Tag: Scott Burrows Change Management Speaker

Are You Determined to Be a Change Agent for Your Company?

As a motivational speaker for companies facing ongoing industry challenges in the marketplace, I am fascinated by change agents who have the determination to step up and make a meaningful impact in their organizations.

Who are the Change Agents in Your Company?

When I am delivering keynote addresses on change management, I often ask the following question of audience: “Picture the change agents in your organization. Whose face comes to mind?” The most common answers include the CEO, the human resources director or even the social media department.

In an insightful article that appeared in Forbes magazine, business writer stated “Change management is no longer a term that denotes only operational improvements, cost efficiencies and process reengineering…change management has become a much bigger, more interwoven part of the overall business fabric…that plays into everything that we do, every day, and how we go about getting things done, regardless of hierarchy or rank.”

The change agent includes the marketing manager, the accounts payable people and you. In fact, the most important change agent in your company is you, whatever your position on the hierarchy of the corporate ladder.

We are All Change Agents

Earlier this year, the management department of Michigan State University presented an article entitled The Qualities of Effective Change Agents. They did not rank change agents by position, high to low, but emphasized five important traits all change agents must possess, and in this order:  Flexibility, Diversified Knowledge, Priority and Results Focus, Ownership and Responsibility, and Effective Listening Skills.

Each trait requires three components that I address in my motivational change management keynote addresses:  the vision to understand why it is important, the mindset to make it happen, and the daily grit to overcome any obstacles that may prevent change from happening.

For example, as part of an acquisition an organization may need to implement a new company-wide software system. An employee committed to change will have the vision to see why it is important to diversify and expand knowledge, the determination to excel at understanding the system’s complexities, and the grit to learn and study every day.

Becoming Invaluable

Being a change agent requires making yourself invaluable. In times of transition, executive leaders will actively seek out employees who embrace change. Indeed, the Robert Half management consulting firm stresses the following point in their tips for change success:

“Involve employees as soon as goals are set. Ask their opinions and get their input on how the business runs today and what they believe should be changed.”

Executive leaders want those on their team who are determined to help rather than hinder, and who are willing to go the extra mile to make change successful and to be flexible in their thinking. Change is not always easy but change agents will always be recognized as those who made it happen. Be determined to make it happen.

Contact Scott Burrows, Motivational Speaker for Change Agents and Change in Organizations through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

 

The Challenge of Buggy-Whips, Slide Rules, VCRs, and Caramel Macchiatos

 

In delivering motivational keynotes on adapting, reinventing, and the flexibility needed in the modern organization, it is important to illustrate what happens when companies fail to change. Unless a business – or industry – is determined to change, it may cling to an old vision that is not only counterproductive to growth, but hopeless in offering a solution.

To illustrate my point, a great example is a publicly-traded company (I won’t tell you its name until the end of this post) that only 16 years ago had $5 billion in sales, more than 9,000 stores and 60,000 employees. Their stock certificates can now be used as wallpaper. At nearly the same time, a forward-looking organization seeing the incredible change the internet was about to bring launched its service. The company, having adapted to what was the new internet market, is currently worth about $150 billion.

Change is a Mindset, Not a Fear

It was the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates who observed something that could apply to any keynote speech on adapting, reinventing, and being flexible in today’s business world: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but building the new.”

Change is a mindset, not a fear.

It was the “Chicken Man,” Frank Perdue, who said: “A business that doesn’t change is a business that is going to die.” Prior to Perdue launching what would eventually become a $6 billion company, his competitors were largely non-branded, disjointed companies. Perdue was determined to create a major niche in the industry by advertising and branding his product. They laughed at him. It was not long before the Perdue brand was asked for by name.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote: “Grow with discipline. Balance intuition with rigor. Innovate around the core…make the tough choices…be decisive in times of crisis. Be nimble. Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes. Be responsible for what you see, hear, and do. Believe.”

In other words, be adaptable and be flexible. You may fall down, but there is wisdom that naturally comes from the lessons that have been learned from falling. You must develop the grit to get back up if you fail. Change is not easy. Despite the incredible success of Starbucks or Amazon for that matter, there were points in their growth when they could have failed. They developed strategic plans, they overcame “disagreements” within their ranks, and they both established a pattern of “do as I do, not as I say.” There was no task that Howard Schultz preached that he did not do himself.

Another famous example is one of the original officers of Costco, James (Jim) Sinegal. Sinegal routinely dropped into stores around the world, often unannounced, and helped bag orders if he noticed customers waiting too long in a line. The customers never suspected who he was. He never took a salary of more than $350,000 annually.

Sinegal, Schultz and Perdue wanted to be close to the action and to observe any changes to their industry first-hand to quickly adapt and reinvent their operations. They worked with managers, vendors, distributors and employees to constantly learn and to explore new options and avenues.

This was something that the executives at Blockbuster never cared to do. When Netflix launched in 2007, Blockbuster, much like old buggy-whip manufacturers, failed to heed what they needed to do to adapt. They lacked the mindset and the determination to change. They never recovered.

Contact Scott Burrows, Motivational Keynote and Breakout Speaker on Adapting, Reinventing and Flexibility through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

 

We Talk About Change Management, but What Does it Really Mean?

 

As I deliver so many motivational keynotes on Change Management, a question I am frequently asked is “What does change management really mean?” It is not so naïve a question. There are many meanings and many answers. For example, to a company undergoing a merger, change management to the CFO is often not the same thing as it is to the CIO or to the Vice President of Manufacturing.

Bart Perkins, writing for CIO’s online magazine (April 12, 2018) had several observations important to share on the topic of defining change management.

His observations about those in IT can apply to most any employee in any department:

“Many people view their value to the organization as being a good technical architect, programmer, or security specialist. When asked to take on a different role, they may become very uncomfortable…once they are no longer rewarded for the skills that made them successful, employees may question their purpose.”

If you would like, think of a marketing manager, quality assurance specialist or an accountant having to take on new roles and working with new people. When they are forced to leave their comfort zones, what will happen to the role they worked so hard to establish?

Another observation Perkins made on change management was, “Individuals must be willing to examine new information and adopt new behaviors and approaches. Since most people prefer the status quo, this can be difficult.”

Inertia

What is it about change management that is such a difficult process? As an inspirational speaker on the topic, I think I can sum it up in one word: inertia.

Many organizations undergoing a transformation quickly discover that prior to making changes, their employees are locked into a cycle of indifference, disengagement and fear. The fear, incidentally, often stems from an understanding that if employees were previously motivated to make changes at their initiative, they were often penalized for doing so. They may not have started out that way, they may have at one time been eager to make a difference, but over time they felt their initial motivation to contribute and participate was futile.

Change management, in all of its phases, requires employees to re-ignite and re-energize their vision. It is not so easy a task. In fact, it is a two-way street.

Overcoming inertia requires determination not only from individual employees but from the corporate or organizational entity itself. The organization that is undergoing change or has undergone change must reach out to their most valuable asset, their employees, to help. The employees must know that they are the difference; they are the change agents.

Neither is change management solely about organizational charts or the implementation of new technologies. It is personal. This personal investment does not happen by accident; it takes an individual vision on the part of the employee, the determination to make that vision happen, and the grit to work at it every day.

Overcoming inertia is the opposite of settling for so-so; it is the mindset of never being content with “good enough.” I know from both personal and business experience that there will be days when the change that is required will be difficult. I also know that overcoming inertia and never settling for apathy causes people and their organizations to soar. That is the true essence of where change management can take us.

 

Contact Scott Burrows, Inspirational Keynote Speaker on Change Management today, through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169