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Thursday, January 31, 2019

5A Principle - A mindset about managing change

As organizations strive to increase productivity and reduce total cost of ownership, the reasons to jump on the “agile” train expecting it to solve all challenges seem to raise. Social media has scores of posts questioning agile practices. In my mind, agility is simply a “mindset about managing change”. At the end of the day, if one is truly nimble about embracing the right change at the right time the right way, then, agility should result in a) increasing value to the customer, b) increasing quality to the product, c) reducing speed to market, and d) reducing cost to operations. To achieve these goals, I propose a 5A principle to truly being ‘agile’ These 5A’s are “Awake, Arise, Adopt, Adapt, and Adept”. These stages are cyclical in nature. Let me illustrate these in the sections below. While reading this, think of the “change management framework” in mind rather than treat this as a methodology to implement agile.

Change is the only constant today. All the five competitive forces suggested by Michael Porter are a reality today.  The potential entry of new players, competitive pressures of the consumer, global market refinement and product differentiation of existing players, innovative distribution channels, and intense rivalry among competitors are making the famous economist, Schumpeter's notions of "Creative Destruction" a reality. In addition, disruptive innovation suggested by Clayton Christensen is taking industries over with ideas opening up new avenues of doing business. Unless we wake up to smell the reality, we will eliminate ourselves.

John F. Kennedy once asked people to think of what they can do the country instead of what the country can do to them. Most of today's workforce is still expecting their employers to train them and tell them what to do. People fail to take their future in their hands and wait for the right opportunity. An anonymous quote reads, “If opportunity does not knock, build a door.”  The successful people are those that are not only awake but arise by training themselves with the required knowledge and volunteer to gain the required experience for the right opportunity to knock.

Many fear if they will make the right decision and stumble to move forward. If we walk back on our memory lane in the past, are we all certain that we always made the right decision? If we did, we wouldn’t have the expression, “In hindsight, vision is 20-20.” No one can predict what the future can bring. If fear had ruled, would anyone of us now know the depths of the ocean or the height of the space? What we are today is the result of overcoming fear and not yielding to it. So, don’t worry about making the right decision but proactively work towards making the decision right. We can do that by adopting individual strategies that meet our goals.”

A wise man once said, "Show me a person that has not failed, and I will show you a failure." Life is not about what happens to us but how we react to it. If one has learned from failure and applied the lesson learned from such failure, then, one has turned failure into success. Did you know that Walt Disney was fired from his job for lack of imagination? It was only thousands of failed attempts that got Edison to get us the light bulb. Failure is not when you fall down but when you don’t get up again. So, adapt to the trends, refine your approach, and create your voice.

No matter how much you know there is room for growth. The wise also shares the responsibility to train the next generation. The value of knowledge lies when it is shared. Many claim luck as the special ingredient available only to the privileged. I always used to say, LUCK is also "Labor Under Correct Knowledge." So, find a mentor to enrich your knowledge, spread your knowledge by training and coaching others, and better yet become adept at being a student of knowledge. The more you know the more you understand how little you know. That awareness awakes you to a new reality where learning continues.

I have used this 5A principle during my training and teaching and have found my proprietary 5A principle is a good reference framework for people to improve themselves personally and professionally.

Share your comments and let me know if you would like to hear more!

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