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Managing Change: Battling Complacency

(November 2010) posted on Mon Nov 08, 2010

An excerpt from the book Lean Printing: Cultural Imperatives for Success.

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By Kevin Cooper

Managing a conscious change process is difficult and not natural for people and organizations. It’s much easier to continue doing things the way they have always been done and not expend any effort on trying to act differently. Change can cause confusion, create stress, disrupt established patterns of communication, and generally be perceived as a pain by those who have to enact it.

Your goal in managing a change process is to minimize the negative energy around the changes and to create positive feelings for people who are part of the overall change process. Peter Drucker wrote, “One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it.” His point is that change is going to happen, and the only managers who survive it are those who actively try to stay in front of it. The environment around you is not static; your culture cannot be either.

Allowing too much complacency
Effective change managers create a needed sense of urgency to drive the change process. All organizations are capable of effectively changing into something different and better. Key to the process is management leadership in creating – or defining for the organization – a compelling sense of urgency to be something different.

While people and organizations may seem naturally resistant to change, they are much more willing to partake in a change process if they understand specifically what the issues are and what the desired outcome looks like and feels like. Managers play the key role in defining the vision of what the organization needs to look and feel like in the future to be competitive.

In the print industry today, there is certainly an abundance of issues to provide a needed context for change efforts. Some of these are: macroeconomic trends, many of which are negative; demographic trends in the use of print; substitution of print by digital media; social-media needs transforming communication modes; increasing competition among print providers for customers; and growing development of Lean initiatives as a catalyst for competitive improvement.