With that title apparently I have developed a penchant for editorial drama. But what if your ability to adapt to changing circumstances was the key between life and death? Before Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and senior fellow at Yale, left active duty, he learned that sometimes it was.
This idea was one of the key messages in his morning keynote on day two of the 2014 ASTD conference.
The risks in business are not as dear as those soldiers face trying to rout out Al-Qaeda, or a pilot trying to land a crashing plane after geese fly into its engines — examples McChrystal used to illustrate his point — but they can mean life or death for an organization with slow-to-respond leaders or employees who are uninterested or unable to adapt to change in the marketplace.
McChrystal talked about how organizational size no longer offers the same level of protection it once did for companies that resist change. He said it’s a leader’s job to ensure adaptive abilities are organic, baked into an organization, so that people are empowered, feel a sense of ownership and are self-motivated to take more care when executing on different, new objectives.
From his perspective — and likely from any company that truly operates under the mantle that change is the way to survive in a global marketplace where the speed of business is growing apace with the rapid changes happening in technology — flexibility can literally be a life-saver.
Not motivated by such dire circumstances — ASTD reported growing revenue and membership numbers for last year — the organization did announce a huge new change/development. It will now be called ATD, the Association for Talent Development.
President and CEO Tony Bingham said the change was two years in the making, a fraught two years as the organization’s leaders wondered if they were making the right move and hoped with fingers and toes crossed that no one would pre-empt them and take the name before they could announce the change.
Bingham said the move is motivated by a keen desire to ensure the organization’s continued relevance and value in an industry that requires regular infusions of change to evolve and continue to meet learning leaders’ professional needs. During the next year, the organization will launch a rebranding and messaging campaign to communicate the change globally. One of the first recipients for the new name and logo likely will be the organization’s new facility in Shanghai, its first global outpost, scheduled to open by the end of the year.
Change is good. It can be uncomfortable, strange, and people may fight against it. But it is necessary. Organizations and the leaders who run them don’t really have a choice about whether to engage in change management. It’s a sure thing, unless you don’t mind coming down on the wrong end of the live or die equation, competitively speaking, of course.