EP – 7 Interview with Dr Steve Barlow – Change Flexibility

Organisations that can’t change are at significant risk of disruption. How ready is your team and your culture to change, how change fit or change flexible are they. One off change is not good enough, in this episode I speak with Dr Steve Barlow on how organisations can harness change and make their teams energised and ready for change. https://www.thechangegym.com/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/coachtrainer/


Hello, and welcome to the business octopus where we talk about all things sales, marketing and technology. I am Avon, Collis CRM and marketing automation specialist at relevant and all around good guy. Today I am joined by the wonderful Dr. Steve Barlow from the change gym, here to talk about how businesses need to develop the flexibility to change. So welcome, Steve, how are you today?

I’m very well. Thanks,

Ivan. Thanks for having me on your show.

No worries at all. And you know, like, before we got on to the to the session, we sort of talked about how crazy the technology is changing. It’s such an incredible pace. And you know, there’s talk of, you know, Elon Musk saying universal basic income for everybody, because no one’s gonna have jobs due to AI. You know, there’s a number of opinions about where that it’s all going. But whilst we get to where we’re going, we’re still having to cope with tons and tons of change. And, and I guess what I want to ask is, how important is change?

Well, I mean, change is really important. We’ve we’ve always had change in society. But of course we all know that it’s it’s ramping up. It’s getting, it’s getting faster, there’s there’s more opportunities for new things to happen, as the world is globalized. And as computer computerization sort of improves and increases its power. And I mean, this is only going to continue to happen. So we’ve got to get used to it. And it does afford us a lot of opportunities to do things in better ways to reach out. I mean, even what we’re doing here today was would not have been possible a few years ago. So you know, it opens up the world to us to be able to expand and to have more influence to more people. But it also brings with it some problems for us. And these are things that we need to address, we we can’t be like an ostrich and sort of shove our head in the sand and pretend that these things don’t exist. They do exist, and they affect everybody. And so if we want to make our businesses sustainable, if we want to make our lives sustainable in the long run, we need to have a strategy to address change and the impact that it has upon our lives upon our businesses. And upon our world.

It’s really accelerated like over the last few years, you know, I sort of got my wife come home with a VHS tape of when she did film and television studies at uni and wanted to keep the videos and I looked at him like, Man, this old technology and judge even just to like get the like, she would have had to film it, save it onto the thing. But then to transfer the file, she has to go and drive somewhere or post it and that would take days or weeks. Right? Now you want to get something from Netflix within two clicks in about 18 seconds, you’re gonna have a very high definition data file. So it’s accelerating at a very rapid rate.

It’s, it is accelerating. And it’s it’s hard to sort of remember what it was like back then in the world before we had the internet before we had cable. Before we had zoom, a post a letter. But you know, I mean, the fact of the matter is that probably in 20 years time people will look back at where we are right now and think Gosh, it’s hard to imagine that the world was ever like that.

Yeah, yeah. I

mean, it’s it’s it’s not it’s not only it’s not only increasing, its increasing and its pace. Yeah. Yes. The web thing created

my site, my daughter said, What do we call it hang up the phone. That’s a case in point of the times and you know, you go into like daycare and candy gyms, kindergarten, and they’re trying to turn the pages of a book by swiping their finger across what is otherwise a screen with. So with such a rapid pace, like I’m seeing this in, in, you know, in my kids and myself, how do businesses deal with the rapid rate of change?

Well, it’s a challenge, isn’t it? It’s a challenge to keep up. It’s a challenge to stay current. And it’s it’s unrelenting. It’s not so much that each little step and each little adjustment along the way is a big step. I mean, sometimes they are a big leap to get to the next level. But a lot of the times these things are kind of incremental. But it’s it’s the fact that it’s never ending incremental change. And sometimes it’s sort of rapid, transformational kind of change that we have to adapt to. We’ve we’ve all experienced the rapid transformational change through through the COVID experience. And, and that’s, that’s pushed people, you know, out of their comfort zones and, and it’s opened up wonderful new opportunities. And there are good things that have come out of it that will stay with us, you know, into the future. But it all comes at a price and the price is of people’s emotions. People’s people get weary of it, they get overwhelmed by it. It’s it’s hard to sustain long term. And and that’s, that’s the problem. So it’s great in a lot of ways. But it comes at a cost. Hmm. And the thing is that if human beings are up for the cost, it just drives the whole agenda to bring AI into it and get rid of the human beings all together.

