Steps To Building A Change Accepting Environment


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Post SMPS conference write up on the topic shared, how to build change accepting work environments. The session received the highest ranking and evaluations of any given that week.

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Steps To Building A Change Accepting Environment

  1. 1. New Business Thinking Steps to Building a Change-Accepting Environment by: avid Carrithers, Vice President of Marketing D Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc. SMPS Build Business Conference Successful change and new thinking have nothing to do with technology, budget or the best idea. They have everything to do with communications, planning, timing and relationships. Building a change-accepting environment is not about creativity, it is about strategic relationships and gaining acceptance to open thinking. Delivering Solutions, Building Relationships. 9-2009
  2. 2. 2 Introduction “Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.” — Christina Baldwin Change is inevitable and unavoidable — in our homes, our workplaces and our lives. The sooner we accept and embrace change, the sooner we enjoy, benefit and grow from it. Yet, as humans, we turn away from change. We try to bend the forces of nature and the laws of physics to make change not happen. We try to work around it, or hope it just goes away. “ hange is the constant, the C signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.” —Christina Baldwin “ here is nothing like T returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” —Nelson Mandela Even unplanned and unpleasant change — the things we cannot control, like the loss of a loved one or a job — can provide impetus to grow. It can force us to reflect on our lives and question whether we have defined a path for ourselves, and if we are following that path. Rather than allowing change to bog us down or define us, we must use it to help us define a path to building change-accepting environments. In business, the practical processes of new business thinking are counter-intuitive. The idea that something new, better and even necessary will be embraced by all within the business is a common misconception of many business leaders. Irregardless of the size of their company, many business leaders naively believe that everyone within their organization is looking out for and embracing new thinking and new opportunities. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true, which leads to the loss of potentially powerful new opportunities — whether a new product, new business development, new market or new business relationship. Most changes in business can be anticipated; they are forewarned and obvious. Many times the threat or opportunity was well on the way, obvious and clear — to all but the person or organization impacted by it. Whether any of us realize it or not, we can do very little to avoid the continual assaults and bumps of change — but we can change our mindsets, and our feelings about change. We can embrace it, dance with it, and when necessary, wrestle it to the ground — but never hide from it or ignore it. Successful change and new thinking has nothing to do with technology, budget or the best idea. It has everything to do with communications, planning, timing and relationships. Building a change-accepting environment is not about creativity, it is about strategic relationships gaining acceptance to open thinking. The goal of this discussion is to help the business reader realize that change is everywhere, within ourselves and our world. We all grow old, the seasons come and go; the moment we begin to utilize something we change it. We seldom take notice of these smaller, inch-byinch changes and yet they can be big impacts in our lives. The same is true with the business world. There is a need to realize that even the most successful business, product or team, over time, is impacted by changes, and they need to evolve and begin to accept change everyday. Otherwise life and business will pass them by. “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” — Nelson Mandela Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  3. 3. New Business Thinking 3 Where Most People Live While the world is a big place and we are becoming more and more interconnected with each passing day, the average person’s worldview revolves around a 50-mile radius of their home, and their mindset is one of putting milk on the table and spending time relaxing with family and friends. We don’t think about every global pressure and the market shifts taking place 24/7. This lulls us into thinking that tomorrow will be the same as today; just get up and go at the day like every other day. In some ways we end up “change fatigued,” looking not to embrace it, but to avoid and barricade ourselves against change. At work, most of us imagine our organizations as a boat on calm waters with only occasional ripples. The visual of a crew, all rowing in sync, is the idea of organizational perfection. We instinctively believe that we exist in a steady state of normal operations, and that change occurs periodically, after which time we return to the status quo. Today’s reality is nowhere near this thinking. Change is constant — it is never ending — and the status quo is nonexistent. A more accurate visual of business is a white water rapid of organizational, market and product change. The head waters are always in change, driven by globalization, capital constraints and technology. What was will never be again and waiting for this return to normal is not realistic. A better analogy would be a Kayak on a wild river with constantly roiling water. This new reality provides organizations and individuals clarity about their role with their stakeholders. We need to assess continually how are we doing as a business, as a team, and as individuals within the team. Are we bringing value today, now, this hour, next month, five years from now? Success of the past is not always the best indicator of the success of the future. Instead, the attitude of how to live and operate within a change-filled environment is key. Yes, skills, training and experience can be great helps — but the core thinking, the belief in change as a way of operating, is the most important place to be grounded. You must believe in your heart-of-hearts that change is real; it is present in all we do and that it can be a catalyst for good things. New Thinking Gem Serenity or Change?  