In 'The purpose of business' I explained the importance of a clearly defined business purpose to set the higher context for your business and how it changes and impacts lives.
In this, the second article in the Growth Metrics series, we look at addressing challenges and how to effect change.
Business is all about a process of change. It is a personal growth journey – a process of learning, growing and changing. When we start out, we don't have all the capabilities we need – because we've never done it before. So building a business is a journey of creating capability.
One of the ironies about defining your purpose and higher context is that you will inevitably find that the opposite turns up. When you think about it, this makes sense, because success is not possible without overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of it. In business, as in life, success is a journey of learning and growth, and one of the biggest opportunities for that learning and growth is facing challenges and making mistakes.
All businesses face challenges. All businesses will make mistakes. Successful businesses make mistakes. Unsuccessful businesses make mistakes. The differentiating factor is responsibility.
When a business fails and takes responsibility for that failure, it has the opportunity to learn and grow and ultimately succeed. When a business fails and deflects responsibility or blames others including outside influences, it will ultimately fail.
Failure is not necessarily always a bad thing – it may simply be an indication that the business was not right. In Australia, we are prone to judge failure heavily – when failure could simply be seen as a step towards the next success. We all succeed in some elements of our lives and businesses, and fail in others. The key is to understand which areas we want to focus on next to create our success.
The process of change
Once we have determined which elements we want to change, we need to understand that change is a process and work through each step.
- Awareness of the current reality – we cannot change something without understanding the baseline from which we are starting. Our first step is therefore to measure what we want to change. This also helps us confirm whether the issue is real or perceived.
- If the issue is real, we must acknowledge it for what it is – without judgement, without excuses, without denial.
- Next we then actively confirm whether we want to change it or not and if so, whether we make the change now or later. All are valid choices.
- If we want to change and change now, we then plan our strategy for the change.
- Finally, we implement the change plan and then measure again to capture the results.
The important aspect of sustainable change is to do so at a context layer. Meaning that if you change a belief or context of a situation towards the positive, away from the negative action, then change can be easy.
A personal example is that I used to smoke - and was quite good at it, I might add. When I was in my mid-30s I decided that it was time for change. Previously, I had tried to give up and change the pattern of behaviour by setting rules around when I would smoke. I would say to myself, "I'll only smoke when I'm having a coffee or a beer". Well, all that did was make me drink more coffee and beer. Then I told myself I would only smoke at home, not at work. Guess what? That lead to me getting home earlier and earlier. The issue was that I was trying to change the content of my life not the context.
In order to make the change I had to go through the change process.
- Become aware of why I smoked in the first place and why I wanted to change. It might seem simple but it was important for me to follow the process and write down the why for each. My list of reasons to smoke (the justification for my actions) consisted of: smoking relaxes me; it's social (or was more so back then); it gives me time to think, and I enjoy it. The list of reasons to stop was: it doesn't relax me as I'm feeling guilty all the time because I know its doing me harm; it's anti-social; it actually takes me away from my work and distracts the flow of what I'm doing during the day.
- As soon as I was able to acknowledge the fact that I was justifying and judging myself, I could make a real choice to change - and that I did.
- Choice then lead me to strategy.
- My strategy led me to follow the Quitline process (highly recommended by the way).
- Which then led me to the reality that after 6 months I could not image myself ever having been a smoker in the first place.
The empowering experience I had back then was that when I made a choice at a context layer and went through a simple and repeatable process then change could be easy and, most importantly, sustainable.
The same goes for business in all aspects. It is a process of change - whether it be to build more revenue, more profit or to create more lifestyle and time in our world. It is all doable and if you know the process, it is an empowering and energising experience.
By understanding the inevitability of challenges that directly test our higher context, we can see them for what they are – an opportunity to learn and grow; an opportunity to determine whether the current business' limits have been reached; or an opportunity to work through the process of change.
Tim Dwyer is a business growth expert, who specialises in helping businesses strategically grow their assets, increase their business value, and improve their capabilities. Tim would welcome the opportunity to share more with you about Growth Metrics for business. You can contact Tim, and read more of his business insights and advice via his profile and learn more about Growth Metrics here.