Change management as a practice is a big topic, and we often hear that the businesses which fail to change with changing environment are at a real disadvantage. But what does that mean?

The co-founder of consultancy business Harley Young, Philip Cox-Hynd, dovetails his expertise in human development with strategy and process improvement in order to drive positive change in business. Philip’s expertise in business combined with a decades-deep insight into human development led to him becoming a strategic and cultural change management expert. Through his company, Harley Young, the author has designed and implemented growth-led change programs for large and small corporations such as Barclays, Pfizer, Microsoft, Arup and Ella’s Kitchen.

“Transformation’ is a prevalent word across all sorts of industries and facets of life. It is applied to health and fitness, careers, self-image, even interior design. But it was used a lot on the ‘80s American pop psychology scene, and is now experiencing a resurgence in modern business. Several decades ago, I attended a seminar, at which the facilitator held up an apple and said, “If I were to transform this apple using the literal meaning of ‘transform’ I would be holding an orange.” Indeed, transformation refers to a thing entirely changing its essence, ceasing to be what it was and beginning as an entirely new thing. However much we may apply ‘transformation’ to business situations, this is not a realistic expectation. So if we can’t achieve transformation, how about pursuing simple change instead?

It is in our nature as humans to go to lengths to avoid change. While our nature is also commendably adaptable, as is evident from the wide range of living conditions we survive around the world, we experience a strong compulsion to avoid making changes, especially if we haven’t chosen the change ourselves. In order to make change happen, and for it to really take effect, there are two truths that must be faced: change can be uncomfortable at times, and it won’t work unless a critical proportion of employees share enthusiasm about it and recognise the need for it.

What constitutes a mindful approach? Consider for a moment the expectations that you hold in everyday life, from what you’ll have for dinner tonight to where in the world you will live in twenty years. You could approach these expectations by trying to adjust your life and actions to make them more achievable, and with some things, this works. But in the long-term and on a wider scale, it is often far more practical to open your mind to the possibilities that you had never even thought of, and allow yourself to be receptive of these possibilities. This is a mindful approach.

The majority of my career has revolved around the psychology of change, and the ways in which we can make measurable and maintainable changes in business. My work as Lead Change Consultant on the Viagra project for Pfizer saw the drug brought to market nine months ahead of schedule, while such a new lease on life was brought to Ella’s Kitchen, the organic baby and toddler food company, that it was later sold very successfully in 2013.

‘Change or die’ might strike you as an overly melodramatic way of phrasing it, but the severity does speak to our natural resistance to change. I believe that living life at work and at home by a ‘change by choice’ mantra is a far better way of doing it. Choice should always be your preference, and you always have a choice.

Author: Philip Cox-Hynd,


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