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It's 2013: Change Or Die

It’s the third week of January. How are those resolutions working for you? If your New Year’s Resolutions fell by the wayside a few minutes after midnight on January 1, you are not alone.

It’s the third week of January. How are those resolutions working for you?

If your New Year’s Resolutions fell by the wayside a few minutes after midnight on January 1, you are not alone.

Research indicates a third of resolutions never make it to the end of January. I think that’s because most of us approach resolutions as wishes and desires and not as goals.

This is true in our personal lives as well as our nation’s institutions.

Even amidst economic upheaval, rapidly changing technology, and unprecedented demographic shifts, many organizations are clinging to traditions and processes of the past. The leaders of these organizations may say they want change, but they don’t actually stick to a strategy to make change happen.

The fact is change isn’t easy. It also isn’t optional.

By 2015, Generation Y (ages 18-31 this year) will be the majority of the workforce. This generation’s move into power is already spurring shifts. In fact, The Economist predicts there will be a “great global redistribution of economic and social power” in the coming months.

This isn’t the equivalent of cutting jelly doughnuts out of your daily diet. This is really big, really serious stuff.

According to The Economist, 2013 will be a transitional year for many of our nation’s institutions because “power will flow away from traditional institutions that have failed to deliver progress” and “flow towards businesses whose leaders understand and act on the big trends shaping our future.”

In other words, the phrase ‘Change or Die’ is more accurate than ever before.

If survival isn’t enough to inspire your organization to change, then perhaps these three strategies will help your leadership set goals, embrace change, and achieve success in 2013.

Influence Change

Changing an established culture is the toughest task your organization will face. You must win the hearts and minds of the people you work with, and that takes a significant amount of persuasion. Recognizing you won’t be able to convert everyone at once, start with people who have disproportionate influence in the organization.

Remember: The influencers aren’t always the leaders. Get the influencers committed to change or, failing that, get them out. And once they are committed to change, shine a spotlight on their accomplishments so others get the message.

Make Change Happen

In the 1990s, the New York Police Commissioner made his top brass – including himself – ride the subways day and night, to understand why frightened New Yorkers had come to call it the “Electric Sewer.” Today, we see similar concepts play out on CBS’ Undercover Boss reality show.

The point is, you can advocate for change until you’re blue in the face, but lecturing doesn’t always work. Look for ways to get the decision-makers to experience the harsh realities that make change necessary.

Invest in Change

Look at where your organization spends its resources and you will find its heart. Is your organization investing in the right things? The right things are those that require the least amount of effort for the most gain.

You are in a race for relevance here, folks. Your organization must be focused, nimble and capable for nothing less than greatness. Anything that drains resources and yields minimal results should be put on the chopping block.

I think the ancient philosopher, Lao Tzu said it best: “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

Do you simply wish for change to happen, or is your organization being intentional about making it happen?

I hope for the sake of your organization, it’s the latter.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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