The quote “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste” is credited to Paul Romer, an American economist and professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, in regards to his concern about the lack of resolve to improve educational standards across the US. In his view this crisis, and others like it, can be seen as a necessary and positive catalytic force behind creating real and lasting changes.
The Chinese concept commonly known as yin-yang describes the belief that opposite, or contrary forces, are in fact interconnected and must co-exist. You can’t have the good without knowing the bad; a real opportunity for change comes from a pivotal turning point – a crisis or challenge we must address.
As someone who is interested in and follows martial arts, I have always been fascinated by the calmness, confidence, and composure needed to control what can be an aggressive art form. It truly illustrates yin-yang, how we can gain peace of mind by mastering the turbulent physical side of our nature. So, maybe there is something to this!
We have all seen on the news, or know from personal experience, when a natural disaster hits people reach deep and rally to rebuild and move on. Relationships form, bonds get stronger, and the will to succeed grows by leaps and bounds. The same can occur in business if you rally the troops towards a common goal, and change your mindset from crisis mode to one geared toward opportunity and improvement.
But do we really need to wait until a crisis happens before we take action? Is that the only way to effect real and lasting change, or is there a better and more effective way? Many environmentalists argue that our lack of resolve to change our current actions and way of thinking, until we reach a critical “melting point,” is the wrong approach to take. At that point it may simply be too late and any opportunity for real change lost.
Serious athletes, like the Olympians who recently competed in Sochi, Russia, put their bodies under extreme stress each day to gain better performance down the line. What appears to be negative stress on their bodies during training produces amazing results that few can achieve. They invest in their futures by taking the actions needed to reach their long term goals, regardless of the difficultly.
Businesses can also benefit from this kind of foresight. In the global, fast-paced, and highly competitive business world we live in today, change is both a constant threat and our biggest opportunity. Having the knowledge, vision, and will to act in advance of a pending crisis is the key to creating a long term competitive advantage.
Regardless of how change comes about, planned or unplanned, how well it’s managed always affects the outcome. Perceiving a situation as an opportunity and approaching it with a positive, long term solution, rather than viewing it as a crisis and reacting with the typical short term quick-fix approach, can be the difference between longevity and failure. Using a Change Management approach is systematic to addressing your challenges head on and maximizing your opportunities. Change is a good thing!