Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wind of change

I haven't posted for a little while and to tell you the truth I haven't got a clue what to write now. I am alive and well... 'well' meaning things are pretty much the same. Except that I have been feeling pretty much demotivated by work and the feeling is so acute that it is spilling over into the rest of my life despite my best efforts to contain it and leave 'work' at work.

Change is an inevitable part of work these days and the team I am in are being subjected to a lot of change. I use the work 'subjected' advisedly. I am not one to balk at change. It has always been highlighted as one of my strengths in work appraisals and I have long since realised that change can be for the better and that if not, nothing lasts forever and things can always be changed back, or they will change yet again. I have long since learnt to sway with the wind of change like the reed in Aesop's fable, rather than break like the unbending tree. So why is this change causing so much stress?

While I was studying for my MBA I learnt that change is not just inevitable, but necessary in the business world. Organisations need to be able to adapt to the changing context they operate in. They need to meet evolving customer needs and they need to roll with the punches like the current recession in order to survive. I also learnt that there are methodologies that make such changes easy for everyone involved and that the flip side of that coin is that there are less than satisfactory ways to manage change.

Change is like a journey and if you are leading or managing a change initiative you need to take those affected on the journey with you. You need to be able to communicate what the change is about, why it is necessary and where you are heading.

You must involve those affected, consult with them and ensure that stakeholders are kept up to date and their views considered.

You must be cognisant of cultural factors, particularly when two teams are being amalgamated - all too often the meaning of words can be different as well as the accepted way that things are done.

You must plan how the change is going to happen and delegate areas so that people feel involved. You must get a senior manager to Champion the change and actually lead it in more than name.

You must review progress to ensure you are on track and address any concerns - remember resistors to change are not the enemy, sometimes they are resisting for a very good reason and it could be something you have overlooked!

Last but not least people should know what is happening and when and disruption to normal work should be minimised.

All this is is a 'should do' list, not a 'don't do' list! Change is never easy to manage and it is a learning experience for anyone involved, no matter at what level of the organisation. I have personally helped scope and manage two large change initiatives in the recent past and together with my Masters degree I feel I know the good from the bad from the down right ugly. From where I'm sitting right now, the view is not pretty at all.

If change is managed badly it can leave those affected demotivated and resistant. At best they will shut up and productivity will decline; at worst they may leave, taking skills and knowledge with them or they may undermine the change effort. Change is about making the organisation more effective and perhaps more financially efficient. When change is done badly it can become costly so why is it so often done badly by so many organisations? Essay answers please, on the back of a stamp or delivered by carrier pigeon.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Small Furry Lodgers

I have small furry lodgers, and no, I don't mean the kitties. I was stood out in my back garden when I noticed a buzzing sound. Close by. I looked up and my lodgers were going to and fro from their nest which they had set up in a small bird box near the garage door. Buzz...in through the hole....buzz out the hole...and so on, busy, busy, busy! I have bees of course. Bumble bees and I'm pleased as punch to have them in my garden.

The photo is one of the bees returning. Apologies for the photo clarity, but I didn't want to get too close and the light was poor, but I wanted to get a shot to post and to help identify what type of bumble bee I have. According to *this site*, my black bees with red bottoms most probably the Red Tailed Bumble Bee. I can't be sure as I cannot get close enough (don't want to disturb them and don't want to get stung).

This little bit of research led me to doing more reading about bees. Bees are currently threatened from disease, loss of habitat, loss of bee keepers (really) and more the more aggressive South American breeds. Einstein is quoted as saying " without bees to pollinate our food crops, humans would die off in just 4 years". I checked out Snopes.com and it is unlikely that Einstein actually said this, but the point is no less salient. So, I'm happy to have my lodgers. Bumble bee nests are small and short lived on the whole, so they will move on in time and in the meantime they seem content to share my garden with me.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Having Kittens

Max & Sam, July 1st 2009

My home has been invaded by small furry creatures. Thankfully not the rapidly multiplying Tribbles of Star Trek fame, but rather two Ragdoll kittens which I have named Max and Sam. Max is the seal point (brown nose and brown paw pads) and Sam is the bi-colour (pink nose and paw pads). The brothers are my birthday present to myself and I must say I am thrilled at my choice of gift!

I have missed the presence of a kitty (or two) in my life ever since dear old Bob passed away a couple of months ago. Already, I am starting to see their individual characters. Max is the bolder of the two. He is always first into everything, and he wants to get into everything too.Where Max goes, Sam invariably follows.

But Sam is no sheep. The more timid of the two at first, Sam knows his own mind and once he settled in, seemed to be the more pliable of the two. Already he recognises his name and the word 'no'. Max plays much rougher than Sam and also hogs the toys. If Sam has a toy then Max wants it too. I ma looking forward to getting to know them both better.

Other news is that I had a wonderful weekend away to celebrate my birthday. Chester is a wonderful old town where the buildings are white with black timbers and the shops are double decker with one row built on top of the first complete with covered walkway. The sun shone and I had a lovely time. I was dined at the most wonderful little restaurant, called Upstairs at the Grill run by two people who used to work at the Savoy (in London). I had the best steak I have ever tasted, along with a lovely Stilton Souffle and Creme Brulee, all washed down with some nice Chablis.

I had some lovely gifts too although not all of my family bothered to mark the occasion by even sending a card. Happily many friends did though and quite frankly, that counts a whole lot more in my book. On Thursday I am going out for a late celebration of a few drinks and something to eat with some of those friends which should be a good evening. Meanwhile I have two kitties to keep me entertained : )