The Constant State of Change: Reactive – or Ready?

“Expect change. Analyze the landscape. Take the opportunities. Stop being the chess piece. Become the player.” – Tony Robbins

Every company and practitioner in the financial services industry deals with change on a daily basis and the pace of technology and shifts in consumer preferences show no signs of slowing. It’s widely understood that changes in the business climate are inevitable and continuous, but avoiding extinction through insolvency or absorption takes research, resolve and commitment.

Individuals and organizations who are serious about their success have plans to deal with change, but though they may be straight from the pages of the latest best-selling business books, many of the best-known processes for dealing with change are reactive instead of proactive. What’s your approach to change? 

Change management became a widely-used buzzword after John P. Kotter’s 1996 book, “Leading Change” became an international best seller. Dubbed “the father of change management,” Dr. Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Change was revolutionary before the internet became a utility we use as commonly as electricity.

Today, if a company comes to the realization that they need change management, it’s likely already too late. By its very definition, “change management” describes handling the effects of an event that has already occurred – which is not the way modern, cutting edge companies and producers operate in pursuit of growth and market domination. Another concept to emerge in recent years is change readiness. This concept and its tenets take initiative as opposed to change management’s response-oriented program, but it’s still a reactive way of dealing with industry, technology and consumer developments. 

The days of viewing change as an infrequent occurrence are over. Thriving – or even merely keeping up – in a digital world and capturing highly sophisticated customers requires the realization that change readiness and management must be part of standard operating procedure and move into a permanent, proactive state of change expectation.

The key to building a culture that supports, executes and sustains change effectively lies at the core of why most everyone from executives to support staff made their careers in mortgage, real estate and financial services.

Before companies can position themselves to weather inevitable and ongoing change successfully, leaders must set the stage for everyone in their ranks to have the “a-ha moment” of understanding that they are in a business of change by definition and that the same things that make them good at their jobs as they’ve always done them will help them to perform better, enjoy their work more and rise to the top of the industry as individuals in their specialties and team members of a highly successful, respected and profitable organization as the industry continues to evolve.

Change expectancy occurs when the principles and processes for dealing with change aren’t outside of or in addition to the philosophy, premise and practice of running an organization – they become infused and internalized. Organizations that fail to go all-in with not only acknowledging imminent change but anticipating and accepting it without question will be reluctantly dragged along in technology’s wake or left in the dust altogether as their preemptive competitors blaze a trail of excellence and innovation toward the future.

Change is constant. You have the choice to be reactive and let change happen to you or you can be proactive and make that same change propel you towards success.  What path will you take?