How to Leverage Change in Your Business

(Episode 1 of 2 with Jake Jacobs)

How to Leverage Change in Your Business
Jake Jacobs helps organizations, teams, and individuals make monumental changes. Over the past 35 years, he has worked in 61 industries and has consulted 96 organizations, from Fortune 50 to national non-profits and community theaters. 

He is also the author of Leverage Change: 8 Ways to Achieve Faster, Easier, Better Results and has supported more than 210,000 people directly on important changes to their business. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss three ways we can leverage change to achieve faster, easier, and better results. 

Key Takeaways

Here are today’s key takeaways:

  1. Applying change to our businesses will lead to faster, easier, and better results.
  2. When we make changes, we should pay attention to continuity by also focusing on what stays the same. 
  3. We shouldn’t decree change. We should give our employees and team members a say in what the changes are. 
  4. To help facilitate change, we should have accountability and support partners. 
  5. If we can start to make small, daily changes, it will likely have a ripple effect. 

Overcoming the Challenges of Change

Applying change to our businesses will lead to faster, easier, and better results. Just as Archemedis said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world,” Jake believes that people can move their worlds by leveraging change. 

“With levers, you can get more done with fewer hassles, headaches, and problems, and in many cases, more done with fewer resources,” Jake said. “I’m talking [about] people, time, and money, because you’re not spinning your wheels. What you get is a very effective effort and you start moving very quickly into whatever the future is that you design and define.”

Making changes in our businesses help us gain a competitive advantage over others in our industry. This is why I focus so much on finding tectonic shifts in the marketplace. When we can quickly adapt to change, we will leapfrog our competitors. 

Some of the challenges organizations run into when trying to implement change is fatigue. Our employees and partners may feel overwhelmed, anxious, and intimidated by change, which can affect their performance. When organizations run into this problem, they usually look at two solutions: 1. They force change. 2. They implement less change. Instead, we should pay attention to continuity. We make changes while also focusing on what stays the same. 

“What you don’t change is as important as what you do change,” Jake said. “Paying attention to continuity means making a list of all those things that are going to stay the same. While we’re not going to take things away from the change pocket, . . . we’re gonna add things to continuity and balance that out.”

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When we focus on improving what we are already doing, it builds confidence and conviction, making our teams feel more comfortable with change. Another way to help our organizations adapt to change is to, “think and act as if the future is now.” This is one of the levers of change Jake discusses in his book. 

Rather than thinking about the present and future as separate, we should reach ahead, figure out where we want to be in the future, and pull it into the present. We can start acting as if we are living in the future now. 

“If you’re going to have a participative organization that’s part of your culture, then what you need to do is start participating here and now. Immediately start finding ways to be more participative. You’re not talking about getting there at the end of the year and the end of two years; you’re living that future,” Jake said. 

3 Ways to Leverage Change

Here are three ways we can leverage change in our organizations:

  1. Don’t Decree Change

One of Jake’s favorite stories in his book focuses on a man named Joe. A company had lost a monopoly position and they needed to move much faster in terms of changes, so Jake started working with them to bring the strategy and culture in sync. At a meeting, Joe, who was a union member, stood in the doorway and refused to sit down at the table. They asked him if he wanted to join them, but he said he was fine where he was. 

After the meeting, Joe came up to Jake and said, “Most of the time, when they roll things out in this company, they really roll them over us and we just get flattened along the way. But what you’re talking about is us having a hand in what these changes are and how we’re going to best make them.” 

Joe used to be very resistant to change, but it wasn’t necessarily because he didn’t want the change;it was because he felt like he didn’t have any say in it. As soon as Jake got everyone involved on the changes they were making, Joe hopped on board. 

We shouldn’t decree change. We should give our employees and team members a say in what the changes are. 

  2. Provide Support and Accountability 

To help facilitate change, we should have accountability and support partners. 

There was a retail operation in Europe that was trying to get ahead of their competitors. The CEO was always talking about change and accountability, but nobody ever seemed to listen, so he called Jake for help. So, Jake went over and started to interview their team. As he did so, he found while the CEO did a great job with accountability, he was missing a piece of the equation. 

“There’s a paradoxical approach to change. I call it uncommon wisdom in the book. When you have accountability, to make that work, you need to have an equal amount of support,” Jake said. “[You] need to have an accountability and support partner for change to occur.”

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At the company, they had never provided support. Their employees were given accountabilities, responsibilities, and tasks, but they weren’t provided any of the support they needed. However, once support was finally added, they stood a much better chance at following through with the changes. 

“Too often we forget about support, when it comes to business; most organizations are all about accountability.” Jake said. “{But] what I know from 35 years of working on the frontlines of change efforts is that you need both the accountability and support pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in order to get the right answer.”

  3. Look for Small Changes 

Jake worked with the executive team of a transit company because they were having problems with the efficiency and effectiveness of their team meetings. They got together to come up with a handful of recommendations, and one was that for every meeting, they had to have a specific purpose and outcome. They made the rule that if there wasn’t a purpose or outcome, they wouldn’t come to the meeting. 

As they did this, they started to have better meetings. They became a results oriented organization because they had a purpose and outcome for every meeting. “Because they had the purpose and outcomes for every meeting, they started to use purpose and outcomes for every project, for every conversation,” Jake said. “When you tell people the why, it makes a lot more sense to talk about the what.”

The entire organization was able to change its culture by making small changes part of their daily work. We should look for opportunities and see what changes we can make on a daily basis to improve. If we can start to make small, daily changes, it will likely have a ripple effect. 

Connect with Jake

Thank you so much Jake for sharing your stories and insights with us today. To learn more about or connect with Jake:

Next Steps

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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