are trying to get those processes going and introduce changes in their organizations so they can work on their business rather than in it, they struggle with the same thing I did. There’s a great quote in your book, “”Those who plan the battle rarely battle the plan.” One of the biggest transformations that I personally experienced – and I’ll give your partner Ken Blanchard a bigg shout out here because Raving Fans and Gung Ho really helped me with this – was thinking that it all has to be top down. The reality is that it’s much better if it’s bottom up. And I didn’t say bottoms up, just for the record!

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john brittI agree with you. But a caveat here that this is a bias of mine. It’s the leader’s job to decide what changes should occur in an organization. That’s why they get paid. That’s not to say they shouldn’t talk to their employees. But they should understand their business, their competition and the market environment. And then once they’ve made a decision to change, they need to be resolute in that decision. On the opposite side of the coin, they need to be just as flexible in how they make the changes. I’ve worked with too many clients where there’s this auditorium announcement: “Here’s where we were; here’s where we’re going.” There’s pushback because people need their questions and concerns answered. The leader extends the twelve-month implementation to eighteen months. Then it’s a 24 month implementation. We have to step up to the plate as leaders and business owners and say, “Here’s where we were, here’s where we are and here’s where we’re going,” but with the same passion be able to say, “We’re a team together and you guys are on the front lines so I’m going to give you a lot of flexibility on how we get there.” So rather than using the term “buy in” to a change – which connotes that we’re selling something – let’s look for their involvement and advocacy of the change.

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marylynnLet me go in a different direction. Here at Bigg Success, we say bigg success is living life on your own terms, whether you’re that traditional entrepreneur or work in the corporate world. George has more experience as the business owner. I have more experience in the corporate world. Believe me, I’ve gone through many of those auditorium style change announcements. Is there a tip you have or some suggestions to help us accept change better?

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john brittOh, so flipping the coin and being asked to change. One of my favorite bumper stickers says, “Change is easy. You go first.” Change is easy, ma
ybe, when you’re the one imposing the change, but maybe not so much when you’re being asked to change. People being asked to change have to understand their culture and the way their communication works. They have to be good citizens of their corporation. On the same hand, they have both the right and the responsibility in a change to ask questions. I read something not long ago where the author asserted that resistance to change might be overrated. He stated that, at any given significant change announcement, eighty percent of the audience is neither an advocate nor a resistor. They are anxious and reluctant. How we lead them will determine whether they become a resistor or an advocate for the change. If you’re sitting out in the auditorium and the CEO or COO asks for questions, you need to feel free to ask the question. It needs to be done in a non-threatening, professional way. But people have legitimate questions when change is announced. The questions are predictable. What is it? Why now? What’s wrong with the way we’re doing it? What about me? Will we be able to work together as a team? How will we implement it? Will we have tools, resources and training? Will I win or lose? These are natural questions that we have as humans. So the person being asked to change should ask their questions in the right setting. It might be that they don’t ask the CEO; they walk away from the auditorium announcement and make an appointment with their manager. That’s the key thing for most employees. I don’t think that most employees mind change; they mind being changed.

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georgeFor the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, we recently did a show about setting goals like John F. Kennedy. One of the things we didn’t share in that show was how, in his speech to Congress, Kennedy pointed out that if we were going to get people involved, it would mean giving up some other things. One of the things you point out in the book is one of the mistakes we make as leaders. We just pile on more. We don’t think, “If I’m going to have my people work on this, I need to let them give up that.”

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john brittYeah, we have to be realistic as leaders in changes. When we’re asking them to take on new training, new requirements, and new skills, there has to be some flexibility and latitude in the job that they’re doing now. In Who Killed Change, we talked about Budget. The focus of Budget was really on the allocation of appropriate financial resources for changes. But we have to just as sensitive and aware of the budget of time. We have to do a better job of budgeting peoples’ times when there’s a significant change.

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Learn more about John and the book Who Killed Change. We highly recommend this book to you.

Thanks John for sharing your time and wisdom with us.

And thank you so much for stopping by today. Please join us next time when we’ll discuss how to know that you’re ready to be an entrepreneur. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00479-091109.mp3

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The Death of Change – Part 1

who_killed_changeToday on The Bigg Success Show, we were happy to visit with John Britt. John is a partner with Mountjoy and Bressler, LLP where he helps organizations introduce change successfully. He is also one of the authors – along with Ken Blanchard, Judd Hoekstra and Pat Zigarni – of a great new book called Who Killed Change? Let’s get to the conversation …

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georgeThere’s nothing I like more than a good murder mystery. Now you may be wondering what that has to do with Bigg Success.

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marylynnThe book, Who Killed Change, is written as a murder mystery. John, could you do a quick set up for our audience?

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john brittWho Killed Change is a business parable murder mystery where Change gets murdered at ACME Organization. The detective – or you might say the Change Agent – spends the book interviewing the suspects. His lifelong work has been detecting Change murders. The thirteen major suspects are predictable – Vision, Urgency, Sponsorship, Budget, Communication, Culture – along with some minor suspects. At the end of the book, the detective gets all of the suspects together and announces who killed this specific Change.

