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Change ~ Embrace or run?

I work in an extremely fast paced, ever changing company. Let's face it; our phones are often outdated less than a year after we purchase them and often times the next model has been launched before we even figure out the depths of what these devices are capable of! I often times hear "We just can't keep up," "It's too much," to "I'm too old for this, maybe it's time I find something less stressful." I believe in a highly competitive market one has to work harder and smarter for their earnings than before. With so many companies struggling to stay afloat, keep up with the competition and lack of customer loyalty it's our jobs to understand the market, keep up the pace and have a very forward thinking mindset. How do you handle change? Are there cases when it may be best to run rather than embrace it?

Answers

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Change challenges can be divided into several areas, based on different criteria. Figuring out which buckets to use can be daunting.

Here's one possible decision tree:
Let's take your example. Are the phones working? Are the phones providing you with the functionality that you need. Can you afford to buy a new system? What would be your ROI on a new system?

Another would be: Are the phones working? Do we get them fixed? Are we utilizing the system to its fullest? Does it pay to upgrade or get a new system to obtain a technology not currently supported by our phone system?

On the flip side is learning to use the phone system. What is your staff like: are they tech savvy, tech amenable or tech phobic?

No easy answer and it's a company by company, culture by culture decision.

Bryan Frey
Title: VP Finance/Corp Controller
Company:
(VP Finance/Corp Controller, ) |

Change comes so fast now it's dizzying. My take on this is that you need to be ready for and embrace change. You should always be looking for ways to make yourself and your team more effective, which means you need to be a catalyst for change.

However, that does not mean that you should blow with every breeze. Standing fast to positions and products and processes that work or that you think will work is also a strength, and can take more courage and fortitude than changing to chase trends or to appease execs or even your board. You don't want to defend and maintain bad practices, b/c those get you stuck in the mud. But you do want to stick to your guns when it makes sense and when you believe, based on data and your experience, that you are taking the right position. The challenge, of course, is determining the "right" position. That is always the case and why we're entrusted (as finance leaders) with so much power and responsibility in the company.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Christie
I read and re-read your question, it was really thought provoking.

When you talk about change, I wondered if you meant:
-Changing from what I am doing to something different in future, or,
-Being adaptable, flexible to cope with changes that you encounter?

Examples:
-If I have a bad process to bill customers and collect money, will I accept the need to change my process to one that is improved, or will I resist change?
-If I am good at detecting my client's needs, and constantly adapt my approach to meet their needs, perhaps I should not change my adaptability.

Your thoughts? (and others)

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Len,

We sell Cell Phones, Tablets, accessories etc. The Galaxy S III launches and then the 4, 5, and soon to be 6 so quickly people don't have time to absorb all the changes and new technological advances being made.

We have new promo's launching quarterly with often times changes in the middle of that promo - all to remain competitive and offer the best products and prices we can.

For change to be successful it takes a good leader to rally the troops, but often times I see the leader become just as overwhelmed. I was just curious how others feel and love asking thought provoking questions. ;)

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Chris,

I wonder if you truly looked at your processes with the lens of continuous improvement you wouldn't change your opinion. As you mention note taking in meetings. Let me give you an example that transitioned my thoughts on this. We have to reconcile our payment from our carrier to our POS system. The software has integrated capabilities to assist with this but it was still very laborious. We were exporting to excel, applying multiple formulas to manipulate data and then spending hours submitting disputes. We literately spent days/weeks reconciling. We stumbled upon an extremely advanced excel Guru who introduced us into macro's. We took a process that didn't seem broke to us and incorporated some macro's into the equation and shed days off the process. The problem with "if it isn't broke don't fix it" method is that you could be costing the company/yourself more money in long run by doing a process "just because that's the way its always been done." Thoughts?

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

It only makes sense to run from change, especially when it involves technology, if your like my 73 year old grandmother that's retired with no intentions of doing anything on the internet or telephone outside of emailing spam to your grandkids, or making phone calls.

I tried to resist change, and still put forth a good fight every now and then. The mantra of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is something I too often focus on. Perhaps my thought process on that is as Bryan Frey mentioned above about standing fast to my positions of the unbroken systems.

I don't think I could work in your industry doing sales and training for wireless products. Cellphones do change too fast for me. I've never owned an iPhone so I can't compare its technology advances. But the Samsung phones and operating systems have more times that not left me wanting a flip phone from 1999. The technology seems to do too much, most of which I don't need.

But thank to technology advances, I can take notes in a meeting in an app, forward it to participants, accept feedback, make changes, email it, etc., without having to have an expensive word processor on a laptop or desktop.

If we are not changing with the world around us, we are still changing because we have to learn to adapt to processes and technology that will be, or already are, outdated. You're either moving forward, or backward, we are never standing still.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Change is a constant. We all accept that concept. But there is change that is required and change that is thrust upon you. Regardless, change is very disruptive. I would never want to “embrace” disruption.

From a business perspective - The notion of “continuous improvement” is a good one, if done correctly. I do not want a process I establish on January 1 to shift continually and be something completely different on December 31st. It is better when change occurs in set stages spaced apart, as every change should be accompanied by – policies & procedures, metrics to monitor the process and a risk review.

From an individual perspective - Technology is a completely different animal. Advancements are occurring rapidly. Phones and tablets are becoming more powerful, as is the associated software. If you stick to your old tried and true device, its utility will decline. Marketing is very difficult. How do you establish sales standards and sales management standards when the product is evolving? But if you do not have standards, the customer experience will be different every time someone enters one of your stores.

Paul Naujoks
Title: IT Specialist
Company: Soundwich, Inc.
(IT Specialist, Soundwich, Inc.) |

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ”
Alvin Toffler

Says it all.

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

Embracing change or running from it?

I think it depends on where you are within the organizational structure. In my experience, when one is low in the ranks and high level management pursues a course that requires change, the stress levels are high and the outcomes uncertain. It can end up bad or good but, seldom have I seen the worker bees reap the benefits.

Higher ups? Even when they've made bad decisions and the changes end up with deleterious results, they somehow land on their feet. It can be quite frustrating. Particularly when the results for you are less than stellar.

Have you ever noticed in articles about "successful" entrepreneurs or highly respected titans of business they frequently talk about how they took a "time out" from their vocation to go figure out what they wanted to do in the future?

I am always left with the thought that, "normal" people do not have this option. And, I'm not one who lives paycheck to paycheck. In fact, according to the stats I can find my net worth puts in me in the top 10% of all U.S. households. But taking time off to "find myself" has never been an option in my life. It's been forced on me via job elimination and years of un/underemployment in the past. It was not pleasant! I won't do it again if I can avoid it. It affects your self esteem, your career and your finances.

That's why a CFO dictating change to staff is in a much better position to weather any outcome than say, an accounting manager. Thus, while I would advise you to embrace change because it is inevitable, I'd also advise you to do so with cautious optimism. If the change becomes too difficult to endure or, it appears that you will not reap the benefits of a positive outcome, then by all means, run away. As fast as you can. While you have the chance.

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