In an ever-changing environment and, particularly, in the age in which we live with its frenetic momentum, society, public institutions, all sorts of organizations and companies have to keep pace with change – or even lead it.
Of all society’s institutions, it is perhaps companies which are most bound by the constant need for change. At the end of each quarter and of each year, the profit and loss account is what determines whether the business has performed well, badly or indifferently; plans are then implemented on the basis of that information. The high levels of competition in many sectors and the growing use of technology in personal and domestic life are, without doubt, important catalysts in generating decisions to instigate transformation processes.
In the case of many companies with high public exposure, and particularly those listed on the stock markets, these processes of change are viewed as factors in the success or failure of the business’s plans for the future. The issue is the sense of the extraordinary which is attributed to the changes, when in fact change should be a normal, regular occurrence. Society should get used to change in the public sphere, just as in the private – and not view it as a traumatic experience.
It often happens, for example with companies listed on the stock exchange according to the Anglo-Saxon model, that a chairman or chief executive officer is tasked with implementing a four- or five-year strategic plan; once that is achieved, along comes another one, and so on, forever. For family businesses, this can often prove a disadvantage, although it can be offset by good teamwork and by external support.
To quote the Irish dramatist and political writer George Bernard Shaw, “progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Therefore, change does not happen just once in the lifetime of an organization; it is the continuity of change over time which keeps the company alive and prospering.