Change is in the air….Examine it. Understand it. Create escape velocity.
Updated: Jan 5, 2021
If you are like me, you probably need little convincing that things are changing more rapidly than ever.
Internet was only invented in the late 80’s early 90’s. And, remember Katie Couric’s classic question on The Today Show when she asked her producer… “What is the Internet?” That was 1994 well before Twitter, Instagram, etc. In addition, with the explosion of technological change and the growing innovation coming from big data and AI (Artificial Intelligence), the barriers for new companies are perhaps lower than ever and new product development is accelerating at an amazing pace.
What does this mean for you? In my opinion, it is very important to embrace change and be a catalyst for innovation in your business. We all know how easy it is to grow weary with the pace of change, but successful entrepreneurs are wired to see the silver lining. Early on Steve Case (AOL CEO) said, “The pace of change and the threat of disruption creates tremendous opportunities.” He certainly lived into that quote. In short, if you can shift your mindset and see potential problems as opportunities, you can seize the moment.
So how do you adapt to this new pace of change and shift your mindset? Admittedly, it is not always easy, but being aware of your own limitations, your own biases and what might be holding you back is important. Identifying these items is an important first step towards driving positive change. In many organizations, the leader sets the tone for how bold the team is willing to be. Are you holding your team back? Remember, leadership is a public act. People are always watching.
See our framework below as a way to unleash, empower and engage your team, your peers and even your leaders.
Edgehill Framework for embracing change
1. Examine your mindset and the mindset of others
2. Understand the full context in which you are driving change (the past, the present, the future)
3. Create escape velocity
As noted earlier, as a catalyst for change, you must examine your own mindset. It starts with YOU. The first step to creating and embracing change is to be aware of what you are bringing to the table. One of my favorite reads is a book by Carol Dweck (@CarolDweck) called Mindset. In her book Carol makes a distinction between a fixed and a growth mindset and more importantly, in my mind, she then shows how this mindset might color your actions. For example, if you have a fixed mindset about some of the talent on your team (meaning you think that they are a bit stuck in their current skillset), you will, for the most part, always see them that way and likely fail to give them more challenges and opportunities for growth. Your mindset can become a self-fulfilling cycle. On the other hand, if you have a growth mindset about talent, you are constantly looking for and seeing possibilities in your people. You are challenging them and testing to see where they might add more value and bring special talents to bear.
So…Step 1. Examine your mindset. What is potentially clouding your ability to stay open to learning, to adopting a growth mindset. To get your juices flowing on this topic, check out this 3-minute video by Jay Shetty called The Mindset of a Learning Leader. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flra_KrXcql
Understanding the ecosystem within which you are trying to drive change is critical. This could be within a team, within a line of business, within a company, within a customer segment etc. Many times, once you have examined your own mindset and gained some clarity, you are ready to jump to action (i.e. ready to move to Step 3). However, in doing so you have missed a critical step/growth opportunity. You must bring others along! If you get too far out in front, you will NOT be able to drive change on the scale you want. This is the story of my life. I tend to move through change quickly, and I am a bit addicted to big outcomes and new possibilities. That is one of my best qualities, however, the dark side is that many times I found myself too far out in front and had to learn the hard way how to slow down to speed up! My wise husband, Farhad Aghdami (@FarhadAghdami), once told me…”20 miles out you are a target and 2 miles out you are a leader.” That quote has really impacted the way I think about driving change and helping clients to drive change.
So, how do you slow down to speed up? How do you help others gain the clarity and adopt a growth mindset? This is where the “slow down” thing comes into play. I have a simple framework that, I believe, helps engage others and helps bring them into the bold possibility of change and innovation. Here it is. In order to understand the context within which you are driving change you MUST examine the eco system within which the people you want to change are living.
The 3-step process to change and communication is fairly simple. This framework is adapted from a book by Terry Pearse.
· Respect the past: This is a crucial step for people to know that you understand what they have been through. For example, it might be acknowledging that the team has driven amazing results to date with the limited resources, but going forward something must change; or that they have had big industry disruption yielding a blow to the key revenue driver for the company. Whatever, it may be, it is important to understand it and acknowledge it. This gives you the credibility to lead. It also helps get everyone on the same page as maybe there is a new wave of hires that do not have the context of where the company has been. So, the point of this step is simply to understand, be empathic and respect what people have been through.
· Acknowledge the present: Once you know where the team has been, you need to be brutally honest about where things stand today. This anchors everyone on the current state, the current moment. And, it brings everyone to TODAY. Meaning, you likely have multiple groups in your organization that have different context and now they are all up to speed. Given this, you have now built a launch pad for change. Here we go!
· Create vision for the future: Now it is time to articulate a compelling vision for the future (I recommend thinking 3 years out). Dreaming 3 years out frees you and the team from the trappings of the current state. See the next step for more details.
If you have moved through steps 1 and 2, you can now take action with step 3. But, again, I am going to suggest going slower to go faster. Don’t get me wrong, this is the action step. This is the step that most people jump to first (reference my previous blog on PDCA for more info on why jumping to action in many cases is flawed.) If you have gone through the first 2 steps, at this point, the team knows where they have been and you need to be brutally honest about where things stand today. Ready, set, go! This step is all about creating escape velocity. What does that mean. I have a visual that might help. It was given to me by a mentor at Capital One, Karl Werwath (@KarlWerwath). Karl constantly asked us to think bigger, do more and dream.
Creating Escape Velocity:
· Start with the dream. Paint a picture of the future that is aspirational, hard to reach but conceivable. This is your moonshot statement, your vision, your next challenge.
· Create small wins along the way. These might not be things you normally celebrate (like annual or quarterly awards), but they may be more important (like the first app created, the first agile team win, the thing you tried quickly and then failed). You are looking for teams to work and think differently. When you see them you celebrate publicly? So everyone knows that is what success looks like. You are telling them you want more cowbell (see SNL skit if you don’t get the reference). As for the visual, the small wins are the dots along the spiral. They help you create escape velocity so that your team starts to believe and envision the moonshot.
· Find the adopters. Like every adoption curve, you will have those that jump in early. Encourage and support them as they will be the ones that know how to get the rest (or least the majority) thinking and innovating about the future! I live by the saying…Thing Big and Act Small…meaning dream a big dream and take small actions day after day to get there. The path may deviate, but the dream will stay alive. For escape velocity to happen (you know the thing that lets you escape the inertia of earth (i.e. gravity or your own current state situation) you need to get enough small wins and followers so that people start to believe the dream is possible. Once they do, I guarantee you will over shoot your goal. Check out this short video by Derek Sivers (@DerekSivers) to experience the momentum I am describing…https://www.ted.com/talks/derek_siver_how_to_start_a_movement
That’s all for now. If you want to learn more about driving transformational change, join us on January 29th for our Find You Edge 2020 conference in Richmond.
Register now at https://find_your_edge_2020.eventbrite.com. Also see more information at Edgehillcg.com.
Cheers and happy 2020!