Is Driving Change Like Running a Gauntlet?

By Daria Steigman, founder of Steigman Communications, LLC and author of the Independent Thinking Blog.

Change is never easy. Add to the mix employee angst, legacy systems, turf battles and institutional inertia, and shifting how you do business can be akin to Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a mountain.

Or, if you are author Jeffrey Hayzlett, it’s like running a gauntlet “every day: threatening, hostile, and scary.” Except, he says, unlike a gauntlet, “no one is going to die.”

In Running the Gauntlet, Hayzlett doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges involved in being a change agent:

“For business leaders, being on the frontier of change every day feels like you’re running the gauntlet. A threatening and hostile business environment surrounds you on all sides… Like the cavalry of old, even when you have all the troops, permissions, strategies, and tools of change, even when you prepare and project well, you will run a gauntlet of saboteurs inside and out.”

The book highlights a number of strategies to break through the resistance and get change moving, including:

  • Being relentless in pushing forward
  • Empowering your employees to lead
  • Putting the right processes in place
  • Accepting and learning from mistakes
  • Looking for what’s not there

For example, Hayzlett writes,

“Whether you are innovating with new products or services, corporate change and  a transformation of your business model is hard enough without having a model for managing the operations that support your people… Whether I’m building a team of motivated marketers, smooth salespeople, or anything else, my first job is not getting them to sell the product; it’s developing the process so they can work together.”

What I liked about Running the Gauntlet is that it’s a good primer on the mindset you must have to be a change agent. What the book lacks, however, is more actionable advice. There is an appendix that includes “20 Questions You Must Ask Before You Begin,” but it feels tacked on rather than incorporated into the narrative. That said, Running the Gauntlet offers a useful reality check for what it takes to push change forward in your business.

Categories: general


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