Pressure of Work

This blog has been silent for the 7 weeks of 2017 that have rushed by already. This cannot be because of a paucity of change on which to comment. We have had the start of the Trump presidency which has been a thrill a day, proving wrong those of us that thought his presidency could not be as bad as his candidacy. As mentioned earlier, I am in South Africa for the southern summer and being this far from the action has a calming effect and reduces the itch that normally gets scratched with 250 or so words.

So it is not pressure of work that is keeping me from blogging although I am developing several business opportunities that I hope will come to fruition later in the year. In the meantime, as one of the fortunate and shrinking few that have a generous pension, I am not burdened by the need to earn today’s crust.

It is not many years ago that the talk was of the 3rd age and multiple careers in a long but more rewarding working life. Reality is kicking in and a new generation of workers will probably be forced into a more pragmatic future. This future will require full time work perhaps even beyond three score and ten. My generation is already envied and sometimes subjected to more hostile reactions to our good fortune. Our voting habits are analysed for evidence of selfishness and a lack of consideration for those that will look after us, hopefully, in our dotage. Our tendency to spend our money rather than build our childrens’ inheritance is not looked upon kindly.

How will this divisive trend be centred?

We already see that there is a return to extended families sharing homes and inheritances being advanced in the form of home loans and gifts. Grandparents are increasingly volunteering for their traditional role as child carers. These developments are often part of a negative narrative; consequences of difficult times and a broken economy. However, surely they are also evidence of a society that adapts to change while falling back on its core values. We should promote such developments and look for new opportunities to leverage the technology that makes our lives easier and more interesting no matter when we were born.

Change is good.






White Noise

A friend and former colleague providing me with a critique of my website design prior to its launch in May, made the, perhaps obvious, point that it is hard to be heard above the din that is the internet and social media. The trickle of visitors to my website and this blog confirms that. Investing in a GoogleAd campaign does not have to be expensive and has increased website traffic by 1000% in the first week. Can I expect this to result in new business leads or am I waiting for the statistical equivalent of a meteor strike extinction event? How should I put this in perspective? Is it worth the effort?

Communication is at the heart of any Change Management effort. It is frequently mentioned that telling it 7 or 9 times is necessary before a message is heard and internalised by any given audience. Hence those moments of truth we have learned to react to. Nevertheless, line managers often prefer a solitary, simple e-mail or (rather than “and”) a 10 minute agenda item at the staff town hall meeting. Perhaps they are hoping the change will just go unnoticed.

Telling it 7+ times implies that Change communications must use a range of channels and repeat messages even when some of the audience is already claiming complete familiarity with what is coming. Some of the channels may not provide instant payback but are still worth considering especially if, like a website, they can become a “go to” place for information and near real-time updates. The potential reach of the internet (or your company intranet) is impossible to beat.

So although my trickle of visitors has yet to make a splash, I will continue to invest time and a little money to promote the wider effort of growing my business.

Change is good. If you are listening.

Course Correction

It has been 3 months since I left the corporate world and started my consultancy business. I was lucky to have a quick win in the form of some work for my former employer which is now coming to a successful end. Time then to take stock, revisit the start up plan and consider next steps.

Contacts I made in the early weeks have gone cold and may need to be reminded that I am hunting opportunities. Updating my communication plan and developing a new set of key messages is a priority; I am in business, I have successfully completed work as an independent consultant, I am easy to do business with, I can work confidently anywhere in the world.

Do I need to make some course corrections? The Plan, Action, Review cycle    is most effective when the review process captures lessons learned and identifies meaningful changes for the next cycle. Such corrections require an open mind especially when they represent a big shift in thinking. They may also be the source of inspiration and energy; critical in maintaining momentum out of the trough of the change curve.

An injection of new thinking and increased effort in planning for the next phase of my start up is called for. The potentially quiet period between assignments should not be an excuse to take a holiday; though I might do that too!

Change is good. Driving change is better.


Quick Wins, Long Haul

Strategy Planners often look for low hanging fruit and quick wins to inject credibility and momentum to their Change Management efforts. My business start up has benefited from a quick win; some consulting work for my former employer that required little of the hard sell that other potential opportunites will demand. This early success brings some risks; the temptation is to assume that the early momentum will translate into sustainable change. The Change Manager has to focus on the long haul and ensure his/her plans include energetic action to reinforce and cement early progress. Communication must use multiple channels and key messages be repeated often to reach the target audiences.

Surely the defining quality of the successful Change Manager is the determination to tackle the long haul. Early in a project, the need for structured change management focused on people and processes is often discounted in the pursuit of an IT solution or a reconfiguration of the boxes on an organisation chart. The Change Manager may have to take a back seat; quietly executing communication plans and developing training while the, apparently sexier, implementation progresses.

So enjoy the quick wins and focus on the long haul.

Change is Good.

Start Up Blues

No longer protected by the corporate cocoon that I have existed in for the last 3 decades, I am in the midst of setting up my business here in the UK. There is plenty to be excited about; the prospect of starting my first independent work in a couple of weeks time, the networking, the absence of somebody else’s boundaries. There is also the less exciting stuff; the administration and compliance work that even a small business cannot ignore.

The UK is reputed to be a relatively easy place to start up a business. Nevertheless, an online foray through the UK Government Gateway to register for corporation tax and meet other regulatory requirements had me wondering how many potential entrepreneurs are deterred by the complexity of it all. I tried methodically reading through the guidance but found myself in a kind of web page “do loop” . I found it easier to dive into action, breaking all the rules about preparation and planning. The website crashed a couple of times which, judging by the “try later” user message that popped up, is not unusual. See if that works if you are a budget airline.

Never mind, this is just a momentary attack of the start up blues; there is surely more excitement and fewer obstacles ahead on the change curve. That is the plan.

Change is good.