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Saturday , 21 July 2018
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LEADING CHANGE

AN ENTREPRENEUR’S PERSPECTIVE

As they say Change is the only constant in a business world. Change keeps one ahead, helps overhaul the system for achieving better results and refresh the systems and processes from time to time.  But Change in itself is not a process that is ingrained in any management system. Leading Change often is the brainchild of a top management visionary as it’s a proactive system and initiated by one visionary who conceptualizes the change, and sets it in motion through a team.

As John P Kotter, a renowned Harvard professor and author of “Leading Change” once said, “successful change is 70-90% leadership and 10-30% management”. The leader or the visionary is actually the fulcrum between the Team leading the change and the organization where change is being instilled.

Let us now look at the role and interface between the 3 components i.e. leader, team, and organization. The leader visualizes the need for Change and conceptualizes the methodology or process to implement it. It is obviously not possible to both visualize and implement the Change all by his own and naturally he has to co-opt a trusted team to do it led by him.  The first task is to sell to this core team the ‘Dream of the Change’ and what benefits it can lead to individuals and the organization.  Understandably the team implementing the Change has to have a mindset and focus in terms of the strategy and the will to do it. There has to be complete harmony, strong belief and shared principles amongst team members that the proposed Change will bring in the desiredresults in a tangible and palpable way. Let us look at this shared model for affecting Change and the likely strengths each of the three components bring to the table in the process of implementing this.

The processing of creating Change is a complex one but I  have tried to simplify this and outline a step by step process. It’s often a trial and error method and detecting flaws on the ground and course correction on the way form a critical part of this to be developed into a foolproof process.

Change should be viewed by Change Agents and leaders not just as an occasional disrupter but as the very essence of management. The world and business environment is undergoing continuous changes in technology, outlook attitude and behavior, and most importantly the consumer and the competitor. Therefore setting tough goals, establishing processes to implement these and learning from them and course correcting is a part of the unending daily life of a dynamic and forward-looking organization. To be able to lead a Change I have given an 8 step process (taken from a Book by John P Kotter, Harvard Professor and Author of “Leading Change”) which clearly guides us to lead as a Change Agent in an organization.

I have been talking about Change Agents quite a lot here but who are these CAs?  They are a bunch of professionals who are passionate about their beliefs, inherently not satisfied with the present way of things and genuinely believe there can be improvements, modifications or even radically different ways of doing things better and intellectually superior in the herd. I have always believed that there are three types of ‘managers’ that exist in most businesses, industries or even the Government & NGOs.

Change Leaders (or Change Agents) as a category has been well defined by John Kotter and many Management Gurus. In my definition Change, Agents are those leaders who mobilize people. Their role is to visualize theChange, set challenging goals for self and team that involve Change. Such leaders focus on changing behaviors with a vision, while ordinary Managers focus on existing circumstances.  While the Change Agent is the force behind the action he works from the background and gives credit to his team. As Lao Tzu the 8th Century (BC) Chinese philosopher had a nice way to define a Change Leader.

From my personal journey in the professional world, I have realized one simple truth: Change is only possible through a process of disruption. Being the President & CEO of one of India’s largest MNC Advertising Agencies 20 years back, there was a sense of ‘ contentment’ I was enjoying, but ‘ disruption’ came to my life when I was offered a parallel transfer to another country (as Country Head) and asked to take charge.  While I had the option of accepting it, I stepped back to ‘re-discover’ myself.  My strengths (and weaknesses), my passion, and above all, ‘where do I want to be 10 years later’. This introspection and ‘discovery’ led me to believe that ‘I can do more’. If I have done ‘so much’ for a leading US-based agency, surely ‘I can do much more’ for my own organization if I started it.

Once I made that ‘discovery’ I started co-opting some of my bright young colleagues by sharing the passion and giving them my vision and shared beliefs. Most of them gave up their cushy jobs with an MNC giant and joined me in the venture. The rest is history. After 20 years of my ‘discovery’ and shared beliefs with my colleagues my founder colleagues and I believe we stand tall by giving shape to our dreams and establishing our 360Ocommunication agency BEI CONFLUENCE as one of the large, professionally established agency in the country today. From my personal experience and long professional journey, I have probably realized what are the 10 qualities of a Change Agent.

I have often lectured at Universities, professional bodies and Management Institutes on what I call the 10(D) Commandments for Leading Change. It is simple and does not need any amplification. After being nearly forty years in the profession, I am still today a keen student to understand the ever-changing dynamics of Leading a Change.

By TAPAS GUPTA

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