Forget “resilience”, let’s talk about becoming capable

Written by Editor

21/04/2022

 

By Tom Marsicano, CEO of ‘and Change’ 

 

It’s been more than two years of a global pandemic and, for that same period, we’ve been hearing about how businesses, organisations, and even individuals must become resilient. 

In a regular context, resilience is an admirable quality. However, just like a few other pandemic-related terms such as “the new normal” or “unprecedented,” it’s become a bit of a cliché. Yes, we must react when things go wrong unexpectedly; that’s the bare minimum, but isn’t it better to be prepared and build our capabilities to change for the better, both in negative and positive circumstances? 

Resilience speaks to our ability to react and salvage what we can while navigating transition. However, we can’t reward ourselves simply for being reactionary – we must be prepared, agile, and most importantly, capable. Change capability is at the forefront of change management, particularly Enterprise Change Management (ECM). Rather than simply dealing with a major organisational change (from digital transformation to new processes and beyond), the most competitive organisations are developing the ways in which they can preemptively respond to change. They’re even taking it one step further: finding healthy ways to actively initiate change to benefit their business, staff, and clientele. 

Research, tools and training agents of change within an organisation contribute to developing change capability, rather than just focusing on change as though it were a single project that has to be completed. 

ECM experts Prosci say that for organisations to move beyond simply reacting, an ideological shift is required: “You have to move out of the mindset of simply doing more change management… to a mindset of deploying change management and building organisational capabilities.”

Effectively, this means institutionalising change management and maintaining these processes and their integrity – because change is perpetual. 

Strategically, this means determining your organisation’s level of change maturity – usually with five factors in mind: leadership, application, competencies, standardisation, and socialisation. 

It leads to a series of important questions. 

Who is responsible for designing a solution? Who will be our change ‘sponsor’ facilitating the change at the uppermost levels, and what is our schedule and budget to implement this change? What are our change management plans at an organisational and individual level? 

When you answer these questions, you’ll understand your level of change maturity and be able to fill in the gaps and start developing capability. 

Ultimately, the people who need to become capable are the leaders within an organisation. This reference to leaders doesn’t necessarily mean only the people at the highest ranks; it means those who showcase excellent leadership skills across all levels. In a recent article for Forbes, Christine Tao, CEO & co-founder of leadership coaching organisation, Sounding Board, wrote on capability development: “…companies often overlook it because it takes much work. It means investing in teams and developing individual members’ leadership skills. It means taking on the organisational responsibility for creating an environment and culture where leaders have room to lead and make mistakes.”

As she rightly says, self-awareness, communication, and managing change are among the top leadership capabilities (especially among business leaders) but are some of the most difficult to develop – but they are integral to growing and finessing a culture of change. 

It takes a concerted effort and great intent to build these competencies throughout an organisation, but the benefits are undeniable. 

Poorly managed change is costly, from loss of talent to plunging productivity. But when managed correctly, the time to implement change is reduced, the possibility of failure sharply declines and employee performance increases. Agility and adaptability become the norm, and accelerating an organisation remains manageable even as we face rapid global change and disruption. When you consider all of that, who wants to just be resilient? Let’s start shifting the conversation. Forget about being resilient to change; let’s become capable. 

 

 

Tom is a Founder and Director of and Change in South Africa. He is also the founding member of the Association of Change Management Professionals (Africa) and has served as a Director on the Board of ACMP Global.

 

 

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