November 18, 2009
Change is Your Competitive Advantage

By Larry Rowland, immediate past chair of the Indiana Humanities Council’s board of directors.

As we are confronted with change in our personal and professional lives, we must understand that there are four guarantees relating to change:

  • Change is here to stay.
  • The pace of change will increase.
  • This change won’t be trouble-free.
  • You are accountable for dealing with the change.

These guarantees, as posited by Karl Schoemer, author, speaker, and facilitator from Brownsburg, Indiana, prove to be unsettling to most when heard or read for the first time. Initial resistance to change is natural, as old habits, policies, and procedures, no longer are relevant.

Karl tells us that there are four stages of change. When change is initially presented to us, we feel a sense of betrayal. No longer can we count on the old ways to accomplish our duties, which forces us to deal with new unknowns. We feel that management, our boss, or our family member or friend, has once again not paid attention and has foisted this new “change” upon us.

Next, we feel a sense of denial, and hope that by ignoring the fact that a change has been made, it will eventually go away. We next experience an identity crisis as we grapple with the meaning of this change, and causes us to begin asking questions relating to our future relevance and place within the firm. Finally, we find that we must search for solutions if we are to successfully manage change. Each of us is accountable for developing the new skills that are needed to retain our productive and effective role within our firm .

The difference between today’s winners and losers is often determined by how quickly and successfully we move through the four stages of change. Those who quickly can move to the “search for solutions” stage become more valuable to their firm, while those who struggle with working through the four stages find themselves falling farther behind.

How do you react to change? What tools did you find helpful as you worked toward your search for solutions? Share your thoughts here, and you quite possibly will be able to help someone else dealing with change in their life.

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