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PrefaceThe Truth About Thriving in Change
"A must read for managers, Bill uses language with care, economy, and precision. Managing change is basically about helping people deal with uncertainty. This writing effectively uses a combination of practical experience, common sense, and humor in describing strategies designed to achieve desired results while maintaining morale and enhancing engagement."
Michael Mimnaugh, Vice President, Human Resources,
Sony Corporation of America
"Challenging long-accepted common sense, the 'Truths' will cause all of us involved with managing change to look in the mirrorand certainly to get away from our desks."
Patricia Kelly Schmitt, Vice President, Human Resources,
Global Animal Health and Consumer HealthCare,
"This book is truly a practical resource for leaders on how to handle the multitude of personal and professional challenges faced by managers every day. The content is well organized in a logical, easy-to-use format with each truth presented in a bite-sized, easily digested segment. I would recommend this book to managers searching for 'Truths' on how to enhance their effectiveness in constantly changing business environments."
Thomas G. Moran, Vice President, Human Resources,
"To be inspiring, to be tough and empathic, to set a vision, and to move an organization toward audacious goals is frightening and often overwhelming. This page-turner takes the essentials and breaks the process into 49 Truthseasy to adopt behaviors and watch-outsthat are easy to read, remember, and bring to life daily."
Dede LaMarche, US HR Business Partner,
FMC Agricultural Products Group
"This book is about a set of propositions that you, as a leader, can call on for all occasions dealing with the management of change. Bill has organized the collective wisdom, stated in the form of 'Truths', which can guide novices, seasoned corporate veterans, and those of us in the midst of organization transitions. You will be able to compare your ideas with concise and precisely stated maxims that will stimulate you to become even more articulate about developing your own versions of the 'Truths' about change. That is worth the price of admission!"
Charles Seashore, Ph.D., Professor, Fielding Graduate University
"Many students are under the impression that a graduate degree will impart all wisdom, but what they fail to recognize is that there is no substitute for experience. What Bill's book does so well is to impart his substantial experiencealong with the textbook knowledgeto move you ahead in your career. If you manage people or projects, the wisdom found within each 'Truth' will help keep you on the leading edge of your profession. This is a reference guide that belongs in your library."
Stuart J. Lipper, Senior Director of MBA Programs,
Rutgers Business School, Rutgers,
The State University of New Jersey
Business/Human Resources Consultants
"This is a worthwhile read for any and all managers. It flows topically and builds in an integrated fashion. The format is reader-friendly and the messages are 'tried and true,' while avoiding the usual boilerplate platitudes. You cannot help but come away with some ideas on how to improve your change management skills."
Robert M. Marino, President, Alpha Nouveau Consulting, Inc.
"With business acumen, a human resources perspective, and behavioral research as the writing's fundamental underpinnings, this book quenches the long and desperate thirst of managers in the corporate community on how to lead a team through the sometimes-dizzying maze of change."
William D. Cassidy III, Ph.D., President,
Human Resources International LLC
"Anyone interested in changing people and changing organizations will want this book in their library. It provides important insights into organizations and their need for change, yet recognizes that authentic change comes from within people. Only by changing people can we change organizations. Bill provides valuable discussion of the information, decision criteria, and tools needed to accelerate the change process. Its power lies in its simplicity, accessibility, and pragmatism."
Richard W. Beatty, Ph.D., Coauthor of The Workforce Scorecard
"Rooted in research and personal experience, Bill's writing is true to its purposeoffering a therapeutic blend of wisdom, compassion, and highly practical application that will undoubtedly help leaders overcome what ails them and their organizations, and allow them not just to survive but to thrive in continuous change."
Laurie Murphy, President, PeopleAreKey, Inc.
Training and Development Practitioners
"Years of designing and delivering training programs have taught me that managers value short, practical guides to various subjects. They will not be disappointed here. The 'Truths'and their practicalityare an ideal basis for personal effectiveness enhancement or leadership development."
David J. Owen, Vice President, Global Learning & Development,
International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc.
"Although we know that change is constant, we are always surprised by it. Bill provides a roadmap to successfully navigate corporate change. Being conscientious to follow the 'Truths' will enable people to successfully face any organizational challenge."
Rosina Racioppi, President and Chief Operating Officer,
WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.
"Having been involved over my 33 year career with 7 different companies that were experiencing significant change, 5 of which I was CEO, I related to the 'Truths.' I especially enjoyed the brevity and clarity in which the points were made. It functions more like a guide, providing straightforward examples that drive the point and makes for easy reading and future referral."
Brian Fitzpatrick, President and Chief Executive Officer,
Bentley Labs LLC
"Bill clearly demonstrates that successful change doesn't come in a can; he provides practical tools and sound advice that can be applied to achieve the desired results of any change effort."
Mike Ruiz, Director of Process Integration, North Jersey Media Group
As a human resources practitioner, I have been fortunate in my 25-year career to be a student, participant, and leader of successful organizational change. And while the environments and industries have been diverse, my observations about these processes have yielded a common theme. For organizational change to have the highest probability for success, on any scale, management must clearly identify and align the vision, strategy, tactics, and collective values of the organizationas the catalysts and cornerstones of the desired end state.
