The power of change

2007-11-12 00:00

It is Monday November 12, and I am sitting here at my PC finalising my weekly column. As I work in the peaceful quiet of my little home office, I can imagine the fervour of activity taking place at The Witness at this very moment. Today, of course, brings in the redesign and re-launch of the oldest South African newspaper still in publication. Over the years, I have been fortunate to be part of a number of major re-launch events and the energy and excitement that comes from all the planning and preparation prior to “Day 1” is quite extraordinary. Indeed, change is quite extraordinary!

There is an old saying; “If it's not broken, don't fix it!” Once again, my imagination goes to work and I picture a miserable old Yorkshire lad talking to his wife: “No love, leave it alone there's nout wrong with it. It's been fine and it'll still be fine - don't touch it.” I don't believe anyone in their right mind would describe The Witness as broken, yet it has embarked on a plan to redesign, develop and change. Obviously, The Witness wants to continue to “be the best” - and appreciates that this cannot be achieved by standing still.

For many people, change can be a most difficult dynamic to handle. Fear of what might happen as you walk towards judgment or the unknown can become extreme.

In truth, this fear for many people is so strong that they resist change, at all costs.

For some, not only is change resisted, they will strongly justify or defend maintaining the status quo, “We've always done it this way and we won't change it now.”

The cost of such a negative attitude, can be very high.

So much of the motivation behind the redesign of The Witness comes down to developing far stronger, more effective relationships with its readers.

I have long believed that if all relationships openly courted change, we would see within them conducive growth. On the other hand, if all we do is “mirror our yesterdays into tomorrow”, we, to all intents, will just stand still.

Perhaps this can be put even more strongly: Long periods without change can produce complacency, which all too often, becomes a breeding ground for so much that is corrosive.

If there is ever a country that needs to court change, it is South Africa. In all honesty, much that we have put in place to represent change, simply isn't working.

The essence of successful change comes down to such things as: research, planning and co-ordination. “We have to believe in a positive future that we make happen, as opposed to an acceptance of a future that simply comes on to us”.

All this means that we must have a realistic vision of what the future should look like or represent.

In truth, the key to a successful economy, the key to resolving much that relates to a peaceful and successful social infrastructure is in our hands. We have to make the difference, we have to make it work and I might add, so much of the change that needs to take place comes down to the way that we manage our businesses and industries in respect of wealth manufacture.

Over the coming weeks, I hope to stimulate change in your business. I am going to suggest that you adopt an attitude that will take you out of your comfort zones and pushes you to examine all aspects of your company, from an attitude of, “We might be good, but we can become much, much better”.

E-mail frankgreenfield@iafrica.com

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