How to Embrace Complex Change

As we come to the end of 2018, Brexit remains top of mind for many marketers and the business community at large. The more I contemplate probable outcomes, both in the Parliament and for the business community at large, the more I appreciate the complexity of Brexit’s implication for marketers and the good work we do for our respective businesses. In this edition, therefore, I’d like to reflect on insights from an article I’d read a while ago – regarding career planning actually - but one that helped me make some sense to changes Brexit might induce in the near term. The author, Linda Brimm – an Emeritus Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD – suggests navigating through what she’s aptly called the seven Cs, which we shall now consider in turn:

Complexity: We need to consider all the factors at play in the imminent change. Taking time to independently think through each, speaking with affected stakeholders, and obtaining third-party counsel every time possible. For example, I live Cornwall - renowned for its picturesque beauty and marked reliance on EU-funded economic development projects. Here, some people think that Brexit might mean new business opportunities in the region while others think Brexit may stunt economic growth. To prosper either way, my recommendation is to gear up for opportunities both locally and beyond while continuing to scan the horizon for what might come out of the exchange between Brussels and Westminster

Clarity: We next need to understand and prioritize all the issues as I did in a previous blog titled ‘Brexit Outcomes and Implications for Marketing Planning’. Having this kind of clarity can curtail the anxiety with which we face uncertainties associated with complex change anticipated with Brexit

Confidence: We have to believe that change will be successful. To quote Linda, ‘an executive must feel capable of managing the change while realizing that many challenges can’t be predicted or controlled’. Many of us, marketers and businesses active today, made it through at least the last recession. In the same vein, we need to believe that we will make it through the environmental and internal changes that Brexit will usher into play. And with that confidence we can make excellent decisions as Brexit realities dawn for us all

Creativity: Consequently, we need to brainstorm innovative solutions to problems as they arise. Some of the suggestions from my previous blog on ‘Better Brainstorming’ would be very useful here

Commitment: As the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. Once we have decided on a course of action, we now need to take the first steps to implement change. This is not a time to vacillate between options but to bravely approach our choice with a resolve to succeed. When I read the original article, cognisant of role of Marketing in Change Management, I anticipated Brexit might lead to an emergence of Business Transformation and Programme Management opportunities in my primary market and so undertook professional qualifications in that area with a view to be ready when the opportunities emerge

Consolidation: We next need to let go of previous identity to embrace the new one. This is the time to focus on the benefits of change rather than on what we’ll miss from the previous reality. For example, rather than see forthcoming change as an era of doing less marketing, I see it an opportunity to grow into General Management – a territory where I would lead enterprise-wide change to create value as marketers should!

Change: Finally, we need to live in the change and its implications. As Brexit dawns on us, we need the courage and positive energy to celebrate and make the best of our new realities. We need the boldness to keep pursuing the all the good things we anticipated in the choice we’ve made. Personally, my primary market is evolving already but I eagerly await the full blown change.

As it did for me, I hope Linda’s seven Cs help you navigate and embrace whatever complex change lies ahead of you. By the time you read this, for all we know, Brexit may even have taken another dimension that makes it more complex than it is at the point of writing! Meanwhile, for help with relevant marketing skills and networking opportunities in the South West, you are invited to our events listed here or for broader menu of CIM training possibilities, see our training website. As always, we’ll be happy to hear about your experience regarding implications of Brexit for your career and business via CIM Community South West LinkedIn Group.

Article reference: ‘How to Embrace Complex Change’ by Linda Brimm. Harvard Business Review, September 2015

About the author:

Tunde Awe is the Vice Chair for CIM's South West regional board. Find out more about Tunde.