Fact: 1. A new business commences operation every minute 2. A business files for bankruptcy every 8 minutes 3. A business ceases operation every 3 minutes 4. A judgment is filed against a business every 14 seconds 5. A business name change happens every 2 minutes 6. A business ownership change happens every 4 hours 7. A business risk profile changes every minute Businesses are in a world of constant change and challenge — creating great opportunities for those who embrace a change-accepting environment. Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  4. 4. 4 When Is New Thinking Called Upon? In most businesses, the majority of new ideas and solutions evolve from reactions to specific situations, in a domino effect. New thinking is not a built-in, defined part of the company culture, or a key element of the business structure — like accounting or HR — but rather, it is pulled out when needed. New thinking is seen as a cure to a problem, instead of systemic and integrated into the culture of a company. New thinking is typically sought for: • • • • • • • • • • • New Products or Services, New Markets, New Sales Old Product, Services or Market Revitalization Product or Market Issues/Problems New Management and/or Management Changes Partnering/Joint Ventures/Mergers Competitive Situations Performance Issues New Technologies Personal Health or Crises Career Changes or Stall-outs Government Actions What Hinders New Thinking? If a company’s culture is conflict averse, or even worse, hostile to outsiders, new thinking can be greatly impacted. Things that often negatively impact new thinking include: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Past Success Current Success Looking Backward Emotions Poor Understanding Lack of Communications Culture of the Organization Strong Personalities Pack Mentality / Cliques Leadership (Lack Of Or Too Strong) Group Think Not Broke Why Fix It Power Struggle Issues Too Much Internal Competition Anyone attempting to develop a business culture that accepts new thinking, new ideas and new people must be honest with themselves and the leadership of their organization. Change acceptance is grounded in candor and openness. Nothing kills change acceptance faster than defensiveness or fear of honest dialogue. Moreover, change should be attempted when and where it is appropriate and strategic. Too much too soon, or wholesale change, can cause problems. It overloads the organization and creates a sense of lack of control. There is a thing called “change fatigue” and it starts the moment change is underway. Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  5. 5. New Business Thinking 5 Start with something and gain a small win, then move on to the next. In time the wins will add up and the business leadership will think, “Hey, this is just a part of how we operate.” This is why it is so important to start with a planned, endorsed and proactive change. New Thinking Gem Wake up, stay alert and seize opportunities when they present themselves. Howard Hughes’ father, “Big Howard,” was not much of a business person, but one day he met a guy in a hotel or bar who was developing a unique drill bit that could bite through bedrock to get at the oil below. It was like three pine cones pointed down that all intertwined together giving it more strength than anything else on the market. Big Howard bought the idea from him for $10,000 and started the Hughes Tool Company. The whole fortune was based on that chance encounter. So change can present itself in many forms and many ways. “People resist it on every level in all sorts of ways, and leaders can be the most resistant of all.” — John Kotter, Harvard Business School New Thinking Dies Because People Fear Change People want a manageable work life with consistent expectations. They want to maintain what they have; they operate in a “day-to-day survival” mode. This kind of thinking begins with a WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”) attitude. Employees do not always have the company’s best interests at heart and instead they approach any kind of change with a WIIFM attitude. “People resist it on every level in all sorts of ways, and leaders can be the most resistant of all.” — John Kotter, Harvard Business School The more difficult the change and the wider its impact, the greater the motivation needs to be — both to the organization and to its individuals. Building incentives, dealing with fear and the threat of loss, and identifying opportunities for advancement are just some of the issues that need to be addressed. The key to success is communicating that change is a good thing. What Made You Great In the Past Will Not Make You Great In The Future Many businesses emphasize preserving the past, when in reality, past-thinking is a killer. How many times have you heard, but that’s not how we do it? Challenging the status quo can often crush the life out of new thinking. If you walk into a company whose lobby is loaded with pictures of past presidents and dead guys, or they spend more time explaining history than vision, you are walking the halls of a beast that is craving a return to the past, and who feels the present is more challenging and less fun. New thinking companies have a forward view, fueled by past success. When their people look at better ways to do things or want to dissect something to see if it could be done better, these companies respond with, “Great!” instead of “Why?” Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  6. 6. 