Make, not manage, change

by | Jul 7, 2014 | Blog | 0 comments

slasherAre you a slasher? Specifically, a leader/change maker?

The changing face of work and workers emboldens slashing.

In her book One Person/Multiple Careers: The Original Guide to the Slash Career (Volume 1), author Marci Alboher explained that slashers integrate their multiple passions, talents, and interests into a work life that a single career often cannot accommodate.

Whether you’re a committed slasher or a career monogamist, you need to influence others at work. That generally means getting people to take action—often changing what they’re doing now.

In an earlier era, some leaders might have left this change work to change management professionals. (Although the more progressive leaders have always realized that leadership includes making change.)

In our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world today, when standing still means falling behind, leaders at all levels need to be constantly making change happen.

If you’re a leader, you make change so you can shape the future. That’s one of your jobs.

Managing change is too passive these days. Administering change is a thankless, fruitless job. It’s too hard to cut through the clutter quickly and engage employees to take action.

Plus do employees want to be managed when change is involved? No, they don’t want change to be done to them. (Check out Make change in a brain-friendly way for more on this topic.)

To improve their change skills, leaders/change makers can take a page from the book of Chris Anderson, a slasher extraordinaire.

Anderson is now an author/CEO. In addition to writing three books, he cofounded 3Drobotics, a drone manufacturing company. Before writing books and making drones, he was a writer for The Economist and the editor of Wired.

In his 2012 book Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, Anderson described how open source design, new technologies like 3D printing, and the crowdsourcing of ideas make manufacturing—and change— easier.

For those who aren’t the natural born tinkerers like Anderson is, you can still use crowdsourcing as a change tool.

By enlisting the services of others, you can leverage their ideas and skills. Plus, their participation will give them ownership to the change and make them more committed.

To benefit from crowdsourcing, you need to change your mindset. Instead of thinking “do it yourself,” adopt the mantra “do it together,” as Anderson advises.

In my experience, good crowdsourcing actions for change include:

  • Conduct a project pre-mortem with your team. With this technique, as described by Gary Klein in The Harvard Business Review article Performing a Project Premortem, you gather team members together to try to figure out at the start of the project what might go wrong before it’s too late to prevent it. To say it another way, to paraphrase Ian Mitroff, the father of crisis management, everyone thinks like a psychopath so they can then act like saints during the project.
  • Bring the outside in. Enlist customers, suppliers, industry experts and other key external stakeholders to help you explain why the organization needs to change and how you can do it. The context these outsiders provide can often be more illuminating as well as compelling, especially when they share both the rational and emotional perspective. Facts and figures plus the stories from the heart can sway, especially when delivered face-to-face. If that’s not possible, videotape them. Be sure to show the video at team meetings so managers and employees can use the video as a springboard for discussion and action planning.

Whichever crowdsourcing action you choose, recognize change is hard and messy.

It’s easier, better for the brain and more effective for individuals and the organization if you aim for:

More not fewer cooks in the kitchen….Tiny steps not big leaps….Progress over perfection.

Keep on moving and making. And please be willing to consult with advisors like me and others. As advisors we can support you, but not take over your change duties. You’ve got to be the leader/change maker.


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