The days of fearing and avoiding change are gone. At least that is what Guy Smith, executive vice president of premium drink company Diageo, believes. According to Smith, fear of change is a major factor holding companies back from realizing their true potential.
Smith, who has nearly four decades of experience at public relations agencies and was a special adviser to President Bill Clinton's impeachment defense team, has recently authored a book along with other members of the Diageo corporate relations team entitled, "If It's Not Impossible, It's Not Interesting: Leveraging Personal Experience to Create a High Performance Team" (Lulu, 2012). According to Smith, change is not a thing to be feared, rather it should be embraced.
"The first step is simple: eliminate personal beliefs and social pressures that new ideas, large-scale changes, and innovations cannot be achieved by ordinary people," Smith said. "Reframe what is possible. To do this, I believe all we need to give our teams is the motivation — and the support — to strive to achieve more than others think is reasonable or possible."
Below, Smith shared seven steps for companies looking to benefit from making a change:
- Believe in yourself –"Life-changing and market-leading achievements require individuals and team members to believe in their ability to accomplish the task," Smith said. "This creates a critical starting point, giving one a sense that there are no barriers too big to overcome."
- Believe in the mission –"From the start, everyone on the Diageo corporate relations team understood what we were working toward, creating a common goal that supersedes all else," Smith said. "But we didn’t stop there. Everyone carried the fundamental belief that what he or she needed to accomplish was of enduring value, even when others refused to believe achieving it would be possible."
- Be willing to change the rules of the game — "Change is one of the most common and most feared concepts — in business and in life, especially in corporate America," Smith said. "Yet one of the keys to achieving the impossible is being willing to change the rules of the game. It takes the ability to look into the future and see that 'the game' can be played differently. Diageo first changed the rules of the game when we stopped treating critics as 'the enemy.' Instead, Diageo shifted to a practice of openness and 'constructive engagement' that created real dialogue and progress."
- Have the humility to ask for and use help—"Athletes are trained to support their teammates with an RBI, an assist, a pass, whatever," Smith said. "This is a natural part of teamwork and working against a common opponent. In the business world, however, 'the team' and 'goal' are often not nearly so obvious. To make corporate teams truly effective, they need to develop a clear, shared vision and identify the issues that truly require shared focus and effort. But asking for help does not come naturally to all people. In addition, many corporate teams are not structured to engage in this way, and in actuality, are not really a team at all."
- Focus all available assets against a single objective —"To make substantial change, the individual and the team have to assemble a broad range of resources and commit these resources to the shared goal. This is when the impact is most evident," Smith said.
- Have the tenacity to relentlessly, tirelessly persist —"Making fundamental changes in any complex environment takes a great deal of persistence," Smith said. "One has to have a vision for the future and persevere toward that vision, working day after day, week after week, year after year, to accomplish the end goal."
- Use your knowledge, skills, experience and training — "People with training in a profession or skill have changed their definition of impossible because they have learned and practiced the component skills necessary to achieve seemingly impossible tasks," Smith said. "Even when a new situation appears impossible to the well-trained individual, his or her training 'kicks in' and helps that person figure out how to create success out of certain failure."
Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.