Fast & Furious

If you know me, or have read my blogs before, you’ll be forgiven for thinking this blog is going to be car related; talking about Lamborghinis, Bugattis or other fast cars….but it’s not...

My inspiration for this month’s blog is the incredible pace of change we’re all going through as a result of COVID-19.

Here are some amazing achievements that I have observed in the last few weeks:

  • A 4000 bed hospital unit has been created in London in less than 10 days.
  • Online learning capability has been set-up within a matter of days; something that would’ve easily taken months of planning and implementation in ‘normal’ circumstances. 
  • Government policy has been defined rapidly, and systems to facilitate these packages are following incredibly quickly. 
  • A local hospital has rolled out the use of walkie talkies to speed up communication; interestingly, this is something I’ve worked on first-hand with an aftersales division of an automotive Retailer. They did really well and successfully rolled out the idea, but it still took many weeks, with the biggest challenge being the way people adapted to the change. 
  • People are embracing digital tools to run workshops, teach fitness classes and have meetings.
  • Self-confessed “tech luddites" (their words, not mine!) who “don’t do” technology, are now having regular Zoom group calls with family (after getting over the initial challenge of working out how to get the camera to point in the right direction!). 

Fundamentally, what the COVID-19 disaster has taught us, is the need to adapt to change quickly, efficiently and with a positive mindset. Organisations haven’t had the luxury of time and big budgets to create and rollout detailed projects and programmes. It really has been a case of go, go, go…

How has this happened though? Why has it been such a success in the main? In my opinion, it’s teamwork. People pulling together, supporting each other, and generally being positive-minded about the change.  

So, whilst we’re all in the midst of a change revolution; arguably, the biggest one we’ll experience in our lifetime, I thought it’d be helpful to pull together a list of top tips for successful change management (and no, you don’t need a global pandemic to trigger rapid and successful change!)

  1. Communication - It’s key to communicate with everyone who will be impacted by the change. Timing of the communication is vital. Be factual, be honest, and don’t leave people in the dark. Communicate what’s happening, why it’s happening, when it’ll land, and what the impact will be. 
  2. Listen - Welcome feedback from those impacted by the change, and better still, actively invite their input. Establish an open, two-way communication channel. 
  3. Involvement - Front line workers and teams are often best equipped to identify issues and opportunities, so don’t forget to involve them  in projects, especially when it comes to scoping the change.
  4. Deliver - Action your promises, and deliver on them. If there’s a delay, be honest, and communicate it promptly. 
  5. Celebrate - Highlight team, individual, and project successes. Never underestimate the power of a “thank you” or a “well done”.
  6. Focus – Be focused on the activities to implement the change. Projects often take far longer than they need to. Challenge yourself, challenge the team and challenge the stakeholders. Encourage prompt and timely decision making, and ensure everyone pulls together.
  7. Review & Refine - Projects often end at the “go live”; the turning on of a new system, the opening of a new store or business, or the rollout of a new process. However, this is definitely not the finishing line! Successful change involves a review phase to identify what’s working well, what’s not working so well, and what adaptations might be required. Review, refine and improve regularly to embed the change effectively. 

Who knows what other changes we’re all going to have to adapt to in the coming weeks and months. After all, it’s a strange and unknown world we’re living in at the moment!

Only one thing is certain; change is going to keep coming. The choice we have, is how we react to it, how we adapt to it, and how we embrace it.