When trying to grow a new Australian based start-up there’s many challenges, not the least of which is getting people to change to a new way of working. Even when you know there are benefits for all, and that to change what you’re doing now and reap these benefits comes at no cost. For some reason it seems easier for most to keep doing what they’ve been doing for so many years. ‘Reverting to type’ is a common phrase for good reason. So why can we be so averse to change? We adapt to change in our everyday lives naturally but often unknowingly. You get in your car, the weather is different, the traffic is different, the lights change, there’s roadworks etc. etc. And we change, we adapt and we do it because we have to. If you want to get where you are going you often have to do something a little different and make changes along the journey.
Sound familiar? Well think where we’d be if any new way of doings things was simply never adopted……. I get the feeling there’d be a revolution if the clock was turned back and there simply weren’t any devices. For those Gen x’ers and older, might not be a bad thing. But whether it’s the devices and technology of this age, or the industrial revolutions of other ages, one thing seems consistent; it takes time before there’s wider adoption of something new and different.
During my career, challenging the status quo and looking for new and better ways of working was expected, and if you wanted to succeed you HAD to look for change opportunities. I used to ask “why?” an awful lot. Why that way? Why that process? Why that system? Too often (and I’m sure you’ve all heard this) the answer was; “because we’ve always done it that way”. For me it became a personal mission to prove that the change was a ‘no-brainer’, that there were benefits to be gained through adopting a change and that yes, there would be ROI. So when it’s not about production cost per widget, how do you demonstrate ROI? Value add, streamlined processes, greater volumes, less people required? Ahhhh that last one used to and still does carry a lot of weight, particularly for the bean counters. Better systems means less people right? Not always……better utilisation of peoples skills and attributes will deliver far broader benefits for businesses. Stop people processing and get them to think, design, explore, shape and lead.
The reality is, it takes time before people just ‘give it a go”. When Uber came along, I thought it was an interesting concept that wouldn’t last. Then as I listened to the various pundits espousing their views I started wondering if it was even legal…. Then thought about all those years of grotty cabs, high tariffs and the drivers that didn’t know where they were going or speak the local language. Operators in an untouchable monopoly. Of course that needed to change, so Uber was the great disruptor that has now seen improvements even in the taxi industry. Amazing what a bit of competition does to a market! Well I eventually did “Give it a Go” and haven’t been in a taxi since. But what really made me give it a go was when someone I trusted, recommended and endorsed it. The power of the personal recommendation came to the rescue!
In the end whether it’s in our professional or personal lives, so many times the most powerful endorsement and driver for change is that recommendation from someone within your trusted networks. A bit like the old blue light discoes….it just takes one or two to get on the dance floor and others will see there’s no real risk and just “give it a go”.