Why is Change so Difficult?
by Kevin D. Crone
I’ve worked with a handful of companies to improve their sales results. I wish it was as simple as teaching new sales techniques. It’s a structural issue. According to one of my brilliant old mentors, Robert Fritz, everything has a structure and design that causes the behaviours we get.
For example, if our commitments, systems and processes, actions and conversations with customers, are structured to service-sell or product-peddle just to get money, then we’re structured to take orders and product peddle… period. Unless business leaders want to be about advising and teaching their clients to help their customers improve their business and put in the supporting structure, then no new techniques will work over the long haul. The structure (processes, systems, commitments, actions, conversations) will always win – until it’s changed.
What I notice is that many managers are problem solvers going from circumstance to circumstance and, that’s a structure that produces some quick resolutions but doesn’t create the structure to compete today.
I’m constantly asked:
- How are we different from other companies?
- Do we have a team that can change?
- How will people ever change if they’re either young millennials or older, experienced types who are perceived to be unchangeable?
- Do we have the right managers to lead the changes we need?
How do all these questions matter? In relationship to what? In other words, what business are you becoming? What outcomes do you want? Who do you choose to be in the marketplace? Usually managers, especially spreadsheet managers, never go there. They want to compete differently but never get around to answering the big questions. They just fix problems they perceive are in their way. And, a problem solving structure alone, can create nothing but oscillation. For example, put in a different manager, let some old timers go, and give people new sales techniques. You’ll find that you’ll succeed for a while then another problem pops up and you wind up invisibly back to the old behaviour which caused the old results.
Putting in any new solution to problems in an old structure eventually produces the same behaviours and actions.
Most structures were created for a different time and situation. What do leaders lead? Problem solving ? No, they lead where the business is going and take people there. Left on their own, people can become disengaged, and good at recreationally complaining, blaming the organization for everything, and deciding each day how the business works. A self-directed mess still results in a mess. Where do you begin? Most companies have great strengths and a lot going for them but they have to adapt and be clear what they are structured for. Leaders change the structure.
How do they do that? How do you change?
You create a structure that pulls you to the results you want. It starts by examining and rethinking what is really going on. For example, market forces, your changing customer motives, what is happening with sales and margins, and what issues your customers struggling with.
How do you address these with your offering, etc?
Look at it all and decide on the outcomes and results you want, such as a specific number of bigger deals, repeat sales, market share etc. Then immediately go to accurately describing the current reality in relationship to your wants or requirements. Out of this comes the clarity of actions that you need to take to pull you to where you want to go. For example, having an offering that matches what the markets want and what is required, a different story in the market regarding your new offering, engaging people in figuring it all out, and, oh yes, re-working the sales systems required that your sales managers can coach from. You can see the difference. This is a structure that creates, I mean, creates (not manages) the business, results and team you want.
I realize this isn’t normal talk and it seems like a lot of work – so is struggling with soft markets, tougher customer purchasing practices and worrisome margins. If you don’t take time to re-think, you will not wind up with the business or life you want. In essence, you’ll be a victim of circumstances left with constant problem solving, being overwhelmed with circumstances, lots of blaming people or customers, and never getting around to connecting the dots.
Regardless, it can happen. You can be the total source of your business creation. I suggest you suspend all the problems in your mind for a bit, and then answer these questions in sequence:
- What’s going on for your business, team or career (trends etc.)?
- What do you want? (Make it specific) You might not believe you can have it but keep going. You don’t have to believe it. Just describe it.
- What’s going on in relationship to what’s required? Be factual rather than speculative.
- What are the practical things that have to be in place and the actions you need to take to get from the reality to your want(s)?
It seems so simple, but sometimes so difficult to grasp or to believe. I make sure every team I work with does this but, I remind them constantly and drag them out of problem solving to keep them focused on what they’re creating.
- Take this personally. Just get it done. I suggest immediately. For no creative process matters if your actions aren’t relative to what you want.
- Keep reminding yourself what you want and not what is the problem.
- See the difference in your actions and results.