Change really is the only constant

I have heard the saying in different ways, but the idea is always the same: the only constants in the universe are death, taxes, and change. I don’t think there is argument about any of those items, but change is the topic I have been thinking of today.

I read an article earlier that got me thinking about change and other pieces have just fit with the theme today, alongside another blog post about why change is difficult. The article mentioned is about a company co-founded by Michael Porter, one of the most studied authors of business techniques and strategies for the last couple of decades in business school, filing for bankruptcy recently. One of the questions is about how a company co-founded by someone who’s teachings are at the forefront of our studies in business school can end up in bankruptcy court and the following question becomes “does Porter’s Five Forces Model” for business really work if a company of his is now bankrupt.

I arrive early to one of my classes every week, in part because I live so far away from my university, so I have to leave early in case traffic, accidents, or otherwise will slow my trip down, but the other part is that my professor lets her class just prior to mine get out slightly early most of the time and I get to talk to her about most any topic, one of which comes to mind with this blog. We were speaking about research and that little hasn’t already been researched about in some way, shape, or form, and I said I laugh a lot when I see physicists that love nothing more than to say how they proved Einstein was wrong about something on television programs. The reason I laugh is that, in his time, Einstein’s theories were farther reaching than others and he was able to show evidence supporting his theories, but they worked in his time with the equipment he had available, as well as the knowledge he had beforehand from experiments and theories in history. It is only a natural progression that with more experiments, more ideas, and further research, when coupled with new technology, do we learn that old theories were incorrect or only partially true, and one day present day theories will fall in the same pattern. I think of this when looking at the question about Porter’s Five Forces-it works in theory and for certain situations, but we move past with new problems that arise and new explanations have to be found for present situations.

It’s always a matter of change-it really is the only constant. We should never be surprised by it and should learn that no matter the topic, change is constant, but it is especially important and ever present for us as leaders.

As with all posts, I’m looking for comments, opinions, and ideas pertaining to any of the topics presented in this blog and look forward to hearing what your experiences have been!


History plays its part in the present

We had our elections this week and decided on different people to lead our country, decisions about taxes, amendments to state constitutions, and the news media tries its best to explain why a person won or lost their campaign. One of the issues brought up was the change in demographics in the country and it got me thinking about organizational culture.

In business, nonprofit organizations, or political parties, organizational culture is often what the history surrounding these are and we find change difficult in anything, let alone change from what has worked for us before. Culture is how we teach new people to our organization what we are all about and this is probably the biggest reason it is so difficult to change, but we need to constantly remain cognizant of the fact that businesses which don’t adapt soon cease to exist and thus with organizational culture. It is not to say we need to forget where our organizations started and came from, but we cannot be locked into it either.

Keeping with open communication from previous blogs, I read an article that talks about open communication being the cornerstone of making organizational cultural change easier. Some tips to going about change were found in another article I found and it also mentions how difficult change can be.

The importance is not that change is difficult, but that change must occur as times change. Just as demographics sneaked their way into the election with few noticing, business markets change, leaders in nonprofit organizations change, and social issues in the nation can sneak up on us as well. Our job as leaders is to watch out for the changes and be ready to adjust to them.

I think of my time as a leader in a nonprofit organization for this because I took the reins of leadership after a 20 plus year veteran had become ill and could no longer be in charge. He was not one to let others have much responsibility because he liked “making sure things were done right,” which meant he did it all, but I knew when I took over that this adage was going to change. Just because it worked before did not mean I wanted to do everything myself and saw it better to train others in various positions so that they would one day be ready to take my position. It takes effort to change the culture, but sure enough, given a few months of working at it, people began doing more and they actually thanked me for it later because they felt a part of the organization by having the responsibility in it. Now they were the ones writing the present which will one day also be part of the history for others just as the current “history” plays its part in the present.

I challenge readers here to drop a line, make comments on what you think or how you have dealt with change in your roles as leaders. I believe in life long learning and hope others can benefit from what we all state here.