Managing Change and Innovation
Change is an inevitable phenomenon. Any attempt to preserve the status quo will lead to any company or aspiring businessperson missing many opportunities that are out there, many of which may not come around again.
The recession has given people the chance to stop and think, re-examine and begin to make changes that they may not have thought possible before. It is crucial for an organisation to innovate, but more importantly for them to be in a position to innovate. It is important for the leadership to recognise the need and respond to it quickly and in the correct way. They have to see where the changes need to be made, and make them. That said, however, they do need to be aware that change not only affects the way things work overall but also affects employees, suppliers, customers and other contributors to the business.
Managers have to make sure that they implement each part of the change process carefully, or else any plans, no matter how well strategised, will fail. There will always be resistance to change, but by following a few key steps, this can be reduced; the plans for change will have a greater chance of success, and your organisation can move forward according to plan.
To ease you gently into this article let us see what innovation means. There are some definitions that do this phrase justice and some of them are listed below:
“A new way of doing something. It may refer to incremental, radical, and revolutionary changes in thinking, products and so on”
“The act of innovating; the introduction of something new, in customs, rites, etc; a change in customs; something new, and contrary to established customs, manners, or rites; A newly formed shoot, or the annually produced addition to the stems of many mosses”
“Introduction of a new idea into the marketplace in the form of a new product or service, or an improvement in organization or process.”
“A new or variant product, idea, process or way of thinking.”
In the business world, there are five main types of innovation. They are:
• Business Model Innovation - This deals with the way business is carried out in terms of capturing and maintaining value and increasing market share
• Marketing Innovation - developing and introducing new marketing techniques including design, promotion and pricing of the product in question
• Organisational Innovation - this includes the formation of new business, business values and traditions, how the business operates and how it conducts itself
• Process Innovation - this is the introduction of a substantially improved product and its method of delivery
• Product Innovation - launch of a new enhanced product or service. This may include improvements in the way the product or service functions, its ease of use and its technical capabilities.
Factoidz has been going through a process of change and innovation. The one that is most applicable to Factoidz is business model innovation, organisational innovation with some elements of marketing innovation. Whatever the type, it must be done correctly or it will fail. This cannot be emphasised enough. So how is this done?
First and foremost, it is very important to emphasise and explain the need for change to all parties, and the key to this is communication. A balance does have to be struck in this area. Too much negativity and people will become discouraged; too sedate and there is no motivation to change. No communication is a huge no-no. It is better to have a lot out there and then people can 'choose' what they want to know rather than having very little or none at all. Without the cooperation of your employees or important stakeholders, the process will grind to a halt or be limited in its success and effectiveness. Tell the people involved what is happening; they may have some ideas that you have not thought of. Do what you have to do to get them involved.
Secondly, it is important to learn how to deal with resistance to the change process. This section deals with this area. There are several ways that you can do this within your organisation.
• Training and communication - one of the most popular and effective methods of reducing resistance to change is to educate or inform them before the change is carried out. This can take the form of meetings, presentations, reports and announcements.
• Participation - As Kotter and Schlesinger (1979) said, "participation leads to commitment not merely compliance." If you involve the people who are resistant to change (or have the potential to resist), then they are less likely to create conflict.
• Support - This may appear to be the soft option but it is very important. Why? Because fear can sometimes lie at the root of resistance. This mainly involves listening when there are problems. This is something that you have to be proactive about. It can be time-consuming but effective in helping the process. It can be as simple as pointing out know problems and explaining how change will resolve them.
• Negotiation - this is the least popular as it offers inducements to any potential resistors. This can often be very effective if they are going to lose out as a result of change. However, it can be viewed as blackmail, so it is to be used as a very, very last resort if at all . . . .
Thirdly, motivate people by creating a shared vision. A vision is something that “helps to clarify the direction in which an organisation needs to move” (Kotter 1995) and thus gives the plans and strategy direction and it gives people the foundation to set goals and objectives which they can stick to.
Fourthly, keep communicating as it helps smooth the wheels of the process. Use suggestion forms, set targets and keep the momentum of the change process going. As Hendricks (1989) said "Good managers and leaders take action and encourage others to do so”--so be proactive in seeing and dealing with obstacles that stand in the way. There will be many, some of which are unforeseen, so always be prepared and innovative in your problem-solving, to the point of back-tracking in some areas as necessary.
Lastly, consolidate the change and show people how it has positively changed the way things are. Review. Evaluate.
Leaders have to be proactive, determined and persistent when it comes to change. Change can be hard and can take time. However the key to managing it is making sure that the lines of communication and therefore cooperation are open. Manuals full of procedures do not guarantee success, but community spirit engendered by honest and open exchange of ideas and personal interaction provides for greater understanding, and therefore acceptance of change. So once everyone gets on the same page, let the good, innovative times roll . . .
Take care and God bless....
Ngozi Nwabineli © 07 January 2010