shutterstock_227399860-575x422By Margot Cairnes. Most organisations are reluctant to undertake fundamental changes during a slow economy. They typically down size and restructure the business to eliminate costs but rarely invest in changes that impact the way they do business or prepare themselves for the future. Hard times, however, provide a great opportunity to gain a competitive edge by rethinking the fundamentals.

As others hunker down, cutting costs, limiting marketing budgets, sacking staff and generally waiting for the bad times to go away, it may be the perfect opportunity for you move towards becoming the industry disrupter. Even in slow economies business goes on. If you can maintain and improve on service levels as others falter and fail you can use this time to create breakthroughs. When things are tough you are provided with a burning platform making it is easier to get buy in for change, even the kind of radical change that will put you out in front.

Attaining the right levels of thinking

Transformation is not about how much money or resources you throw at doing things differently, but rather rests on developing the right levels of thinking within the organisation. A traditional change management plan lead from the top will be limited by what the people at the top can imagine. Their view point is restricted by their biases and preferences.
When a whole organisation is limited by socialised levels of thinking, the status quo is encouraged and what Larry Quirk (in Resilient futures) calls MAD change (or (Managed Adaptive Decline) rules the day. This is total folly in an age of disruption.
Gary Hamel, professor from the London Business school advises that every stakeholder in the organisation should be able to contribute and suggest strategic alternatives. The ability to identify threats, opportunities and initiate product change initiatives should not be restricted to the preferences and biases of those at the top.

Collective Leadership

Collective leadership, according to Sonia MacDonald from LeadershipHQ, recognises that there are leaders to be discovered at all levels of an organisation. Each staff member brings with them a unique set of skills and experience. Allowing for each to take a position of leadership is not only good for the individual, it is great for the team and the outcome for the entire change initiative.

These biases and preferences can impact the change readiness and ability of leaders and the people they lead to adapt.
Identifying your leaders with elevated modes of thinking

The smart way to create rapid and effective change is to find the independent, creative thinkers, and reward and recognise them for their input and suggestions. The run of the mill, socialised thinkers, whose main motivation is to fit in, will start to look to these independent people as role models.

While this starts out as behaviour change, in time, the level of thinking of the whole organisation will rise. The brain changes with repetition and consistency over time .

To learn more about current challenges in change management and how to overcome them please download the 12SFB whitepaper, Why most current change management practices will harm your business.

The 12SFB programme helps organisations overcome their negative collective emotions to build an environment based on pride, joy, collaboration and commitment. It will help you develop your emotional aperture so you can better perceive group emotions. To learn more about this programme please visit