6 Our Business Structure is still circa 1900’s While technology has forever changed the way businesspeople work, power structures, decision making and direction setting in most businesses hasn’t changed dramatically in the past 100 years. Many utilize the “duck cover” style of management, focused on the path of least resistance or change. Most do not come to work every day asking, “So how do I eliminate my power, my job, and my livelihood?” New thinking will challenge all status quo power structures — and create a feeling like the world is destabilizing. New thinking requires more brain effort than maintaining the status quo. If you undertake the creation of a change-accepting environment or develop something new, be aware that the “corporate white blood cells” will come to life and do everything in their power to destroy the effort. “’m a company of one. I I have no team, no power; I share people with other projects. I can’t tell people Make sure you are up to the challenge. “I’m a company of one. I have no team, no power; I share people with other projects. I can’t tell people what to do — but I can convince them by appealing to their agenda” – Primal Leadership, p52 what to do — but I can convince them by appealing to their agenda.” What Is Needed For A New Thinking Culture? —Primal Leadership, p52 Once your thinking becomes focused on creating a change-accepting environment, you can start to walk a new path — one that is less about preserving the past and more about controlling the future. Self determination and control of your destiny are grounded in change and a new thinking way of business. “ e all have big changes in W In order to create a change accepting culture: • Companies need champions of change (change agents) • They need to support these champions • Change acceptance MUST start at the top • Change must be all about relationships, awareness expectation building • There must be a predetermined agreed upon processes for new thinking • Companies must shift from reactionary to proactive and continual new thinking improvement • A culture of change acceptance must be considered a key element of sustainable success • Utilize the corporate “right brains” for vision and spirit • Focus on the future without attacking the past • Share information, insights and thoughts — the more you give, the more people will start to think differently accept your ideas • Remember the strategic value of it all — not the nuts bolts of it all • Most importantly — focus on strategic thinking our lives that are more or less a second chance.” –Harrison Ford Once change-accepting environments begin to take shape, new ideas and new ways will come into view. “We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance.” — Harrison Ford Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  7. 7. New Business Thinking 7 Strategic Idea Development Environment Prepared to Accept Change Strategic Relationships Clearly Supports Business Goals and Mission Tools to Build Awareness, Understanding and Support Timing/ Velocity Transformation Rules MUST HAVE Clarity Around • • • • • • • • • • Get Buy-In Empower Others Produce Wins Do Not Back Off Reward Positive Behaviors Business Model Economic Engine Be The Best In The World At Passion Of The Leaders Opportunity Lens/Idea Processes Leadership vs. Management —John Kotter, Harvard New idea development is not about working hard at creating random, pop up, wow ideas that do not fit within the corporate culture. At the same time it cannot be expected that organizations will naturally bubble up and give life to new products or ideas. It is this balance between sparked creativity and defined discipline that builds the right spirit at a company allowing new things to come forward and succeed. The more upfront leg work, planning and defining that is done the better the chances that new ideas and development will be embraced and accepted, vs. looked at as a pain point. Again, this upfront work requires time with the leadership of a company to be aligned with the vision, direction and goals otherwise each “new” effort is more about a roll of the dice on how it will be seen or supported/not supported. Simple New Thinking Culture Thought Starters • Shift From Reactionary New Thinking To Proactive Continual New Thinking Improvement • Culture Of Change Acceptance — Not Looked At As A Pain But As Key Elements Of Sustainable Success • The Right Brains, Vision and Spirit • Do Not Attack The Past, Instead Focus On The Future • Share Information, Insights, Thoughts — The More You Give The More People Will Start To Think Differently Accept Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  8. 8. 8 New Thinking Gem “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” associates of David Sarnoff said to those urging him to invest in radio in the 1920s. • Most new ideas are D.O.A. because there has been no pre-thought or planning — “hey I was thinking” or “lightning bolts” • New ideas are usually brought for review before those who will be impacted the most, creating a breakdown in review and questionable objectivity • Research is about what was and what is, rarely what might be — it is a look back via snapshots • “Must be built here” thinking is deadly to advancement • Big group brainstorms do not generate big thinking results — Consensus Kills Remember, A Single Change Cannot Fix All Problems “Never lose sight of the short and long-term goals and what the real development effort is about.” Kitty Hawk Theory Of Development Many organizations fail at affecting meaningful change because of their desire to do too much at once. They argue that since they are making one change, why not fix all the ills of the past. Trying to make too many changes at once is a guarantee to collapse the key efforts. This is also another reason for someone opposed to new ideas to kill a change or development effort. The idea is very simple—when Wilber and Orville were trying to create powered flight, they weren’t trying to get 300 people to Chicago and provide a warm meal in flight. Their effort was simply powered flight. Keep focused on your objectives and not what will make everyone happy. With anything new, start with simple goals and a vision that can be attained. Visualize what you are trying to accomplish, see it clearly in your mind’s eye and move towards it. Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  9. 