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No-one ever got anywhere by standing still. Change is incredibly important for business, but it’s also one of the most difficult things to manage, simply because humans aren’t especially keen on it. That’s why managing change is one of the most important skills that leaders and managers will learn.

Broadly, there are two categories of change that businesses have to deal with. One is the change that’s beyond their control, but which they must react to in order to succeed – the ongoing change that comes from an unpredictable and fast-changing world. If you’d told our grandparents that the bulk of a working day would be spent in front of a computer, would they have believed you? (You could have had even more fun explaining the internet to them!) The most successful modern businesses are those that have embraced the change that technology has brought, and predicted how it would change the behaviour of their customers, and the organisation itself.

The second type of change is the change you choose – the new products, services, processes and structures that organisations put into place in order to improve their business. While it is self-inflicted, this is often a consequence of the first type of change – and it has the benefit of being predictable, and therefore something you can plan for.

Planning, though, is only half the battle. One of the most often-quoted statistics in business is that 75% of change initiatives fail. They fail because of a lack of commitment, or a failure of communication, just sometimes because of something close to boredom – by the time the message has filtered through to the lowest ranks in the organisation, the board has moved on to something else. Deciding to change isn’t enough – you have to make it happen.

The biggest danger is that people will nod and agree when you say that change is going to happen, then carry on as they always have done.  As the economist John Maynard Keynes once said: “The difficulty isn’t developing new ideas – it’s escaping the old ones.’ Real change needs momentum behind it, and that has to come from leaders.

Leaders must fight against this natural resistance to change, beginning with a clear and compelling explanation of why the change is necessary. Once this message is understood it needs to be repeated constantly, and reinforced by the behaviour of the organisation’s leaders.

At Space2BE we understand that change projects are one of the most difficult things to do well, and we’re here to help.  We are currently helping several organisations enact the change that is necessary to deliver their strategies and we are doing this by injecting some high quality organisation development (OD) challenge and new knowledge at the planning stage, coaching the leaders in how to lead change effectively, delivering team workshops helping individuals through their own personal change journeys and facilitating team meetings, observing, feeding back and supporting the embedding of new behaviours.

The leadership and management of change isn’t easy and is not for the faint hearted.  It requires rigour, tenacity, commitment, empathy, understanding and time.

“PEOPLE DON’T RESIST CHANGE, THEY RESIST BEING CHANGED”  Edgar Schein