Remember how hard it was being a kid and growing up? Sure, we didn’t know how good we had it. But there’s a reason “growing pains” is such a relatable phrase. We’ve all been there.
“Growth” has a positive connotation in business culture. It’s usually at the core of our goals – organizational, professional and personal. If we’re not growing, what’s the point? In PR and marketing, our clients come to us to help them achieve growth: expanding products or service offerings, market share, workforce, longevity, revenue or reputation.
It’s easy to forget, though, that growth requires change – and change is not something humans tend to embrace. Wanting to grow is the first step; making a plan and preparing ourselves for change is the second. Asking stakeholders and peers to change with us is the biggest job of all and takes perseverance, so get ready before you set off on your growth journey.
Quiz: Are You Prepared for Change?
1. Do you have a destination? Choose an end point you can clearly and enthusiastically illustrate to others. Make it bold – why not? That’s how innovators change the world.
2. Do you have a well-rounded crew? Include cheerleaders and skeptics, seasoned veterans and fresh faces, and people with different strengths. The only things they should have in common are that they buy into the goal (or at least are committed to your success) and are not afraid to point out an issue or tell you what they really think.
3. Do you have the stamina? Change is a marathon, not a sprint. Of course, you’ll need financial resources, but don’t forget about the mental and emotional resilience and solid support structures that will keep you and your team going when you hit obstacles. Set up sustainability mechanisms before you need them.
4. Are you prepared to meet resistance? When you start changing, you disrupt the comfortable rhythms of the people around you – your team, customers, partners, suppliers and peers – and that will trigger their fight-or-flight mechanism. Ghosts from your past might come back to haunt you in the media. New trolls will pop up on your social media. Industry associations and government agencies might get nervous that you’re rocking the boat. Your competitors will be planning to take advantage of your failure or replicate your success.
5. Do you have reliable testing and feedback mechanisms in place? Resistance to change and legitimate, useful feedback can look very similar. Consider setting up criteria to check the validity of a concern or suggestion. When you do implement a change test it, and test it again.
6. Are you willing to adapt? Your original idea will not look the same when you finally do bring it to life. You will have to negotiate and refine your vision along the way in response to feedback – and it will turn out stronger and better in the end.
7. After answering these questions, are you still excited about your change?
If you answered “yes” to many of these questions, let us know!
Enjoy the Ride!
Being a change agent, an innovator or early adopter requires an interesting mix: dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs, tolerance for uncertainty… and optimism.
The world’s biggest challenges would never get solved without these characters. Some problems are solved by accident, by someone who had set out to accomplish a different goal or by someone who was curious enough to look twice at the status quo.
Even if you don’t end up where you thought you would, you will certainly be enriched by the attempt. And while the process can feel long and arduous when you’re enmeshed in it, one day you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come.
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