Done properly, management can help organizational participants embrace change processes for the enterprise to be merged, stabilized, started up, or repositioned in a way to satisfy most stakeholders in a relatively condensed timeframe.
Less than optimal direction setting or poor execution leads to an erosion of employee motivation, engagement, and productivity. Commitment falls by the side, goal attainment becomes elusive, and everyone is running for the lifeboats.
This writing offers guidance and hope for managers trying to keep their head above water in times of rising tides by dispelling organizational myths and providing practical advice for the newly appointed supervisor, as well as the seasoned corporate veteran. It includes a combination of "tried-and-true" success stories, lessons learned from failures, "how-to" human resources advice, related anecdotes, and research from contemporary thought leaders about large and small-scale organizational change.
The ideas presented in this book aren't mutually exclusive, but they're universally applicable. Stylistically, some Truths are more conceptual, while otherswith more comprehensive "to-do's"should satisfy the most demanding pragmatists.
As a framework, I recognize that my professional experiences will not mirror yours, because every individual and organization is unique. However, I am confident that this writing can help you avoid a few bumps and foster your own individual capabilities for managing optimal and sustained performance.
What is organizational change?
Coaching third-grade soccer is hard. It requires skills assessment, planning, discipline, and coordination. It involves blending talents and teaching the players to fight their natural tendency to chase the ball all at once. Plays must be carefully scripted and yet have allowances for some individual improvisation.
As the coach, it requires personal investment, energy, and patience. It causes you to keep fingers crossed with hope and an aspirin bottle nearby for frustration. However, there is no more enjoyable reward than watching the ball sail into the back of your opponent's net.
Organizational change shares all these characteristics, with some additional complexities. It's an ongoing journey with multiple destinations and no real endpoint. It's characterized by multiple contradictionsthe need to balance a short- and long-term per-spective; the need to blend or select conservative and liberal points of view; the ability to be objective when analyzing subjective matters; the talent to have patience when time is of the essence; and the ability to let go of old practices, processes, and mindsets while gravitating toward new ones.
For the purposes of this writing, managing change is the all-encompassing process by which you confront or overcome challenges or seize new opportunities by perpetually transforming the organization from its current state to a state deemed more desirable through tapping new or improved ideas, suggestions, and processes, and applying them toward previously unrealized potential.
The mantra of organizational change is "better, faster, and cheaper." Its three most important elements are speed, speed, and more speed.
The benefits of organizational change
Change, even for the sake of change, can have many benefits beyond process improvements, market share enhancement, or greater profitability. It offers individual and collective learning opportunities. It may also heighten employee engagement and interest in work, thus increasing productivity and job satisfaction. Likewise, employees will have a greater sense of pride and ownership if they participate.
What's different today?
Every generation has its business and economic challenges. The dialogue in today's corporate boardrooms and its ripple effect to the shop floors about the need for change is dramatically different and far more complex than it was even ten years ago.
First and foremost, bottom-line performance continues to be a mandate.
Second, the means to attain positive results is critical as stakeholders are demanding that ethics and organizational values be communicated and adhered to within an organizationat all levels and at all times. This includes having appropriate checks and balances (Sarbanes-Oxley, etc.) established for all aspects of corporate governance and policy.
Third, organizational leaders must be students of current events as the breadth and depth of issues to be considered, planned for, and reacted to expand on a global basis in real-time. Concerns about international political and economic instability have broad business implications.
Fourth, within domestic borders, organizational leaders must grapple with uncertainty in stock market valuations; quarter-to-quarter performance pressures; political, societal, and demographic shifts; technology changes; and inflationary concerns.
These changesand others across the world and in our backyard are happening faster and harder than ever, making related organi-zational change the primary and continuous challenge for all man-agement. It takes real focus and fortitude to survive, much less prosper.
Is the time right?
Is the time ever right? In The 7 Habits of Highly EffectivePeople, Stephen Covey speaks of a trap that often proves too attractive for many to resist. It seems a lumberjack had been working feverishly to cut down a large tree; however, he made only limited progress in several hours. When asked by a passerby why he did not take the time to sharpen the bladeto speed along his endeavorthe lumberjack replied that he was too busy sawing. Managing organizational change is a continual sharpening of the saw.
Is there a checklist you can follow?
Leading and managing change is about
- Your commitment
- Identifying the cause of and the need for change by analyzing your organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT)
- Providing inspirational answers to "Why are we here?" "Where are we going?" "What needs to be accomplished?" and "How will we accomplish these objectives?"
- Creating your cultural and operating framework with the identification and inculcation of organizational values and desirable behaviors
- Treating everyone with respect and dignity
- Aligning people with purpose by getting the right person in the right place at the right time
- Managing performance
- Tracking progress
- Making every day better than the last
...and doing all of these things with proactive communication while wearing the hat of parent, teacher, field general, minister, confidante, coach, friend, referee, psychologist, and principal.
Is it fun?
Like a roller-coaster ride, the answer to this question largely depends on individual perspective. On the one hand, it's an exciting and invigorating process to lead, participate in, or have a fingerprint upon a process that raises the organization's collective ability to be more effective and efficient, and therefore, more competitive and viable. However, like many objectives worth working toward, such rewards can be attained only through what is likely to be a challenging and sometimes painful and difficult journey.
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