How to Thrive on Change

“Call it the resilience gap. The world is becoming turbulent faster than organizations are becoming resilient.” The Quest for Resilience, Harvard Business Review (2003). By Gary Hamel and LiisaVälikangas

Leaders face extraordinary conditions that are caused by global business interdependencies. If you are a small business owner in Pakistan you may be buffeted by the price of commodities in Africa. Never before have leaders had to be as smart and effective in facing and working with change directly.

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Major business publications like Harvard Business Review, Sloan MIT Journal and the Economist have acknowledged and stated unequivocally that the times leaders work in are unmatched in the history of business.

The concept of a ‘VUCA world’ first originated in the US military. In recent years it’s become a popular management acronym, used to describe the difficult business environment many find themselves working within. It stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. In the past it was broadly assumed that organizations would experience times of change and transition, but would then settle into a stable ‘business as usual state’. The modern day reality is that many organizations face change after change in rapid succession and ‘business as usual’ no longer exists. For most modern day organizations rapid, constant change is now the norm. This is having a number of impacts on employees.”

Setting aside causes, the most impactful manner to deal with this fundamental change is to learn the skills and tools of change and transformation.

It is not nearly sufficient to act linearly or sequentially as if it is business as usual. We must become agents of change and unafraid of transformation. Transformation is the cognitive and emotional ability to take that which was of value previously and apply it in remarkably new ways.

Three extraordinary skill sets accessible to all leaders cover the three domains of human awareness: Awareness of self (insight and emotional intelligence); Awareness of others (empathy and social intelligence) and Awareness of Context (organizational intelligence). All three are necessary to meet the challenges of today and the future. Humans are incredibly trainable due to our wonderfully adaptive brains.

You will note that the title does not say coping or making the best of change. Thriving is a requirement for any company that intends to compete in today’s turbulent times.

The tools explored are:

  • Developing emotional intelligence through self-regulation of reactions.
  • Training the brain to focus sharply but also relax when necessary.
  • Generating Goodwill in the face of conflict.
  • Cultivating Goodwill even when there are strong differences of view and the presence of negative emotions.


The most basic environment in which results are produced is a meeting.

You can influence the culture of any company by transforming individual behavior and the quality of the meeting process.

In any meeting, teams, functions and organizations can thrive on change by simple but not easy interventions.

Three tools are suggested:

  1. Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for the meeting (what you do prior to meeting)
  2. Focusing the team or group sharply and sustainably on the agenda and its desired results (what you do during a meeting)
  3. Facing differences of opinion and points of view directly with skill and tools  (During the meeting)

Leaders are uniquely qualified to transform their ability and the effectiveness of their organizations by developing core competence in change management.

It is a bit like dancing during an earthquake or in a sandstorm-the earth shakes, it seems like you are walking blindly but there are tools and skills that make the journey workable and outcomes beneficial.

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