9. New Business Thinking 9 Development Idea: Pariah or Friend? Trust Strategic High Level Champion(s) Dedicated Resources Opportunities Proactive Spirit Successful new thinking and new development efforts begin with vision. In most business environments, new development has many faces. There is the face of the person or management team bringing the new development forward. And there is the face of the existing people that will be affected by the change or new development. Normally, these faces have opposing expressions. The need for change will most likely come from a market change, new competition or an idea at a board meeting. The next thing a business knows, wham, a new idea or development is under way. Once launched, the new development takes off like a freight train and the folks who need to implement it hear “we need this done yesterday!” Marketing impacts Operations. Sales impacts Transportation. Senior Management impacts Finance, and so on. The early days of any new development concept are the most important. Why? In these seconds, moments and hours, the new development concept spreads through a living organization like a virus — popping up all over the place, like symptoms of the flu. In most instances, the whole picture is not provided, just the basic visceral shape of the new development. “Did you hear, Bob M. is pushing this crazy idea to...” “I can’t believe with everything on our plates, they now want us to...” The corporate white blood cells quickly appear and attack the new idea or new development concept. Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  10. 10. 10 Before there is even an “official meeting,” the development effort is in the “negative” side of an organization’s mindset, fighting uphill just to get the attention to further define the concept and develop action steps. These are the moments that will decide how easily the development will move forward or how the effort might be D.O.A. before the second day. New Thinking Gem You can help ensure the success of new ideas by making sure to: • Identify all stakeholders • Assess the current players where they stand • Meet with upper management to consult with them —ask lots of questions, NO DEBATE • Craft a ROUGH process for managing change activities, new ideas, etc. Include: –Process map –Sample of how things will be communicated • Carry out an assessment of authority decision making (i.e. who owns what in authority – PICA) • Craft a stump speech presentation on the need for new ideas • Gain buy-in by upper management — AND build a core team­ — all different levels —  title means nothing How to Turn New Ideas into Favorite Babies Essential steps on turning new thinking and development into a “favorite baby” of the whole organization: 1. Senior Management Buy In Support—The sooner a development effort is given the open and outward support by senior management, the better for the effort. This needs to go beyond the cursory “memo to staff.” Instead, ask the most senior member of management to attend the launch meeting and talk about why the development effort is “important to the whole business” (even recognizing that this effort might conflict with existing priorities). Then over the months of development ask the senior manager to attend a few “update” project meetings (yes, even to hear the nitty gritty details). Have the senior manager send thank you notes out as the development effort unfolds (the development leaders should write the letters for the senior management — giving more details and specifics, again reinforcing management’s care and concern for the development efforts). 2. Low Profile It! —Most new development ideas are centered on an event or situation. This usually creates a sense of urgency and causes a person or team to want to talk about the idea with everyone, even if the team is “sworn to secrecy.” Typically, the idea or development effort is leaked within ten minutes of its creation. Human nature is about sharing and validation of an idea. The risk is that those corporate white blood cells will invade the new development before it has a chance to take hold. So when possible, keep the development idea as low profile as possible. Don’t share it at an open meeting and don’t send an e-mail on it. The fewer who know early on, the better! Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  11. 11. New Business Thinking 11 3. Selling The Idea— Write a list of who will be impacted by the new development and how you think they will perceive it. Then decide who will be the biggest supporters of the development efforts. First go to these people, one-on-one, and review the idea — in person, not via e-mail or a voice mail. Ask for their support as you move forward, but ask them to keep it to themselves at this time. Then meet with the “potential problem” people. Do not hold a planned meeting; instead, hold impromptu meetings. “Hey Bob ‘Don’t-give-me-another-thing-to-do’ Smith, do you have a second...” Go grab a soda and ask him/her a question about the development topic, but DO NOT drop the idea on them fully formed. Instead, get them to be part of the idea. “Bob, what do you think about the XYZ issue and what do you think we can do to help...” Nine times out of ten the person will get to where they are thinking on their own. Drop in bits pieces of your idea during the conversation, and end it before the idea and/or development concept is fully realized. Look at your watch and say, “Oh hey sorry for taking so much of your time, keep thinking about this, great points. Let’s regroup later to talk about it more...” Then regroup no later than the next morning, with the person and a key supporter from the core group. Again, hold a non-official meeting to talk a little more about the idea, but start to flesh it out. And give the person the “ownership and the initiative” around the idea. “Hey Bob and I were talking yesterday, and he raised some interesting points...” And get Bob talking. Again, guide the conversation via questions, not bold statements. By the end of the meeting Bob will start to feel like the idea is his, and lo and behold when the moment comes to bring the idea forward with management and the team that will be impacted, Bob “Don’t-give-me-another-thing-to-do” Smith is actually openly supporting the idea. 4. Diffuse Power—So many times a new development opportunity