Surrendering to change

When I was working for a multinational automotive manufacturer in 1998 I attended a seminar where I heard one of my favourite quotes – the only certainty is the constant surrender to change…

For me, this was a profound shift from my tendency to view change as disruptive and getting in the way for things that needed to be done. This notion of surrendering to change was foreign – yet there was something appealing about it. At the time we were headed towards the uncertainty of Y2K where possibly our entire financial and technological platform would fall over. During the first decade of the twenty first century I had the sense that the speed of things shifting and changing was increasing. So it is interesting to see the number of books, programs and articles devoted to the increasing rapidity of change that have been published in the last few years – something is going on.

surrendering to change

I’m pleased that more organisations are now adapting to the notion that change is relentless and from a brand perspective, those organisations that accept this dynamic as an opportunity and learn how to effectively move with change rather than resist it will create a market resonance that other less adaptable organisations will find hard to replicate. This adaptability and openness can be a distinguishing trait of your brand’s essence.

Resilience enables people to surrender to change

Ultimately a brand’s ability to be comfortable with constant change rests in the fibre and resilience of all the people within the organisation. For employees to move beyond the natural human fear of change, the leaders in the organisation have an expanded responsibility to clearly communicate often, what is going on and why. When employees have information they feel respected and valued, and rather than ‘making up their own stories in a vacuum’, they know what the organisation is focused on and how it intends to get there (and if it has really powerful internal brand communication they’ll also have identified each person’s role in taking the company there).

A key factor in fostering resilience in the face of rapid change is a sense of integration from the personal, to the team and the whole of the organisation; a uniting sense of purpose. When each layer is clear about their purpose and how it is part of the greater whole, then the organisation taps into something beyond the surface changes; they are anchored and strong and ready to respond to whatever change occurs.

The sticking point for many organisations is a perception of not ‘enough time’ to make those regular employee communications and / or a tendency to avoid elements of change that are uncomfortable. How far is each person in the organisation prepared to go? How honest are they prepared to be? How much trust exists within the organisation so that even if I say something you don’t like you can disagree with the topic (the content), however you all know that a greater context of trust exists. This requires personal resilience and a more conscious way of interacting than many organisations are used to.

Having the ability to roll with change rather than resist it is being able to ask ‘dumb’ questions, and admitting mistakes or that you don’t know the answer – this requires a vulnerability that many of us in corporate life have been keen to avoid, and yet, within that vulnerability resides the magnetic power of truth.

Context provides a platform for surrendering to change

For brands who have clarity regarding their brand purpose this provides a bigger platform, a context where no matter the changing circumstances of markets, customers, environment, trends, taxation laws, workforce they have a secure and clear brand understanding that informs and directs the way in which they respond to changing dynamics.

Change is only threatening or disconcerting when there is no clear context or platform that guides how we act – the values and purpose that are held over the long term. While markets may change, and client segments emerge or new products or services are developed and this may mean a shift in positioning the underlying reason why the organisation exists (purpose) and the way in which we operate (values) is a consistent reference point.

We used to talk about ‘in times of change’ as though those times would pass; the current reality is teaching us that change truly is a constant and we have a choice to resist or surrender to that constant. Resistance impedes your organisation’s ability to build brand equity while surrendering to change provides a creative opportunity to build resilience and strengthen what your brand stands for in the hearts and minds of all your stakeholders – employees, customers, contractors, distributors and suppliers

For each person in each organisation the responsibility rests with you – will you resist or will you openly surrender to change and the fresh opportunities it brings?

Written By Fiona Pearman

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Shared with permission of Fiona Pearman, Brand Illumination Pty Limited.

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