Spotting trends and the politics of change

We all complain about our political masters and how they don’t understand us. We wonder what on earth they could have been thinking of, as unintended consequences seem to follow every new initiative. Assuming they are well intentioned, and not everything is driven by ego and hubris, why do they use such clunky big levers to effect change? Are they so sheltered by layers of civil servants that they cannot see the likely consequences, or is it all for the common good, so there might be some collateral damage, and we have to get on with it?

Does that resonate with employees of big biz as well? Do they feel that they are not empowered and just have to get on with whatever pronouncements come from on high? Quite often whatever the size of business, it seems to employees that their bosses are pretty much omniscient – they see and know everything, so if a particular process or part doesn’t quite fit, so if the employees have to find work arounds, so if it doesn’t quite match what the customer wants…that’s OK because the boss has the bigger picture. He knows that’s the best that can be done as any change would impact somewhere else worse.

Trouble is, he probably doesn’t know. If he did, he probably would be horrified at the waste. But treating your people like employees – notice it’s been “employees”, “boss”, (and “he”) up to now – disempowers them to do their best. It’s too top down, command and control. And old school – people want more now. They want to make a difference, use all their abilities, and enjoy their working time. So does any “boss”. It makes the business more enjoyable and more profitable too.

It’s easy enough to do it better and has another benefit. To do it – first park the ego and hubris, and be a little more humble. After all, it’s your colleagues who make you the money, so ask them “What can I do to help you do your job better”?  Then stop talking – listen. Ask questions by all means, but listen more. Get into their world and do the detail – you may be surprised what you will find.

Also by doing this you can spot trends far easier. You will feel better than anyone when some small change has occurred – and for that you will need to have got into the detail. There’s no need to change everything right now – this may not be a trend – but you can keep a look out for more evidence until you have a better idea. Now you have started looking for evidence of change rather than just evidence of situation normal. It’s changed and improved your awareness.

Don’t wait too long – the business that waits and waits until it has so much evidence it can’t be wrong will be last at that particular buffet, and will only get whatever your competitors have left.  Winning entrepreneurs take lots of steps into the unknown – small, fast steps. They move, then assess quickly, change direction, and maybe take that step back. But always they are aware and moving, always innovating and improving their business.

Being close to your colleagues, having those conversations, opens you to being able to spot changes early, and take advantage of them, with a willing bunch of people helping you.

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