11th March 2015

An entrepreneurial attitude to change

Many concerns and issue for startups are shared by established organisations – or should be. The trouble is, many either don’t realise or never get round to taking action.

The need for change is self-evident when launching your new invention, new service concept, new business; as it’s all in front of you, everything will be change. However, just as in life in general, it’s easy to sink into regular routines and rhythms, rather than challenge, question, test or tempt people out of their comfort zones. The causes can be many, from complacency to overwork to an innate human resistance to change.

However, forward movement (progress) cannot be resisted. Time moves on, external changes beyond your control occur, needs and problems arise and these must be responded to and made the most of in order to stay viable and justify your professional existence.

Consider these questions for startups, which are just as relevant for established organisations big or small and/or teams and departments within them.

How will you communicate the need or demand for the new enterprise?

Enthusiasm is great, but you must explain the results that those who will implement and be affected by them can understand and appreciate. Jargon and buzz phrases alone won’t cut it.

Which stakeholders can most influence success?

The key people affected, or those who influence them.

What do I need to know before I commit to deliverables?

Ensure that deliverables and the resources you have to achieve them match before you commit.

How do I measure success?

Establish hard (data) and soft (anecdotal) metrics on activity and the quality of your leadership. Assess the current state, i.e. before launch or project start, against these and then the situation at key stages to gauge progress - and, finally, on completion.

Will my idea really achieve the desired outcome?

Ask yourself, If I was an investor, would I back this project, given the costs and target returns? Just because Facebook and Alibaba became multi-billion pound concerns, it doesn’t mean that every startup will succeed.

How do I know what resources I need?

Without the right resources to support your efforts, you will have to make compromises, which will impact on success – not to mention create a demoralised team. Spend time on a fact-based resourcing plan, using credible sources – and factor in a 10% reserve allowance for contingencies.

What makes a good plan?

It is written and approved by all key players. Simple, flexible and focused, it maps out all activities and is a framework for leaders and team members to follow. Everyone involved must be informed and engaged.

How do I prepare people to work in the new way?

New activities and changes demand new ways of working – new knowledge, skills, mindsets, attitudes and behaviours, relationships, systems and processes. Keep communicating and feeding back; provide step-by-step job aids, training and development and outsourcing experts for critical aspects of the new enterprise. Invest enough time for preparation before going ahead.

How do I reduce risk?

Key to this is identifying where risks lie and build in contingency plans, should they arise - establishing trigger points to indicate when these should be activated. This will maximise prevention and hasten recovery, minimising damage.

Improving change is a startup of sorts, with many of its attendant challenges and opportunities. Like a startup, painstaking research, methodical planning and diligent attention to the tasks in hand are needed.


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