At the Jewish Communal Service Association’s annual program today, change was the name of the game. Jerry Silverman, CEO of Jewish Federations of North America in particular spoke about two kinds of change that we need to embrace: First, accepting that constant change is the “new normal” (the theme of the JCSA conference), and second, the need to confidently lead through change, whether that be changing economic times, new technologies, and evolving cultures.
On the first, we need to learn how to be more nimble — learning new skills, evolving our decision making processes to be able to move more swiftly, and being able to adjust structures to keep the machine humming when the outside world shifts.
But all of this is only possible when we are successful with the second. Leading through change is a great challenge, that involves not only good business strategy, but excellent communication, team building, listening, and attention to the psychology of change, not only the logistics of change. If the Jewish community needs one thing, it’s people who are superb leaders in times of change.
Several years ago, when Darim was shifting from our original work of building web sites to a focus on training, coaching and consulting, I read a powerful book, Managing Transitions, by William Bridges. The take home message: Change is situational (like a light switch), but transition is psychological (a process). We need leaders who know what change needs to be made to thrive in the “new normal”, but those same leaders also need to facilitate a transition, which requires a whole different set of skills.
If you haven’t noticed, the Jewish community isn’t the only one recognizing this need. (It’s comforting to know we’re not behind the curve on this one!) A flurry of new books are hitting the shelves focused on change strategy and management in today’s world:
- Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath (from Amazon.com): In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.
- The Power of Pull, by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, Lang Davison (from Amazon.com): In a radical break with the past, information now flows like water, and we must learn how to tap into its stream. But many of us remain stuck in old practicespractices that could undermine us as we search for success and meaning. Drawing on pioneering research, The Power of Pull shows how to apply its principles to unlock the hidden potential of individuals and organizations, and how to use it as a force for social change and the development of creative talent.
Coming out soon:
- Open Leadership, by Charlene Li (co-author of Groundswell) (from Amazon.com): “Be Open, Be Transparent, Be Authentic” are the current leadership mantras-but companies often push back. Business is premised on the concept of control and yet the new world order demands openness-leaders do not know how to be open and be in control. This must-have resource will help the modern leader understand how to lead in the new open world-where blogging, twittering, facebooking, and digging are becoming the norm. the author lays out the steps that leaders must take to transform their organizations and themselves into being “open” -and exactly what that will mean.
- Empowered, by Josh Bernoff (co-author of Groundswell) (from Amazon.com): Fueled by data from Forrester Research, Empowered is packed with the business tools and information necessary to move your organization several steps ahead … and lead … your people (who are) armed with cheap, accessible technology, and are connecting with customers and building innovative new solutions.
What are your strategies for managing change? Where have you been successful? What’s hard? Do you have advice or other resources to add to the conversation? Onward!