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georgeOne of the things I love about this book, John, is the descriptions of the suspects themselves. For example, Ernest Urgency was late for the meeting with the detective.

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marylynn
I also loved that Victoria Vision had rose-colored glasses.

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john brittAs we wrote the book it changed somewhat. We actually had her alternating between rose-colored and Coke-bottle thick glasses. Sometimes that happens with Vision. Sometimes the person who has the vision for change has rose-colored glasses and doesn’t see the hard work that accompanies it. And then some people don’t see the vision at all. A healthy balance between those two, or maybe LASIK surgery, is the answer to that.

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marylynnAnother suspect is Pecs. He was on the Change Management Team. I thought it was funny – he had a bigg torso and bigg biceps, but then he had pencil legs so he couldn’t carry Change through.

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george
I picture that one character on Popeye. Was it Brutus?

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john brittIt’s a really good visual representation that happens in organizations sometimes. You have some of the key folks behind closed doors for three months getting ready for a change. They’re all built up; they’ve been working out so to speak. They’re all pumped up about it, but they really don’t work on the legs they need to carry the change out to the stakeholders. We describe stakeholders in the book in a non-traditional way. Most people think of stakeholders as people who have invested in something monetarily. We describe the stakeholders as the employees or those people we’re asking to make the change or that will be affected by the change. Organizations can do a better job of working on the legs so that we can carry that out to them and not just keep it in the corporate gym.

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georgeJohn, I have trouble changing my mind! So this was a really good book for me. We don’t want to give away the ending, but one of the things you did a really great job of explaining in the book is that change is circular. Would that be a good description? It’s very integrated. You have to get all the pieces altogether at once.

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john brittCircular is a good word. I might add that change is not a simple process. It’s not discreet. And it’s not linear. It’s really complex and dynamic. There are a number of key elements – or in our book, suspects –
that really have to work together in tandem to do things well and work together as a team to be able to make change effective. It’s interesting that up to seventy percent of organizational changes fail. Organizations put energy, resources, money, time and their hearts in these changes to only be successful thirty percent of the time. That’s okay if you’re playing baseball for the New York Yankees, but not in organizational life.

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georgeWe have a lot of small business owners in our audience. We think that small businesses are more nimble; maybe they can change more quickly. At the same time, when you look at all the hats that have to be worn – all the roles that have to be played – in order to make change work, you can see that it might be more difficult.

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john brittAbsolutely. Change is difficult for us as individuals. It gets more complex the more complex – the bigger – an organization is. But even for a business owner that has ten, twenty or fifty employees, working with and through people to ask them to abandon their habits and things that have been successful for them in the past, is a hard hat to wear no matter what size the organization is.

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Thank you so much for sharing some of your time with us today. Please join us next time when we continue our conversation with John. He’ll share the #1 reason change fails and how to prevent it. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00478-091009.mp3

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3 Questions to Make Your Business Better

question As business owners, we often hear that we have to work on our business, not just in it. It’s a concept that sounds simple when you say it, but how do you get started?

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A lot of entrepreneurs thrive on bending the rules so the starting point isn’t always obvious. You have to create the rules – the operating system – so you will have time to work on your business in the future.

So, early in your business, you work on your business by working in your business!

You begin to develop those systems that will make delegation to your future employees more effective. To do that, ask yourself three questions:

  • What is your vision of the perfect transaction?
    Map out a transaction from beginning to end. Think about what you want your customers to experience during each step of the process. This will include: your advertising, the first interaction, and the closing of the transaction. But don’t forget to include what happens internally to support the transaction and follow-up with the customer.

But here’s the interesting thing when you bring your customers’ perspective in – every customer probably has one or two little things that they really like. If you can gear your organization to make that one customer happy on that one point, you’ll probably thrill the rest of your customers by doing it! They probably want it, too. They just haven’t vocalized it.

  • How can you improve one thing one percent?
    Take your bigg picture and bring in all the things that your customers have told you and begin working on one at a time.

We have a confession to make … these three questions aren’t ours. They come straight out of Ken Blanchard’s Raving Fans. It highlights these three questions through a great story and we highly recommend that you read his great book.

So these three questions will improve your performance, help you develop your operating systems, and keep you focused on the most important people in your business – your customers.

Putting it to work

Now you want to improve one thing one percent. We saw a great example of this in action. A company had their entire process mapped out on the wall of their conference room.

They had all these sticky notes up on the wall. Each sticky note represented something they wanted to test – something that represented a potential one percent improvement. These suggestions had been made by customers and by employees.

That’s what makes this concept so useful. It’s a great tool to get employee buy-in.

They get on board because they can see that their suggestions are being considered. More than that, they may get tested. The test results may call for full implementation!

It makes your employees feel like they’re a significant part of something bigger. They are valued. That leads to bigg success with your employees. 

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Thanks for checking in on us today. Join us next time as we make a special announcement – a new beginning for Bigg Success. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00354-031909.mp3

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(Image in today's post by tulp)