creates a sense of power in the mind of the “idea owner.” You receive support from upper management, and maybe budgets, people, cross-functional teams, etc. This false sense of power and leadership can fall as quickly as Captain Bligh and Mr. Christian on the HMS Bounty. The next thing you know, you are afloat, alone with the development project turned development issue. Early on, give up ownership of the idea and the development approach. Divide up the responsibilities and give them to others to own and drive. Act more as a coach, a listening post, a recommendation maker and a train engineer and less like the “friendly old dictator...” Relinquishing power is difficult, especially on the ego. But it will help develop a sense that this new development need is owned by many and not the “glory catching” single driver. At every chance, give others and/or the group recognition to upper management. Remind people of their value and their responsibilities to the development effort. 5. Celebrate! —This is left out of most development activities. By celebrating the kick-off, milestones along the way and the end launch, you build excitement, team attitudes and positive feelings about the development effort. Also, sending quick hand-written thank you notes adds a sense of personal care and focus. All these actions drive the team to tie their identity to the success of the development effort. Development success has less to do with the technology being used, the budget that is available, etc. and more to do with the mindset and the personal intent, desire and “what’s in-it-for-me” of each of those impacted by the development activity. Leaving these personal impact points out of the development process will create a ten ton millstone around the neck of the development owner, making it difficult for the development effort to take off or succeed. Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  12. 12. 12 Do You Trust Them? “And in an era when more and more work is done long distance by e-mail or by phone, relationship building, paradoxically, becomes more crucial than ever.” – Primal Leadership, p51 Yes A key part of this stage is assessing your influence and the influence of the enemies of the idea or new development. Finding those idea blockers is critical. Many times an obvious opponent is easier to deal with than a bedfellow (who you do not trust or know their true stance) and/or an adversary who is subversive and malicious. At least with an opponent you clearly know their stance, issues and problems — and sometimes you can address them and move them to being a supporter. distance by e-mail or by ? Adversary Yes No and more work is done long Opponent No Trust “ nd in an era when more A Ally Bedfellow phone, relationship building, paradoxically, becomes more crucial than ever.” —Primal Leadership, p51 Agreement Focus: Critical Mass Not Consensus Wharton Business School, 2007 New Thinking Gem “Mickey Mouse, to me, is a symbol of independence. He was the means to an end. He popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at a lowest ebb, and disaster seemed right around the corner. Born of necessity, the little fellow literally freed us of immediate worry. He provided the means for expanding our organization to its present dimensions and for extending the medium of cartoon animation towards new entertainment levels. He spelled production liberation for us.” —Walt Disney, 1955 Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  13. 13. New Business Thinking 13 Collaborate Or Die: Where Is Your Sustainable Competitive Advantage? The enemy is everywhere. Trust no one. If you want something done right then do it yourself. If we didn’t build it then it must be second rate. These are pretty basic thoughts most of us have heard over and over again — ones that go back to being a 10 year old, looking at the world as if no one else could ever understand you, your ideas and your feelings. As we grow up and move on we take these feelings with us. We join companies that are structured around keeping knowledge in-house, under cover and wrapped up with non-competes, exclusives and non-disclosures. The reality of business survival today is that “collaborate or die” should be tattooed on a manager’s forehead. Why foreheads? So that everyone can see that it is okay to work with others who are not “in the fold.” Not only do companies have a hard time with collaboration with other businesses, but also other departments within the same company! New technologies, new players and new business models have made the old way of thinking about business look like the WW I French Maginot Line (a 100-mile underground fortress built by the French after WW I to prepare for possible future invasion from Germany). As soon as it was built, a really neat new technology was developed that made it obsolete — the airplane. The old line thinking of trenching, stonewalling, and “must be made here” is worthless in a world where any manager can readily find tons of information on any possible topic on the Internet. In a world where any employee can e-mail the CEO of their company and where everything is being built for ease of communication and sharing (i.e. files, data, documents, thoughts and even emotions) the old way of doing things just doesn’t work. Changing to a culture of collaboration needs to start with the people, managers and business drivers within an organization — especially those who still fear the “unknown” of collaboration, or even worse, want collaboration to be one-sided in their favor. They must overcome their fear that “If I collaborate, maybe others will not think I’m important, or I’m not worth the salary I’m paid.” An important attitudinal change is needed and it needs to start in the schools, the associations, and the journals of business. It’s okay not to do everything yourself. It’s okay to look for partners, and others to “jointly” develop and grow a business, a product or a technology. Collaboration begins not with engineers, or research people, or IT people; it begins with the business managers of a company and their willingness to look outside their fortresses. Many U.S. businesses have spent a great deal of time and money to create a culture that looks at anyone not on the payroll as a threat, a leak, someone that is not to be trusted. Collaboration requires defined and tested trust, and a willingness to start with the idea that the other person might just bring something of value! The Maginot Lines that companies build (even the new’s—where “you must drink the Kool-Aid or you are not to be trusted”) will become as useless as the physical one built by the French. