Change is such a popular word. If you Google it, you will see that there are over five places, two music bands, twenty five songs and ten music albums that go by that name. But change as a process; the transformational process is more popular in words than in deeds.
Nonetheless, this is the change time of the year. This is the time when, promises of positive change, popularly known as resolutions are made. When each of us has promise herself/ himself to do this or that differently; lose weight, work harder, stop drinking, save more to buy a car or a house et cetera. Corporate and government executives are also planning changes that will make the more profitable.
Most of us are unable to keep the resolutions for three days in a row, leave alone the whole three sixty five. So, is change such a super idea? Should we always change? Yes, for even the process of growth/ development is itself both a change as well as a product of change.
Trouble is that, for a lot of us, as we embrace change, we go about it kichwa kichwa (fulsome, without much thought). Mostly, we do it to be trendy, to be like some other people or because it is the new fashionable thing in the community, local or international.
For example, remember just over year ago every young (and not so young) lady in Kigali went for woven dreadlocks?
Governments we once told to sell off parastatals to improve efficiency. This was true with regard to poorly managed institutions that were guzzling public funds in their inefficiency.
The problem is that it became case of ‘when it rains it pours’. There was a privatization frenzy in the ‘90’s. It led former Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere to complain to the effect that when we are told that we need to change in order to improve, we rush to change everything, even the aspects that were doing fine. Two decades later, we are yet to see the fruits of this privatization in most African countries.
This points, therefore, to the absolute necessity of change management. There are definitely merits of change. It enables us to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things. It ‘opens up’ the individual and/or the organization for growth. It also enables us to effectively address matters that have been holding us back.
The first thing to be interrogated should be the objective of the change. What is it that you seek to achieve? This sounds selfish but the change must be about you. It must be primarily in your best interest or the best interest of your organization and you must know what that is, in specific terms.
Secondly, you must assess why the current circumstances will not lead to the desired objectives. Are there aspects that should be retained? It is improbable that a system that has brought you this far would be all wrong. May be all you need is to tweak it a little?
Third, what is it that you need to do specifically to achieve the goal? How long do reckon it will take? What are the alternatives? Do you have a plan B should this not work?
Fourth; once you start doing things differently there are going to be consequences. How are you going to deal with them to ensure things are smooth sailing?
The French say ‘plus ça change, plus ça reste la même’- That the more things change, the more they remain the same. Perhaps it is because we do not look at change wholesomely and in a sustainable way that each year we make and break the same resolutions and ensure that things stay the same.
Sam Kebongo teaches entrepreneurship at Rwanda Tourism University College. He also is a Director at Serian Ltd that provides skills and business advisory services consultancy.