An old Chinese proverb states, "When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills." As leaders, we have a duty to be persistent builders of windmills in order to harness the power of change.
Change is needed to consistently move our organizations forward and to provide opportunities for growth. Leaders who build walls to combat the winds of change ultimately stymie their organizations' progress.
There's one wall, however, that's particularly injurious: the conflict between management and labor organizations; this enormous management-versus-labor wall must be removed.
One Voice for Change
Management and labor leaders must harness the potential of having one voice and build a team that has the power to make dramatic changes within the organization.
Once the obstacles are removed, leaders must be committed, have determination and have a blueprint as to where the organization is headed. Without these three assets, an organization is destined to go backwards.
Commitment to Moving Forward
Commitment is about letting go—letting go of everything that isn't working, letting go of the way we've done things in the past, reexamining and expanding everything that does work. Commitment is about picking and choosing what's best for our organizations. Commitment is about standing tall, valuing yourself and the organization.
There has to be a commitment from both management and labor leaders that change can and will happen. Now that we're committed to our organizations, don't hesitate to create the future.
When it comes to staying on track, we think of a variety of excuses to rearrange our agreements. Dropping our focus or stopping our forward movement is asking the winds of change to stop blowing. And then our organization will be nowhere—totally becalmed and going nowhere.
Opportunities for change are always presenting themselves, so leaders must continually seek out ways to harness them. Once we have chosen to move forward, we can't go backwards—no debate, no hesitancy. Stay focused on what you're creating now and in the future.
Have a Blueprint in Mind
We must have a plan in mind so we can make adjustments that enable us to harness the full power of the winds. This plan has to include input from stakeholders, such as labor and citizen groups. It's OK to change plans, but we must still stay focused on our original commitment to break down the barriers dividing management and labor. We need to form partnerships that enhance opportunities for the organization.
Leaders must touch land periodically and develop their blueprints from the ground up. With this approach and an eye towards the future, the mechanism that converts the winds of change to progress can be solidly constructed.
Tearing down the walls that impede the winds of change is only the first step to real progress. The next step is to implement the mechanism that's fueled by change—a mechanism built on traditional values and principals but made stronger by change. To achieve this, an organization must have a strong and flexible plan that enables it to harness the full power for the winds without being blown over by them.