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use sound judgment. You still need to make sure that your mission to collaborate is filled with exploration, with due diligence, with reviews and written understandings. Rather, it means beginning to think about collaboration as a good thing to do — whether with another business (even a competitor), or another department, or even just one other individual in your company. Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  14. 14. 14 Corporate isolationism causes people to become unprepared for what the market will drop on a company or industry. This isolationism, this inability to grow beyond a corporation’s brand and knowledge, leads to big problems. When all answers come from within, then most of the answers are merely mirror images of nods and agreements. In the end progress is either not found or it’s forced. Collaboration can speed up new ideas and offerings, and reduce development costs and stress on an organization. It can lead to new ideas never thought of before when a business looks outward. So maybe the French government at the start of the last century would have been wiser to spend the $100 million (in 1920 dollars) to find ways to bring the two countries together and work together, than to separate them (both physically and culturally). Collaboration is not consensus management, however. Consensus management is the destroyer of advancement. Consensus management is creator of all things mediocre and “plain vanilla.” Consensus management is what happens when there is a lack of direction, passion and a will that shows no element of leadership. Instead, collaboration is the honest sharing and mingling of the strengths of two, three or more businesses, people and/or products to create something new, and sometimes something bold. Collaboration requires a direction and demands true leadership. Collaboration strengthens, while consensus management weakens. Collaboration Tips: Look through your industry association directory and send letters introducing yourself and your products/services. Even give the letter a tone of “Not sure where this will end up, but I wanted to touch base and...” Find the top five companies who are focused on providing services or features that would add value to your company or its products, but for which you can’t afford the development costs, and see if they want to become a supplier, partner, or joint marketer. Meet the competition. Talk with them at tradeshows, at conferences and maybe even on their turf. Sometimes you will find that you have more in common than you think. There might be opportunities to carry out industry wide development or research efforts that will help both companies. And sometimes, there might be opportunities to build combination products (this has been done successfully in the agricultural chemical industry for years) where two competing products are combined to create a new third product that both can sell. The client can sometimes be the best place to look for ideas on collaboration. Clients love to serve as mentors or industry experts. Ask them how you can make your products or services better, or who does it best in their minds. Based on this information build a target list of possible collaborators and extend the hand of interest first. Attend conferences that might be vertical in nature and/or specific to an industry and walk the floor. Listen to the speakers. Form some new ideas or bring some with you. Have a simple leave behind on your business/product. Then go at it; speak with as many people as possible, listen to as many ideas as there are booths to look at. Don’t go with the goal to sell anything—just to meet, talk and grow your understanding of the businesses and people in the industry. For collaboration to work it is necessary to have the mindset that it’s OK for us and the other business to make profit, and that we will have some bumps along the way but the end destination is one we need/want/are excited about reaching. Remember that few things are perfect and that perfection is a dream we work towards but seldom, if ever, reach. Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  15. 15. New Business Thinking 15 So You Want To Be A Change Agent? It seems that many who ended up as the leader of a change initiative or the spokesperson for change within an organization didn’t start out with that goal in mind. Instead it was either thrust upon them or it evolved over time. The next thing they know they are “Captain Change” within the business — which could be great if the culture desires change, or, more often than not, this person gets branded with the scarlet “CP” for change pain. So it is important that you think about, recognize and consciously make the decision to walk this path. It can be very, very lonely at times. You need to be tough and have thick skin. Most importantly, realize what you are doing and do it because you want to, not because you are forced to. Be the driver of your destiny. So as you look at this path, key a few things into your thinking: • Be comfortable in your own skin, but not cocky and belligerent • Be passionate, but do not take criticism personally • Be prolific at communications (written verbal) • Do not care about recognition for the idea, let the team receive the praise • Make sure you are aligned with your top management — and make sure your risk/reward is tied to performance results • Sense of humor is a plus (especially the ability to laugh at yourself) • You must be motivated from within, drive to accomplish the unthinkable because you want to learn, grow and make a difference • Be open, transparent and accessible • Your role will be part sales, part planning, part visionary, part pragmatist, part