Issue #33 July 2017

Managing Change
Around 500 BC Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change.” Over 2500 years later, change is happening at breakneck speed and yet change is often the hardest thing to initiate within an organisation.

After 30 years of research, leadership guru Dr John Kotter (among others) has shown that 70% of all major change efforts in organisations fail. Common reasons for such failures are lack of alignment and buy-in, resistance to change and poor communication of the aims or purpose of any change.

Long-lasting change is the most difficult activity that we undertake.  And it pays to remember that it’s not organisations that change, it’s the people that change.  You cannot convince anyone to change if they see no urgent reason for doing so. And often the greatest blockers to change are managers fearful of losing power or wanting to protect “the way we do things here”.

To promote change, you must have a defined need in order to create urgency and a vision of a better future to help direct the change effort.  Create a vivid picture and communicate the vision for buy-in.  So, when Jamie Oliver wanted parents to support a change in eating habits at a US school, he dumped a truckload of animal fat in the school grounds to show how much fat the kids ate over a certain period.

You can also activate peer pressure and identify key influencers within the organisation.  Embracing a new behaviour typically follows a diffusion curve – early adopters, safe followers, late-comers – and key influencers make the curve tip.

A one-size-fits-all template won’t help you change.  At Balfour Consulting, we work with clients to change behaviours by combining different approaches in order to define the destination vividly, activate social processes, tweak the situation and revamp traditional human resource levers.

Regionally based & winning
Being Townsville-based is no impediment to winning business elsewhere in Australia. Balfour Consulting recently won a contract to undertake client and stakeholder research for a company providing training and placement services to GP practices across New South Wales. Cost and experience were key factors in our success, with location only relevant in how it impacts our overheads, making us more cost competitive than Sydney-based research companies. 

Fresh Eyes
After being away from Townsville for just over three years, it was interesting to come back and view the city with fresh eyes. What I see is an attractive city with a lot of positives that should underpin growth for the next decade and beyond. Townsville is well set to become the most influential regional city in Australia as it moves beyond being a regional service centre to becoming a centre of tropical expertise with linkages to the fast-growing Asian market, rivalled only by Darwin.

Integrating the Strand, the CBD, Palmer Street and the new stadium, as proposed by Council, will take Townsville to another level. As new projects are progressed, I hope the focus is on finding a uniquely Townsville “persona” that engages with our local lifestyle and climate and does not simply clone what has happened elsewhere. The next decade or so should see Townsville mature as a city, creating a clearly defined and unique market position that will differentiate us nationally and internationally from other Australian cities.