Facing the storm

How we played the Change Game:

Lessons learnt as we handled change, disruption and challenges in 2018

Robert Scoble says change is inevitable, and the disruption it causes often brings inconvenience and opportunity. Change comes at us through anything ranging from strategic orientation to organisational restructuring, technology, competitor activity, customer needs, economic factors or innovations in products and services. Some of the change is expected and anticipated, such as strategy changes or the implementation of new technology and systems. A lot of the change organisations have to respond to is unexpected and unanticipated, causing disruption and even temporary chaos when it hits.

At Game On we have been inspiring our clients to create a culture of change readiness and welcome disruption as an opportunity for growth and opportunity. We knew and understood change management and disruption inside out. They say we teach best what we most need to learn – perhaps this is why 2018 provided Game On with ample opportunity to experience and respond to every single expected and unexpected change that can impact an organisation.

Make no mistake, it was, as Robert Scoble said, incredibly inconvenient. We survived the inconvenience and disruption and we’ve come out of this experience richer for it, focused on the opportunities it will bring. How did we do it, we ask ourselves? How did we get through a major internal organisational structural change, a new leadership team, a change in strategic orientation, rapidly evolving customer needs, the dire impact of the economy and retrenchments on budgets and project plans?

We’d like to identify 3 approaches that helped us navigate the change storms and adapt accordingly. We hope these 3 approaches will provide some guidance and insight for our customers and partners as they respond to complex, continuous change:

  1. We got experts to help

Our first impulse is to contain any disruptive situation or change factor and handle it as discreetly as possible within the company. Many CEO’s or senior leaders have a broad skill set and feel comfortable to handle legal, financial, technological or people issues themselves. There is of course also the matter of the fees payable to lawyers or consultants, little of which organisations budget for. Game On CEO Gary Segal shares the following advice: The time and effort it was taking me to handle legal or financial matters that I’m not an expert in was eating into the time and effort I could be dedicating to that which I am best at. We hired experts to help us, despite the cost. I believe that trying to handle complex change situations without expertise will not only delay your response time and cost you in productivity, but it will compromise your empowerment – the feeling of being in control, without which we cannot lead others.

  1. We talked to our customers

We believe that customers will be more tolerant and supportive of the change journey if they are informed and even consulted as part of the journey. Many companies try to handle disruptions at the back end whilst maintaining a façade of normality on the front end. With change and disruption being a constant, why don’t more companies talk to us as customers before the fact? We often receive messages from our bank or a service provider to apologise for a disruption whilst it’s happening or after the fact. What if a message like “We apologise for customers experiencing service disruptions in Area X. We are dealing with the problem” became a message like “We would like to inform customers in Area X that there may be service disruptions on X date due to Y circumstances. We are trying to minimise the impact by doing this and we’ll keep you informed of our progress”?

At Game On we believe that a relationship of trust with our customers should include informing, sharing and updating them on any changes or disruptions we are experiencing. Our leaders pro-actively addressed the challenges we were facing with our customer leadership teams, co-creating interim solutions to ensure that our service delivery remains constant. We could not have done this without the partnership and support of our customers.

  1. We remained focused on our purpose and values

Our purpose is to enable leaders in customer-facing environments to improve the performance of their people. This purpose, this calling that we have to enable leaders, remained our focus point. How we did it or what we did became less important. Our values underpin this purpose. By remaining authentic, respectful, focused on value creation, encouraging collaboration and ideation and working with heart, we continued to strive for flow in all our engagements with stakeholders. This flow remained the ultimate state of being for us: being truly present, connected, competent, doing our job effortlessly and lightly.

Focusing on our purpose and our values, and striving for flow helped us to leave the change, disruption and chaos outside the room when we walked in. It helped us remain present and light, despite the distractive heaviness of the changes and disruptions we were experiencing.

It’s a messy business, life. Handling the inevitable challenges of life and business will cause inconvenience. All the change management theories in the world can’t dispel the discomfort, mental anguish and financial impact of changes and disruptions. Winston Churchill said if you’re going through hell, just keep on walking. That’s what we did. But we didn’t walk alone. Our expert partners, understanding customers and compelling purpose supported every step we took.

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