project manager, part marketing, part operations and part legal – it’s a mixed bag of tricks • Be creative at packaging ideas, taking complicated things and making them simple • Excel at listening and bringing thinking forward based on organizational goals and individual preferences • Show the ability to create a realistic sense of urgency that is accepted by all areas of a business • Be seen as a collaborator, not a competitor “ wo roads diverged in a T wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” –Robert Frost “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” — Robert Frost New Thinking Gem Change Agents are part: • • • • Master Networker Motivator Project Manager Challenge Lover • • • • Storyteller Positive Spirit Realist Problem Solver • Writer • Fence Mender • Trusted Advisor In The End The Change Starts With You Live your life as if change and new thinking are your best friends. Do not work, live and love with the goal of not rocking the boat — as if the idea is to make it to your grave with the words “made it” on the headstone. Instead, live as if the change was expected. Walk the paths of life with a sense of hope and purpose. Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  16. 16. 16 Start the change within your business by changing your way of seeing things. Do not determine your value to your family, company or world by what you have done, or have accumulated, or could have done. Instead, base it on the here and now — the actions of today. Start by realizing that you are valuable when you are engaged, thinking and interacting. Step forward and start making a change in big and small ways. Do not be afraid to do things differently, to challenge the status quo, to open eyes. Be different, that is okay. The world needs different and you will be more fulfilled for being that way. Those who have gone before us and have made a difference by embracing, spearheading and championing change lead lives filled with challenges — but great rewards. They mattered in many ways to many lives. Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Teddy Roosevelt and many others made a difference by embracing a change filled world and helping shape that change by being in the thick of it all! Dirty Little Secrets of Idea Creation • Most new ideas are DOA because there has been no pre-thought or planning— “hey I was thinking” or “lightning bolts” • New ideas are usually brought for review before those who will be impacted the most, creating a breakdown in review and questionable objectivity • Research is about what was and what is, rarely what might be—it is a look back via snapshots • “Must be built here” thinking is deadly to advancement • Big group brainstorms do not generate big thinking results—Consensus Kills Recommended Reading: The Art Of The Long View by Peter Schwartz The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes by William Ury Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne The Soul of a Business: Managing For Profit And The Common Good by Tom Chappell Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don’t by Jim Collins Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions by John Kotter The Trusted Advisor by David Maister Rob Galford Recommended Websites:  click on Change Insight Tool in upper corner  take The Temperament Test About the Author David Carrithers is vice president of marketing for Vienna, VA-based Centennial Contractors Enterprises and past chair of the Center for JOC Excellence. He has over 25 years of marketing, change management, brand and sales experience and has managed brand assets valued in the multi-billions of dollars for brands such as American Express, MasterCard, General Motors, ATT, Air Products Chemicals, Motorola, Bell South, MM Mars, Rich Products, Xerox, Diebold, American Cyanamid, etc. He can be reached at or (703) 287-3042. Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  17. 17. New Business Thinking  |  Appendix: Key Slides 17 The Last 100 Years Steady State CHANGE Steady State Today’s Reality Head Waters: Always In Change Globalization, Capital, Technology 1 Evaluating Your Environment For Accepting New Ideas Dimension Associated Questions Challenge • How challenged am I? • How emotionally involved in the success of the organization am I? • How committed to the work am I? Freedom • How much autonomy do I have to do my job? Idea Time • Do we have sufficient time to think about the consequences of a series of ideas? Idea Support • Do we have some resources available to try new ideas? Center of Creative Studies SUNY Buffalo 2 Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  18. 18. 18 Evaluating Your Environment For Accepting New Ideas Dimension Associated Questions Trust Openness • Do we feel safe in offering our opinions? • Are different points of view valued? • How relaxed is the workplace? Playfulness Humor • Is it acceptable to have fun at work? Conflicts • To what level do people engage in interactions that are fraught with conflict? Risk Taking •To what level does the organization support risk taking and accept failure as a part of the process? Center of Creative Studies SUNY Buffalo 3 What Is The Foundation Of A Culture Of Ideas Strategic Relationships Internal/External Mutual Trust Common Goals Open Communication Commitment To Mutual Gain Organizational Support 4 Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  19. 19. New Business Thinking  |  Appendix: Key Slides 19 Steps To Bring Successful New Thinking Forward ! Assessment of current state of business, product, market, area to be impacted ! Velocity – sense of movement forward tied with urgency ! Alignment with company, product, division goals ! Assess stakeholders (who are they) ! Gain support and alignment with high level management team (the highest level) ! Build a cross functional team of different level people looking to make a difference – break from the pack (maybe incentive on thinking) 5 Steps To Bring Successful New Thinking Forward ! Need ongoing forum and venue to talk about new ideas, concepts, changes ! Variety of tools to share thinking and encourage dialog and support – reduce concern or contempt ! Clear vision and understanding of new idea and change needed ! Relinquish power to others as idea takes shape ! Target digestible chunks – building wins over time ! Consistent focus and movement forward 6 Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  20. 