Change is a constant feature in our lives. In both the professional and private sphere, it’s important to be able to adapt, welcome new things, make mistakes, and learn from them. I always ask myself the question: Why is change so important for us and why do we need change? I can’t and wouldn’t want to attempt to answer this question in its entirety, as there are so many facets that one could write entire volumes of books on the subject. Instead, I will focus solely on the topic of business culture.
Let’s begin by saying that cultural development in general – and a business’s cultural development in particular – is never complete. Anyone who entertains the idea that the process of change can be complete and thus believes it to be so is setting themselves up for failure. Change is a living process that never ends. It’s like music – music is never simply “done;” it continues to evolve, as it should, in various directions. It’s important to keep one eye on the future as we carry out our daily work in order to anticipate risks, develop measures to counter these risks, and introduce these measures as early as possible. This may sound like an impossible task – and I admit it’s a very difficult one – but it nevertheless applies, to a greater or lesser extent, to each and every one of us.
So let’s return to the initial question. I want to try to answer this question by introducing you to the hugely inspiring book “Who moved my cheese” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. This allegorical tale focuses on four characters and their different ways of dealing with change. Sniff and Scurry are two mice who set off to hunt for cheese together after discovering that Cheese Station C has run out. They were prepared for this task as they had already noticed the dwindling supplies and knew that they would inevitably have to find more cheese one day. The other two characters are Hem and Haw – two little people who are very surprised when they find Cheese Station C empty. Initially, Hem and Haw are both angry and annoyed. Even in this desperate situation, Hem stubbornly dismisses Haw’s suggestion to go in search of new cheese. He is too firmly stuck in his routine and is scared of the unknown. Meanwhile, Haw decides to take his chances and enters the maze to find new cheese. Is he successful? What happens to Hem?! You can find out by reading the book or watching the film: Who moved my Cheese The Movie by Dr Spencer Johnson.
The story of your company features far more than four characters – and each one of them is likely to respond to change in a different way. There are people like Haw, who are afraid of change initially but are likely to come around once they’ve had time to think and understand why it’s necessary. But you will also have characters like Hem, who are not willing to change at all. These people require even more time and attention. Thankfully, there will also be people like Sniff and Scurry, who are always ready and willing to change. Now it’s up to you: Do you understand the need for change? Do you know your organization and all its various stakeholders? Are you aware that the change management process can take months, years or even decades? And most importantly: Do you and the people in your organization accept the fact that change is necessary for personal development? If so, you’re on the right track – keep it up!
About the author
Patrick graduated with a master’s degree in business informatics at the beginning of 2013 and then spent a half-year-long stint working as a social business consultant at a large digital solutions agency in the UK. He has returned to Berlin to strengthen the Pokeshot team as a Junior Consultant for Social Business Strategy and now as Chief Consulting Officer.