Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Change-Freak Checklist

I came across a very interesting article this week in the online Businessweek by William C. Taylor. The title of the article is "Change-Agent Checklist" (which would have been more catchy if it was entitled "Change-Freak Checklist!"). You can link to the full article here or find a pdf on the links and files section of changefreak.com.

Early in the article Bill makes a profound statement for our times: "Indeed, when it comes to creating the future, the only thing more worrisome than the prospect of too much change may be too little change—especially in an economy where there are too many competitors chasing too few customers with products and services that look too much alike." He follows this with ten key question leaders need to ask themselves and their organizations. I would like to comment on a few that I found the most interesting here:

2. Do you have new ideas about where to look for new ideas? Good question. You don't have to have all the ideas, but you need to know where to look and who to ask. Are you expanding your reading and research, or are you stuck in your familiar (and comfortable) trade journals for your industries? Some of the best ideas come from learning about how other organizations in other markets and sectors have addressed their challenges. Inspired by other industries that had found ways to reclaim their scrap, Mike Yurosek found a way to reclaim 400 tons a day of damaged carrots and literally saved his business. You may have even eaten one of these "baby carrots."

5. Have you figured out how your organization's history can help to shape its future? Successful organizations leverage the experience of what they already know to go beyond what they have ever thought possible. The organizations that can leverage the experience of their organization and infuse it with the new ideas that come from fresh eyes and new approaches will be the ones that thrive.

8. Are you getting the best contributions from the most people? Are you seeking out the "hidden genius" inside your organization, or are you trapped in the outdated belief that some people are paid to work and others to think? Your best inspiration can come from the most unexpected places, often within your own organization. You just have to be humble enough to admit you don't have all the answers and enough respect for people to ask good questions and actively listen.

10. Are you learning as fast as the world is changing? I love this question. We live in a world that is changing at a record pace. The availability of information is unprecedented in our day, and learning individuals and organizations will be the victors in the future. Are you a "lifelong learner" or one who is content with what you have already learned? When you consider (cited in an earlier post) the fact that 42% of college graduates never read another book after graduation, I would presume that we have a lot of people that are falling desperately behind.

Resolve to not be one of them.

1 comment:

Chris said...

This is a great article. I agree that this is the time to strike for all of us, because it is 'do or die' time for so many struggling in this economy. Just remember, a perfect diamond is not created under the ideal, most comfortable environments. It develops under harsh conditions and extreme pressures.

-Chris Y.