20. 20 Stage One: Building An Idea Accepting Environment ! ! ! ! Map Out All Stakeholders Assess The Current Players Where They Stand Meet With Upper Management To Consult With Them – Ask Lots Of Questions, NO DEBATE Craft A ROUGH Process For Managing Change Activities, New Ideas, etc. Include: ! Process Map ! Sample of How Things Will Be Communicated, Like Positioning Documents ! ! ! Carry Out An Assessment Of Authority Decision Making (i.e. Who Owns What In Authority – PICA) Craft A Stump Speech Presentation On Need For New Ideas Gain Buy In By Uppers – AND Build A Core Team – All Different Levels – Title Means Nothing 7 Elements Of Successful Strategic Idea Development Focus A common vision for the relationship, with agreed strategies and activities Trust Open communication and disclosure of business drivers Performance Continuous improvement towards agreed targets People Clearly defined roles and responsibilities Proactive Anticipating business needs and providing creative solutions Profit at Risk Establishing real metrics to drive behavior for all involved 8 Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  21. 21. New Business Thinking  |  Appendix: Key Slides 21 Case Study – Successful Change From To Bugs / Weeds Products Customer Crops 15,000 Dealers Agri-Centers Farmer As Hick MBA Farmers Stand Alone Brands Combined Brands Keys To Change: Leadership had vision based on a desire to set the company and brand apart; operations/product management/ marcom collapsed silos; prevalent strategic thinking and planning; timing was everything – sized the moment; over communicated internal and external Results: 35% Market Share in Soybean and Corn markets, combined all ag products together, moved from number five to number two in industry in three years 9 Case Study – Successful Change From Nitrogen / Hydrogen To Industry Segments One Of Many MegaSys – Single Source Industrial Marketing Brand Strategic Marketing Raw Development Targeted Technologies Keys To Change: Leadership changes in key roles; realized growth would come from a market focus not just operational efficiency; clear goal to be global leader in gases and gas technologies; customers demanded more than just solid delivery Results: Number one gases company in the world, 25% growth in new markets, acquired number one competitor, steady returns, high level of employee satisfaction 10 Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  22. 22. 22 Case Study – Successful Change From 100% Sales Focus To Product Markets Many Companies Single Customer Source No Planning Business Strategic Planning Limited Merch. Focus New Product Every 3 Months Keys To Change: Market shift and loss of revenue forced new thinking; right leaders at the right time; processes in place to bring new ideas forward Results: Shift from a cash strapped model to a cash flush one, ability to recapture old and new customers (60% of growth from new customers), regained market leadership 11 Case Study – Successful Change From Buried Division To Stand Alone Company 100% AMEX Joint Venture Single Product Full Line Of Offering Order Taking Solutions Consulting Keys To Change: Previous failed attempts over three years; flawed research; patent infringement; unsanctioned development efforts; shift in MasterCard leadership Results: Successfully launched within 3 months new 120 person company with 10,000 customers and over $400M in sales year one, now most successful stored value card provider in the industry with patented technology Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc. 12
  23. 23. New Business Thinking  |  Appendix: Key Slides 23 Case Study – Difficult Change From Nonprofit Mentality To Retail Environment Limited Revenue Stream Multi Streams Offerings Unprofessional Well Organized Leader Order Taking Solutions Consulting Drivers To Challenges: Business model was not well understood; full understanding of issues not known until too late; aggressive and premeditated attacks and employees not committed; change didn’t happen fast enough; lack of industry support Results: Business was shut down and assets were successfully sold off, all charities were taken care of but 200 people lost jobs and vision of a unique business was lost 13 Case Study – In Progress Change From Stealth To Proactive Brand Operational Only Marketing Sales 100% Federal 50/50 Fed/ Non-Fed Single Offering - JOC Performance-based Key To Change: Sold from private owner to public international corporation; shift in Federal marketplace loss of market share; requirement to grow business nationally Results To Date: Early indicators are positive, 50% of business now non-Federal and 20% in new offerings, successful launch of evolved branding, salesforce in place 14 Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc.
  24. 24. 24 A Final Challenge To All Of You Many live and guide their lives by fear of failure or fear of the unknown. MADE IT! Break this path and thinking – reach out and do what you have been thinking. Have a conversation with your boss, or a peer, or someone you respect, (even a perceived enemy) and talk about what could be. Do what scares you the most – you will learn a great deal more and grow as a person. 15 Thinking Differently: Attracting A Recommended Reading To Help Team To Drive Change Constant White Water Change ! The Art Of The Long View by Peter Schwartz !The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes by William Ury ! Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne ! The Soul of a Business: Managing For Profit And The Common Good by Tom Chappell !Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by Jim Collins Must Build Integrated Communities Of Cooperation ! Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions Collaboration Based On Trust by John Kotter Focused On A Bigger Picture Making ! The Trusted Advisor by David Maister Rob Galford Change Fun, Understood Supported Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc. 17 16