How to “game” change

There are two types of change – change that is imposed externally, and the change we choose to make ourselves. Both can be difficult, but only one is inevitable.

In business, we have change imposed on us all the time. Company restructures, legislative change and compulsory competitive tenders are all examples of externally imposed change. This kind of change can shake us up in unpleasant ways and make us feel exposed and vulnerable.

The opposite of change is inertia. In physics, an “inert” object continues in its existing state, unless that state is changed by an external force. In other words, when something pushes us, we have no choice but to go with it.

Self-imposed change, however, requires US to do the pushing. This makes it elusive and harder to achieve – even when it is essential.

Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, authors of Immunity to Change, found that desire and motivation aren't enough on their own to create change, and that change remains maddeningly elusive even when it's literally a matter of life or death. For example, they note that even when doctors tell heart patients they will die if they don't change their habits, only one in seven will be able to follow through and make the change successfully.

Inertia can trap us into under-performing, even when we think we are working hard and doing the right thing.

In Who Moved My Cheese? - one of the world’s best-selling change management books - Spencer Johnson suggests that most of us spend far too much time looking after our “existing cheese” (what we have now) and not going in search of “new cheese” (what we could have, if we only got off our butts and went looking for it). “Movement in a new direction helps find new cheese,” concludes Johnson.  “Life moves on, and so should we.”

The most successful suppliers know they need to overcome inertia to avoid being left behind. They aren’t content with just doing what the customer or contract says they should do, and are always looking for ways to add more value. In contrast, others – who have more of a “set and forget” mentality – don’t realise that they are setting them up to lose.

The good news is that you get to decide today which one you are going to be.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant who helps helps service-based businesses that compete through bids and tenders to articulate the value in what they do, command a price premium, and build an offer that buyers can’t refuse. Don’t let others dictate how far and how fast your business can grow – take your power back! Email robyn@robynhaydon.com to request the white paper for the Beyond Ticking Boxes program.