Change - compass to new directionA good friend and associate of mine, Stacy Goff, has been saying for years that project managers are agents of change.  I’ve always believed this was true, however as I’ve begun my journey down the execution “rabbit hole” it has become even clearer.

Think about it.  Why do you do a project?  You do it to change something.

It may be to fix something that’s broken.  It may be to implement new computer software that will make you more productive.  Maybe it’s to go after a new market or to expand an existing one.

In all these cases, you are changing the status quo. And you’re using a project as the vehicle to implement the change.

That being said, then project managers ARE change agents!  But, that means that a good project manager or even a business owner executing on his/her strategy must be open to changing themselves!

This may seem like a given. But, more time than I care to admit, when talk with a business owner with a stagnant business the reason they’re not moving forward is they don’t think that they need to make a change in themselves to achieve their desired outcome.

Think about this.  Even if you are expanding something that you’re currently doing, it’s still something different.  If you don’t make the shift necessary you won’t get the results you want!

Good examples are companies using print media and the yellow pages to generate leads.  As these owners’ market started to use different mediums, like online directories and Internet marketing to find these services or products leads began to decline. The companies that didn’t shift to the new mediums died.  The ones that did survived and probably saw increases spending less in the process.

Let’s look at a company that wants to go to the next level or maybe hit the self-sustainability stage of the growth model.  It requires more people, more capital, more coordination, more space and equipment, more, more, more…  If an owner has never managed something like this, the likelihood that they lack the needed leadership and management skills are high.  If they don’t acquire the skills what happens to their business?  You’ve probably seen it happen hundreds of times – the business stagnates and just stays the same size year after year after year.

Here is a perfect example where change needs to occur.  But, what often happens is the business owner has had some level of success in their life by accident; not because tehy acquired the neeed skills to replicate that success.  Their ego gets in the way and they resist making the necessary change because they think they already have the skill so they’ll be successful!

I agree that THEY are successful.  However, their business has not yet reached the self-sustainability stage.  As a result, the business becomes more of a job than a business as the value comes from the owner’s actions instead of a part of the business’ operational systems.

So, what’s the project for change here?  Actually, there are dozens of projects that need to be competed to make this transaction.  But, the first one is making the owner understand that he/she needs to change themselves through gaining greater self-knowledge of themselves and their gaining greater knowledge about how their business operates, or it will never become what it can become.

So you see CHANGE is critical.  And, we use projects as the action mechanism to create change.  The first project for change in most small businesses is the owner, who needs to work on themselves to acquire the needed skills to manage and lead at that next level.

Have you seen this happen before?  Share your examples, as they are more common than you may think.  If we can get one owner to see the change they need to make in themselves it’s worth the effort as all the employees of a company are affected by the owners in ability to change.  If you help one owner, the impact is far reaching so share your stories.