EDITIONS

Build bridges, not walls

Align your strategies to help build a successful corporate culture

Surya Saha
14th Mar 2018
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Nothing is permanent in today's world other than change. Even though this phrase has been written around 2500 years in the past by way of the historic Greek philosopher/logician Heraclitus, they may be as actual these days as they had been then, in particular to times when we talk about commerce, businesses and organizations. For, example, in a few years time we can well have goods introduced to our private home by means of a drone and at present, we already witness a few pizza corporations exploring drones as a way of domestic delivery. 

Although I agree and support the fact that the use of drones should be regulated in order to prevent any misuse, it's inevitable that this in days to come will become a profitable alternative in the commercial space in particular to logistics business or even in the business of providing security to name a few. So ideally, what we are seeking here is the change that will drive every stage of our lives that eventually is bound to re-shape the culture around us. Innovation, need to achieve more with less, ease of operations, cost-effective means, growth, etc. must then go hand-in-hand with a culture that demands continual preparation to adapt to any change i.e., a journey that starts from awareness to full adoption. So how well we as leaders are building this culture to shape our future that includes the efficiency in mitigating risks?

Issac Newton once said “we build too many walls and not enough bridges” and this not just only signify in an organizational context but also from the viewpoint of our own mindset i.e., Newton speaks of the walls and bridges we create in our minds meaning we create too many limitations, obstacles and problems, instead of creating solutions and finding ways to do something (not generalizing though), or to make things better. Why do we do this? Because it is easier and doesn't take any effort and because many are afraid of change and see it as something bad. But change is an essential part of life and it will be a blunder to make it our enemy. 

Building walls create the illusion of protection and feeling of safety but stalls and hinder us on our way to success and growth. The quotation above could also be interpreted as a calling to be more open-minded and imaginative and to think positively and look for ways to solve things and make things better, instead of looking for excuses and ways to avoid taking action for the better. Does this now make sense? Well, it does but what’s more important to understand here is the effective application from an organizational and leadership angel.

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Like for example, Qantas Airways Limited is one the best in embracing change in the aviation industry. The Airways has showcased some commendable potential to manage and adapt to every change possible from operations to marketing to organizational structures determining its competitive position. This understanding to respond towards betterment and to cope with the outside environment is the most crucial element for growth. 

For Qantas, they applied a change methodology to respond to various influences that otherwise may affect their business heavily if not managed well without having the fear of the unknown. For reference, some of the influences that I am talking here are oil price increase, fluctuations in currency value, increased competition in the low-cost flying space, human resources problems to name a few.

With this, we know change is the alteration that is constantly occurring in our internal and external environment. But what is organizational change? In a Lehman language, I would say it is the way an organization adopts new ideas and behaviours to benefit its stakeholders. To dig a little deeper, most organizations face change, some will adapt to it, some carefully plan for it, some forcefully get pulled into an application and some just avoid change who although fail and gets slowly but surely buried in between today’s competition. 

Thus the ability to manage and embrace change through altering culture and continuous learning will largely determine the competitive advantage and the business survival. Not to forget the inner meaning here that managing change necessitates risk and needs robust leadership skills and responsive management structures. The long-term survival depends on the ability of the people who reflects leadership to scan the environment, predict future and exploit change. Although the change may be seen as the most daunting challenge confronting management, the rewards are great for those who are prepared to accept the challenge.

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The world is changing and in many industries, it remains a growing concern towards sustainability and efficiency. There is a call for change and change signifies cultural alteration to impact the business landscape and this must be inclusive aligning leadership with its people, culture and collective vision. It’s all about drawing the picture and look for opportunities to build possible bridges to nurture growth.

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