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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

Certainly in this list you can find several topics you can relate to in your business environment. The key to creating a sense of urgency, much like in communicating about your vision and mission, is in the abundance of communication you need to make on the topic. A state of urgency should also be contrasted with a state of fear. Fear can debilitate employees while your goal here is to inspire positive action. There can be a fine line in employees’ eyes between an issue inspiring urgency and action, or one that invites fear and inaction. Clearly, you want to avoid creating fear while you inspire change action through urgency.

Change in your culture will not come after making one great “Change is imperative” speech to the workforce. Your task does not end after identifying the need for change and stating it. You must lead the organization and lead – and live – the change process. References to the needed change must abound in your communications, and evidence of your commitment to the change must be clear, consistent, and visual to your employees. If you are working to increase the empowerment of your employees, then you need to define clearly what empowerment looks like and work to find examples that provide positive reinforcement of the movement toward empowerment. Change efforts cannot be passive. Organizational inertia to remain “as is” can be powerful, and you have to exert greater force on the culture to shape it into what you envision.

Many traditional print organizations operate on a “need to know” basis, where information is compartmentalized and only shared selectively. This is the antithesis of Lean management. Managers need to set the example of openly sharing information and work to break down existing barriers that inhibit the flow of information within the culture. Employees will watch and see how open management is with free-flowing communication on the topic of change and altering the culture.