Embrace change

  • Published
  • By Maj. Darrin DeReus
  • 22nd Comptroller Squadron commander
One of my favorite quotes comes from Jerry Rice, "Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't."

In order to accomplish greater feats, changes are often required.

Change is something we hear about and must deal with all the time. Generally, people do not like change. It means that they may have to accept things that they are not accustomed to within their realm of control.

Changes can be stressful and uncomfortable. Individuals have different personalities and change affects how they deal with and react to modifications at work and at home.

Have you ever told a person who works for you on a Friday afternoon that they have to work Saturday (I don't recommend doing this as a test of change acceptance)? The reaction from the individual will show how well they deal with changes in their environment. Some people will shrug and say okay, while others will not react well to it and will either actively or passively act out against the change. Changes with systems and processes are also difficult for many to accept.

Change in the Air Force is a part of our lives, especially in today's environment of providing Enabling capability for three major contingencies while maintaining home station requirements. However, it has been almost 10 years since 9/11, so we've had 10 years of members joining the military who know nothing else but this high operations tempo. In some ways, changes do not always surprise people, but the manner in which we make the change does surprise people.

As leaders, the changes should coincide with information on how it will be implemented and the expectation of effects for the organization. Once everyone understands the need and the "why" for the transition, the chance to change will become effective. Without effective planning, the members will simply go back to the way it was before and the change becomes ineffective. This is one way to effectively implement change:

Kotter's Eight Step Change Model - (found in J.P. Kotters book, "Leading Change")

1. Create urgency - Perform SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Start the discussion with your organization, and request support from internal and external customers.
2. Form a coalition - Identify the leaders for change, gain emotional commitment, work on team building and check for weaknesses within the team
3. Create a vision for change - Write a short summary, determine the central values, the strategy and ensure the organizational coalition can describe it.
4. Communicate the vision - Talk about it...A LOT! Lead by example, and address concerns.
5. Remove obstacles - Recognize and reward individuals for embracing the change, and find those that are not embracing to help them see what and why it is needed.
6. Create short term wins - Create quick victories and help the organization achieve them. Achievements, regardless of size, will breed exponential results.
7. Build on the change - Regardless of the win, look for what went well and what didn't, set new goals after achieving the old ones, learn about Air Force Smart Operations of the 21st Century , lean processes and methods for continuous improvement and teach change and improvement processes throughout your organization.
8. Anchor the changes into the culture - Talk about the transitions every chance you get, publicly recognize those who are key to the successful change, and make plans to continue to foster change in the organization so when new members join the organization, they are taught about it by the organization, not by a person.

Change is constant, it is how one deals with the change that provides the recipe for success or failure.