Have you ever been in a seminar or presentation where the person presenting enthusiastically proclaimed, "The only constant is change!"? This is usually followed up with something like, "and that has never been more true than today." I wonder who the first person was that used that phrase?
We would all probably agree that the pace of new products, technologies and services is accelerating. The impact on our jobs and companies is therefore increasing as well. Becoming good at spotting change and adapting to it smoothly is key to our success.
I remember when Apple famously removed the floppy disk drive from their computers. They then went further and removed the CD-ROM drive. They effectively said "change has come, these computers are all connected to each other so they all do not need these disk drives." Fast forward to today and hold an iPad, the modern computer, in your hand. Where is the disk drive? Of course you do not need a floppy or CD disk drive on your iPad. That is so obvious now that we don’t even stop to consider it. But at one point in time it was a controversial product decision leading to change.
How do we evaluate the many changes that come our way? How do we make good decisions for our companies and our customers? How can we be a part of embracing a "better way?" I use three simple criteria for evaluating change and helping myself adapt. They are:
Is it positive?
Something new that can help you, your organization or your customers should be greeted with open arms. Say "welcome" to positive change. Often we hear of a new requirement, new process or some new method of doing our jobs, and we immediately resist because we know it will require uncomfortable and time consuming adjustments. Try and focus on the benefit of the proposed new way and how it can help you and your company. This can lead to an attitude of expectancy, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for your career.
Does it conflict with our values?
Some things should not change. But that list is shorter than you probably think. Research has shown that the most successful companies, measured over a 50-year period, have a set of core values. Yet their average list is only three to six. At Benefitfocus, we have four core values. They are: Provide Anticipatory Service, Respect the Individual, Celebrate and Together. These should not change.
However our processes, products and culture should adapt and change. People often ask how we do such a good job of preserving our company's culture. One secret is that we allow it to adapt with our growing company. We preserve the core values to be sure. Yet we allow the culture to blossom and flow with all the new and talented people joining the company. In the book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, there is a very good chapter on the overlap, yet uniqueness of company core values and company culture. Understanding the differences can open your mind to positive changes.
Does the change help someone?
I heard someone say that when you are giving a presentation, you are to keep in mind that everyone in your audience is tuned into the radio station WIIFM. That stands for What's In It For Me. We all tend to evaluate what we hear through the filter of our own well-being. That may be a good thing to keep in mind when giving a speech, but it can be career limiting when appraising change. If you only think of yourself when presented with a new way of doing your job, then you often may resist change. If, however, you evaluate the change in the light of how it can help serve others and embrace it on that basis, then you can become a true leader in improving your company.
These are simple ways to evaluate change. I hope they help you in some small way today. I know they continue to help me, as I stay open to positive change.