On one September Friday, we sat down with a few colleagues and discussed change and change management (we always do, we're all passionate about this!). I started to wonder how futures thinking could serve as a tool for clarifying the need of change...
We have all worked with change and change management through all of our careers, in different positions and with different responsibilities. Now one of us is creating models for continuous and sustainable business renewal for a major corporation, one is supporting business process renewal via state-of-art SAFe frameworks and we are creating new ways of working with strategic futures for management teams via FIBRES. We all approach change from different positions but are aligned in thinking, that the most important prerequisite for the change is the creation of the desire and the direction for the change. And, in the implementation of new processes and working methods, the most difficult part is the habitual change. The enabling and "letting go" of the old.
One of the core concepts behind successful change implementation is the common comprehension of the need for change. You, as the change driver, will need to awaken that interest in one way or another, in order to create traction and drive. Corporate strategy can be an easy start or basis for formulating the need. But what if you are building something new? And only you know, creating that need is necessary? Could futures thinking be used as a catalyst to create the need for change?
First of all, you need a clearly formulated vision statement or a target description to communicate what needs to happen and where you will need to go. Unfortunately, I have no golden nuggets to share here; you will need to build that insight based on your organizations targets, your understanding of the trends and market development. To build that, you could use my previous tips from my previous post. Remember, there are no rights and wrongs.
You might be in your most powerful position if you start by rough guidelines of the direction, but only naming the first steps that can be detailed. Detail and write the first few steps towards your desired future - and at the same time be brutally honest and open about the vulnerability, open options, and adaptability of the detailed path forward. This can feel very challenging to but will allow you to detail the next steps as things proceed. If you (and your board) can handle the anxiety that creates, you will be very agile when needed.
Some managers and change drivers opt for creating a burning platform - even a man-made crisis - to create an urgency, and even push through changes that might cause chaos in the normal day-to-day life. We Finns remember Mr Elops memo at Nokia, which was very powerful (not that I would necessarily name it a good example of this!). Creating a burning platform might be a useful tool if your situation needs serious shaking up, but without a decent direction that might be exactly where you end up. Shaken-up, without direction.
The need for change is not always that critical, though. Most of the times you should be preparing for an upcoming change, and to be prepared for a volatile time ahead without knowing exact details, nor the effects the change will have. You will still need to lead it, and create a direction - even if an intermediate one - and lead towards it with your best abilities.
We at Team FIBRES think You could utilize futures thinking as a tool for creating that critical understanding of direction and through it, an intrinsic understanding of the importance of building your own future - even when you don't know each detail. Again, you could start by using the tips I collected in my previous blog post.
On a side note, as the thinking process for this post started, the evening started to darken and we decided that it is time to continue with a glass of bubbly. Cheers! Kippis!