What are your first thoughts when faced with a new change? A recent research carried out in the US showed that children between the ages of three to five years showed a creativity index of 98%.
The same group of children, when tested for creativity between the ages of five to eight, showed a creativity index of 32%. When the creativity test was done across a sample size of youth who were 25 years of age, their creativity index showed 2%.
Hence, we can safely pronounce that people perform better when they connect to their natural aptitudes. What do we do? We take people away from their natural talent and lock them into job descriptions. Thereafter, we expect them to perform their best.
Compare the two groups of children, i.e., 3-5 aged versus when they grew into ages between 5-8 years. Why was there a drop? Well, during the younger ages they had no inhibitions. No one told them don’t do this or that. No one tried to programme their innocent, unbiased thinking.
When they pass the five-year threshold, the parents, school teachers, Sunday school teachers, aunts and uncles imbed their way of thinking into the child. Hence, barriers, beliefs, fears, etc., are born in the child’s mind. From there onwards, it is the imbedded way of thinking and not the child’s own thinking that tends to prevail when faced with situations.
These were some of the thoughts expressed by Nalin Jayasuriya, Managing Director & CEO of McQuire Rens & Jones (Pvt) Ltd., when he was recently invited to address the Annual Sales Conference of Covidien Ltd., a $10 billion global healthcare products leader dedicated to innovation and long-term growth. Covidien is part of the local fabric of the communities where they operate.
Deriving more than 40% of sales from outside the United States, Covidien’s success wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of 42,000 employees, who live in more than 60 countries. Nearly two-thirds of the company’s colleagues work in 58 manufacturing facilities located in 16 countries. In addition, there are more than 5,000 sales representatives in more than 60 countries meeting the company’s customers’ needs every day.
Jayasuriya drew examples from Ernst & Young which was founded in England in 1849 as Harding Pullein, Nordstrom, General Electric (GEC), Eastman Kodak and Dell to drive home the advantages of continuous change to take advantage of changing global market conditions.
He spoke of the changes that Jack Welch brought into GE where when he took over as CEO of GE in 1981; the market capitalisation was US$ 13 billion and when he left GE in 2000, the market capitalisation of GE had risen to a staggering US$ 500 billion. Jayasuriya further spoke of the seven key changes that Welch introduced into the GE business:
• Develop a vision for the business
• Change the culture to achieve the vision
• Flatten the organisation
• Eliminate bureaucracy
• Empower individuals
• Raise quality and efficiency
• Eliminate boundaries
During his presentation, Jayasuriya spoke of the changing business trends referring to the 1950s as the era for sale of baby food and nappies, 1960s as the era for schools and education, 1970s for car sales, 1980s – real estate, 1990s – fast food chains and mega supermarkets and 2000s, the age of ICT, digital and broadband.
He stated that several senior managers, when promoted to the high profile responsibility of CEO, find it all too hard to give up their previous behaviour and attitudes that befitted their previous responsibility as managers and to adjust to their new roles as CEOs. It is because several of such managers feel comfortable playing their known, comfort-based roles. The result is that they start interfering with the functions of their direct reports.
Prudent companies devote time and mechanisms to grow and develop the maturity, spirituality and capacity of promotable managers before they are promoted. This way the transition of the promotion process is a smooth one.
The organisation is but the lengthening shadow of its leaders. So, CEOs must watch out! We must learn to make the best of changing situations and rise above the dust of uncertainty. Most organisations that have proved globally to be successes are those that identified, understood and make rapid plans and actions to change and get the best of it. Jayasuriya ended his presentation by bringing to bear the following thoughts among the participation:
• Change brings us out of our comfort zone because with change comes the need to grow and adapt.
• Change is dependent on attitude and contribution.
• Appreciating change allows us the opportunity to use our energy productively.
• Resisting change is constrictive and deadens energy.
• Change keeps us on our toes and if we are watchful we will adapt and grow.