"It is impossible for ideas to
compete in the marketplace if no forum for
their presentation is provided or available."
Thomas Mann, 1896
by David J.
Change is hard. Losing marketplace relevancy is even harder. Just ask
anyone at Blackberry, Blockbuster, Radio Shack or Kodak to name a few. The world
is littered with companies that crashed and burned as their relevancy
The technology marketplace has always been intolerant of the status quo. A company in
motion must stay in motion.
Some leaders display that rare ability to both create a bold vision
and also to drive the implementation of a new and brighter future. But,
there is one additional critical ingredient in leading change: the
leader charged with the task must be an evangelist � and the committed advocate for the change that he
or she is
World class change agents see vision, implementation and evangelism as a
three-legged stool. A stool is solid yet a weakness in, or absence of, any
leg renders it useless. It is insufficient to merely see the need and
then create the change: the
change agent must continuously sell the change � the dream � to all
stakeholders and customers affected by it through an evangelistic process.
Leading change is not a 40-hour per week occupation, particularly in a global
company. It invariably takes an enormous amount of mental, psychic and physical
energy to first create the vision, and then drive the implementation of that vision
through to completion; it needs an evangelist to carry through and
complete for that vision.
There will always be trade-offs that must be made along the way. While a change
agent is refining one area, a brush fire can often pop up in another critical
area resulting in a shifting of attention to that area for a time.
Removing one's attention away from one
critical area often leaves other areas more exposed than they would
normally be. A change agent's mission
reminds me of the Chinese acrobats who spin plates on long thin wooden
rods. If the acrobats do not keep putting energy into each plate,
eventually the plates will drop and break.
The change agent however cannot be in all places at the same time and cannot be party to
all conversations that need to take place during the process. And, this is
therefore one of the main risks of taking the lead in managing
change � the change agent is not always aware of some of the attacks
that may be being organized to
undermine the change.
There will always be people, groups and constituencies who will resist
change. They do not require a good reason or even a better idea � they do it
just because they can or, more often, because they just fear change, any
change; remember the
Luddites? The threat of change and the fear that it can bring,
sufficient in many cases. Some people are not open to any new ideas or
change of any kind. For them, the status quo is both safe and comfortable.
But then, there
will always be extraordinary leaders who lead change on a scale and
complexity that most humans just cannot even comprehend. If there
it were not so we would still be avoiding horse droppings in the High
David J. Gardner
is a Fellow of The Business Forum Institute and held
senior management positions in Product Development,
Manufacturing, Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and Product
Management. He joined Tandem Computers in 1979 where he
was responsible for Corporate Documentation Standards for
Tandem's highly configurable and expandable computer systems. In
1983, he designed and implemented a Configuration Guide for
Dialogic Systems instituting a process that greatly simplified a
complex, modular product such that the field sales organization
and international OEM customers could easily define their order
requirements. This methodology satisfied the product definition
needs of sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, customer
service and finance. David founded his consulting practice in
1991. He is a graduate of San Jose State University (BA) and
Santa Clara University (MBA). David is a member of the Society
for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC) and has been Board
Approved in the Area of Configurable Product & Services Strategy
and Implementation. In 2010, he was inducted in the Million
Dollar Consultant� Hall of Fame. Out of over
1,000 consultants who have completed Alan Weiss�s mentoring
program, only 26 have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Dave Gardner can be reached on
and you can check
describing why he is in business.
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