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Adapting to the inevitability of change

My old friend Rob Clifford, managing director of mortgageforce, was on Radio Five last week explaining to listeners how the market had got itself into a mess and what should be done to weather the storm.

The programme was interesting in many ways but most significantly the majority of callers were brokers using the platform to emphasise to listeners that now’s the time to seek their advice.

Hearing the brokers talk on the radio made me think of a book I recently read, Who moved my cheese by Dr Spencer Johnson. The book looks at how people deal with change.

Survival of the fittest is a common theme at the moment and my circumstances changed recently, which reminded me that we must change the way we operate to ensure we’re still around this time next year.

Johnson uses cheese as a metaphor for what you want in life. Using four different characters, he demonstrates that when it comes to predicting how events will pan out, the writing is usually on the wall.

It’s how we react to these signs that dictates our individual success or failure in adapting and reacting to future events.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people throw in the towel or bury their heads in the sand when things get interesting. To cope with change, Johnson says we should follow six principles:

  • Accept that change happens.
  • Anticipate it.
  • Monitor it.
  • Adapt to it quickly.
  • Do it.
  • Enjoy it.

Johnson uses four categories to describe workers dealing with change. First there are the Sniffs, the self-motivators who can see where the market is going and develop services and products to ensure their survival. Then there are the Scurrys, those who ensure the Sniffs’ ideas get to market in the first place.

Third there are the Haws – those who are initially reluctant to accept change but are open-minded enough to adapt over time. Eventually they become the backbone of businesses that thrive on change.

Finally there are the Hems, who are afraid to change. Unfortunately, if they cannot be converted they will have to be shown the door.

Johnson’s book is fascinating and I would recommend it. Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it because the blighters will continue to move the cheese.

I’ll leave you with this question. Do you know who the Sniffs, Scurrys, Haws and Hems are in your business? If not I suggest you find out and soon.

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