Recently I was given a book to read in the workplace. To clarify, everyone in the organization was given this book to read. Yes, it was one of those things where someone in management had the bright idea that if we all just read the same inspirational book, we could apply the principles articulated therein and drive success by leveraging new habits to achieve workplace efficiency through synergistic teamwork.
If that last bit sounded like I loaded it with corporate buzzwords, that’s because I did. I’ll freely admit that I am not overly impressed by people in positions of authority with mediocre ideas and no idea that what they’re spouting is meaningless and impractical drivel. Fortunately, the book provided to us is not meaningless and impractical drivel. Switch, a very well-researched and easy-to-read treatise on the mechanics of change, is actually a very good book.
If your employees are genuinely interested in change in their work lives (or personal lives), then this an excellent book to have them read. But before it will have much practical value, they will need to have already answered a more basic question. Why change our business?
This is a question to which the authors of the book can’t provide an answer. The leadership of the organization have to be committed to change for reasons of their own if effective change is to occur. Keep in mind that the reasons can be a positive or negative incentive for change.
Some reasons we might commit ourselves to changing our business are:
- Financial: Perhaps the organization is seeing a decrease in revenue or an increase in expenses with no return for them. Perhaps the organization sees an opportunity to make significant revenue gains or cut fluff costs out of the budget (e.g. excessive paper use in a digital age).
- Moral: Perhaps the organization wants to find a way to treat its employees better after getting a lot of negative feedback in exit interviews or surveys. Perhaps the organization wants to engage with more charitable organizations in the community or promote healthy living.
- Legal: Perhaps the organization has to face the problem of implementing a large body of new regulations that came out of state or federal legislatures. Perhaps some regulations have been reduced or removed and the organization can capitalize on a lack of red tape to accomplish business objectives more easily.
These are only a few general possible answers to the WHY question. But once we have chosen a why, it’s time to look at Switch and understand the HOW.
Stay tuned for the next post.