Churning In A Change

The key here is the recognition of the need – obvious or otherwise and the desire to drive action towards its fulfilment. It requires conviction of those at the helm of affairs


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From times immemorial we have learnt of change being the only constant. Oft-repeated, almost to the extent of clichéd, the quotation by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus is an agenda-driven quite often in the corporate world. The necessity of it arising sometimes from the need to resurrect an organization from the boondocks and at others with the recognition of a fast-degrading performance that required a change of course. 

Indian mythology abounds with stories of the holy trinity- the Three Lords- Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, also popularly known as Shiva have been known to have their respective roles in the scheme of the universe. Brahma- the creator, Vishnu – the preserver and Shiva- the destroyer. In fact, if one were to think about it, the creator cannot do without the destroyer or the destructor. Shiva is known to drive change in the universe every time there is a need identified to do so. He is identified as the one that destroys the status quo and allows for the opportunity for new creation. 

In fact, several are familiar with the Mahabharata- a legendary epic of the battle of the Pandavas and Kauravas. At the crux of it was the need for change to be driven. Much was made out in a society with a person’s position rather than capabilities at the time preceding the battle. In fact, it was seen that whether deserving or otherwise, society would allow for certain individuals or clans to rule the roost, and in several instances undeservingly so. In fact, Karan, believed to be the most skilled and worthy human was subservient because of his birth and hence position in society. 

Thus was driven change in the form of the war (the Mahabharata) that allowed for the destruction of status quo and reinstatement of an order that allowed for meritocracy to have a much higher place in the scheme of things relative to its recognition in the pre-war era.  

Mythology or history, it is true that change is the only way that the race moves on to an inflexion point that leads to a better future. This is no different in the corporate world. Some companies are driven towards change because of their state of affairs in the form of poor results, etc., while others have someone who recognizes the need to drive change in order to ensure performance can go beyond the levels that may have been the norm thus far. 

The key here is the recognition of the need – obvious or otherwise and the desire to drive action towards its fulfilment. It requires conviction of those at the helm of affairs. The conviction, not so much to just initiate change, having recognized its need, but more importantly the conviction to see it through irrespective of the roadblocks, aplenty as they may be. Deterrents there may be many as there would be naysayers, but the sponsor requires the steel to drive it through. 

Corporate history is replete with examples of the recognition for the need for change and the handover to what could be referred to as the “change agent” or the “turnaround CEO”. Such an individual having been recognized for the potential to make it happen drives change at several levels in the organization- people, products and processes. For an organization looking to make change happen, the order is as critical as the all-pervasive impact of it. Starting with the people, especially those that are representative of the old order, can be the most painful points and oftentimes also results in collateral damage. However, it is where change needs to begin if one has to make a deep-rooted impact for the future. 

Transforming the products either in recognition of customer demand or the identification of latent demands is another important aspect of change especially in organizations that may have for too long had leadership positions in markets which makes them complacent whether it is in terms of product development or in identifying newer areas of growth. Often managers in such organizations justify the lack of it or use the non-availability of market opportunities as reasons to justify why performance is sub-par. It takes significant questioning by powers-that-be to acknowledge that the hitherto significant markets no longer provide the kind of opportunities that justify the values placed on such an organization. The need to go beyond the obvious or the tried and tested is the kind of work that the ‘change agent’ under the aegis of a sponsor or several of them can bring. 

However, change is neither easy nor always successful. Oftentimes, the sponsor of the change may develop cold feet in driving towards it, especially in light of the collateral damage, and this is where history is replete with examples of U-turns taken by organisations that were unable to sustain the journey of change. Also, several times, the organization may lose the will to drive further beyond what may have been attempted, thus either giving up the agenda or reverting to the earlier comfort zones. In fact, in several cases, having sunk time and money, they end up in a state which leaves them with no option but to fold up for the sake of saving on sinking further losses. 

Whatever may the drivers, difficulties or outcomes of the attempt at driving change, the one who needs to come out unscathed in it all is the “change agent”. Often enough he or she is credited or discredited (as the case may be) with the success or failure of the drive towards change. Though one can “be the change one wished to see” (Mahatma Gandhi), one needs to understand that it is an organization consisting of several more who need to believe and drive towards the same- after all, it takes two to tango- Lord Krishna and Arjun! 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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