Are you satisfied with the way your business is performing today?
How about next year?
Specifically, what are you doing to make 2007 a banner year for continual business improvement?
What are you going to do differently?
What are you going to do - to change?
The challenge is how to change, not if.
Here are seven steps for effective change:
1. Create a commitment. Define a shared vision of what you want to commit to it. Without a clear commitment, you'll create chaos for the change you want to achieve. Creating the commitment brings you back to what you want to achieve and allows you to measure your activities against this commitment -- and ensures that you stay focused on your vision.
2. Engage the stakeholders. It's not only your senior management team, but it is everyone that is involved with your company as well. You must include both internal and external members of your organization. Everyone needs to understand the upcoming change - and "What's in it for me?" Give stakeholders the time to understand that the upcoming change is in their own best interest to help make this commitment a reality.
3. Visualize the changed future. Paint a picture of what your company will perform like when this journey and transformation are complete. Many individuals will ask how the change is going to affect the company and, more importantly, how it will affect themselves. Use your imagination to visualize what you would like your company to be in one year, in 3 years -- in five years. Share this vision with your group.
4. Begin the transformation. It's easier to paint a picture of your future than it is to get started creating it. Put together a step-by-step action plan with dates, deliverables, milestones, and who's responsible for the achievement of each step. If you break down all the steps you need to take month by month, it can easily become a reality. Have a road map in place that outlines the process.
5. Embed the new change into your culture. Everything you're doing should be consistent with the commitment to change. With every action you take, ask yourself if it is consistent with what you want to achieve. Will it help you achieve the end results you want?
6. Create a sense of urgency. It's important to recognize that most of us, in reacting to change, want to slow it down; but if we accelerate it, we can move ahead. Let your team members know that it is okay to be uncomfortable with change, but that the winner in business will always be the one who most effectively adapts to the new environment.
7. Continuously improve. There is no finish line. There is no final destination. There is no "are we there yet?" Improvement and change are a continuous process.