Managing inevitable organisational changes

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  • Tuesday, 02 Dec 2014

THERE is this marvellous phenomenon among some species of the animal kingdom. In their lifetime and at specific times of the year or in their lifecycle, they shed their skin or cast off some parts of their outer body. This phenomenon is referred to as ‘moulting’.

Snakes particularly go through this often and when the time comes for them to shed their old skin, they are particularly vulnerable and have to hide until the process is over.

According to some sources, for snakes, moulting has several purposes – to allow growth and to get rid of ticks and mites on its skin.

You might be wondering by now whether I am writing a biology piece or an article about SME business. It is the latter, of course, but bear with me as I come to the point.

For all businesses, change is also something very real that we have to go through every once in a while. Some of these changes may be a result of our own initiatives, some forced upon us due to external pressures or even some caused by unintentional mistakes or bad decisions.

Ultimately and maybe fortunately, nothing is constant forever (except for the earth’s rotation). Change is the only constant.

Just in the last few months this year, I witnessed some changes. The petrol station and eateries I used to patronise suddenly closed and replaced with other businesses.

I can only surmised that some of these shops did not last due to the high competition and the increasing costs of doing business.

Indeed, among the many successful entrepreneurs and SMEs that we read about every day in the news, are people even aware that a number exponentially higher than the successful ones, bites the dust every month?

For the risk adverse, this can be a scary thought. Do we want to go through the change, competition and uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship?

This is a reason why many feared going into business and preferred the safe route of employment. But then again, even with employment, nothing is certain. Even big companies can fold and retrench.

And if we are talking about risk, what about the risk we face each day on the roads?

Regardless of us being safe drivers, we cannot control the behaviour of other drivers on the road.

We cannot always see what is coming. So if we can take those risk every day on the road with our lives on the line, what is the risk of being an entrepreneur?

For entrepreneurs and business owners, change is risky. What if we make the wrong call? What if the change leads to something worst? These are the questions that may keep folks like us awake at night. Hence, some business people can be quite adverse to change.

One businessman I met years ago have his company logo in Chinese typography.

When I asked whether he would consider rebranding since many of his prospects could not read Chinese, he was very resistant. He considered it taboo.

He explained to me that the logo was conceptualised 40 years back and business has been good in the past many years. He was not ready to rock the boat – what if the Chinese logo had brought him luck?

I believe for businesses, we need to come up with a change plan every three to five years.

Like the purpose it served for the animals, this is to give us new perspective, allow growth and help us get rid of redundant process and items. It can be in terms of implementing a whole new strategy, having new people or acquiring new products.

Perhaps even a small change such as rearranging the office furniture? Or it can be in terms of throwing out unproductive practices – such as having people fill up a form that repeats the same information in their resume when they come for job interviews?

Change can be uncomfortable but like it or not, the world is changing rapidly around us.

Can we afford not to change?

> Like some, Jeanisha does not like change very much, especially those not of her doing. But she grows restless if she is doing the same thing for more than five years. New things are a challenge but it keeps her driven. Talk to her at

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