For the courageous minority that fears uncertainty yet acts anyway, here is some advice on making the case for change.
Look around: global economic crisis, political upheaval, disruptive technology. No organization or individual is immune to these changes. And few industries are as impacted by these changes as the meeting sector, where these forces and others aggressively collide. But despite the urgent need to address these issues, the majority of us continue to resist change in the way we meet, and in the way we conduct the business of meetings.
Indeed, barriers to change generally fall into two categories: individual and organizational. Actually, it’s the overemphasis on process issues over people issues that experts attribute the high failure rate of change initiatives to, up to 70 percent by most estimates.
In terms of individual barriers, know that resistance to change is normal and expected. Skepticism of new ideas is actually healthy; it’s intransigent resistance that impedes on business objectives. Misunderstandings and miscommunications are also common, often exacerbated in industries and organizations under duress and in greater need of change.
Other individual barriers to change include:
- Low tolerance for change
- Fear of the unknown
These underscore the powerful and dynamic nature of individual change needs. Without the awareness of the need for change, the desire to make it happen, the knowledge about how to change and the reinforcement of new skills and behavior, any initiatives will have little chance of success.
Actually, it’s the emphasis on process issues over people issues that experts attribute the high failure rate of change initiatives to, up to 70 percent by most estimates.
In terms of organizational barriers, poorly managed change processes contribute to a climate of mistrust and misunderstanding. Add to this volatile mix a lack of preparation and planning, dedicated resources and incentives and buy-in from senior management, workgroups and individuals, and you start to wonder why failure rates aren’t higher.
Whatever the reason, individual or organizational, you must anticipate resistance and be prepared to respond to it rationally and emotionally. For the former, begin with a clear understanding of the problem at hand. Without this, the ideas you generate, the criteria you use to evaluate those ideas and the action plans you put in place will likely lead you further from the most sensible solution.
On an emotional level, build trust and security. Be prepared to explain the need for change, provide relevant information and involve all stakeholders in the process. Ultimately, the change management process is simply a tool for delivering results. The change itself takes place one individual at a time, changing thinking, beliefs and behaviors.
The meeting industry has always struggled to keep pace with the rate of change going on in the world around us. The adoption of distance learning technologies and utilization of social media are just two examples from recent decades where we failed to lead and are now busy playing catch-up. Today, solutions exist for many of the challenges we face. We need only open our eyes and ears, roll up our sleeves and embrace the change we want to see in our industry.
Start today. And visit MPI's business value of meetings research page for the tools you need to start the change.
business value of meetings,
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One+ April 2012,