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I think a lot of people get a little bit frustrated when I say you get a phone update, and then the button moves. And you’re like, Oh, I just got used to where that was. And there’s a lot of little micro frustrations about that. And I think it’s human nature to try and automate things, you know, you automate decisions in the morning, right, you move house, you start going down the same streets and things to go back to the old place, because you’ve automated the thinking process. Right, while you’re doing other tasks. Right. Right. And, and, you know, I think that as far as the the micro pain, obviously, you know, a big changes is very different. But, you know, for me, I would say, is it? Is it better to have a lot of little changes, and have people get used to that? Or is that? You know, is that? How much is that? Can you go too far down that path? Like how much is is a good thing?

Well, lucky, I mean, the changes are gonna happen, whether we want them to happen or not. We can’t stop them from happening. The better idea is to get good at change. Yeah. Now, you know, the fact of the matter is that a lot of people are not very good at change, they, they don’t like change, we have to put up with it. But it’s stressful. And some part some people find change, challenging, they find change, I mean, challenging in a positive way. They like it. Yeah, they, they get bored with things, if they don’t change, and they, they’re there, they’re up for change, they like it. But those people are not most people. Most people would rather things not change so much. They used to doing it, they used to that button being there. And they, they they want it to be there the whole time, because they’re familiar with it. Little changes like that can be causes of frustration, they can contribute to our sense of being overwhelmed by our place in the world. So So really, a better idea is to get good at change. Yeah.

I think you know, the one of the people, one of the businesses Great example, where change didn’t work out so well, was his Kodak. I guess it’s one of the pretty stock standard cases when you’re doing any conceptual theory work, but, you know, they they go away making good money from from film and printing, printing those things. And you know, you go to the chemist to get your photos produced and all that sort of stuff. And this little digital camera, one of their own team produced the digital camera diode that allowed them to make a storage on a file. And I will never get off the ground. We’re making too much money out of here. We don’t want to change.

Yeah, that’s right. So there is a kind of a fixed thinking, you know, people, people get fixed in their way of thinking about things. And they think that the way it’s been is the way it’s always going to be. And this is the way I do things. This is how I operate. This is what happens. Hmm. But you know, when the world is changing, we might not have much say in what happens.


So we need to be the ones that are flexible, we need to be the ones that can see the changes and can adapt and adapt readily. Yeah. Now, that same digital camera, you know, phenomenon, which is sort of old history now. But that created opportunities for a lot of people who were able to see what was happening.

So how does a business position themselves to take advantage of these changes? Well, I

think there are two things that need to happen and these two things need to happen really at the same time, more or less. And one of those things look, I guess the To set the stage here, we’re talking about people. It’s not the AI, it’s not the computers, it’s not the technology that that that has a problem with change, technology will change, because people will change it. And the technology will never complain. film cameras don’t care if they get thrown in the bin and don’t get used anymore. They don’t care if they get replaced by a digital camera. It’s human beings that care when things change, when that button moves from one part of the screen to another, we get frustrated by that. So it’s human beings that need to be the ones that learn how to adapt. And there are there are two aspects of that. One is that we need to, we need to change the software, if you like the programming inside of our heads. So that we get better at handling change, we get more adaptable in the way we think more flexible in our thinking, and not just what we think but how we think. And the other thing is that we need to get more flexible in the way we do business in the way our business operates. And when you get those two things happening together, it’s like clearing all the obstacles out of the way, and getting a clear run on the changes that we need to make. If we don’t do that, we get so much clutter. Yeah, roadway gets blocked, and we can’t make we can’t move forward. And that’s how you get left behind. Yeah, I

think, you know, to put it in, I guess in a context that I can sort of repeat that back to you in show my understanding. When you’ve got something like you, you create a process and you’ve got you only kind of like a confirmation bias. So you keep doing that same thing, and you only seek to, to do it that same way without having knowledge of what the alternatives are and looking at what’s the greatest version that could be and you know, what are the pros and cons and then making a bit of an empirical assessment on the improved process. I think, you know, knowing that there are other other ways of doing it, so process a fails, then you’ve got process B as a backup, and you’ve kind of like battle tested it in your mind, and you’ve gone through how that could potentially come about it where some people just go, I found a way I can’t be bothered finding any other way. I’m just gonna do that. And they get stuck on that. And then something changes. And they fall over.

figuratively. Yeah. So So I mean, as technology change as the world changes, as the economic system changes, as politics changes, all of these things are changing all the time. But we also need to change, we need to change just to keep up. Yes. If we don’t change, we don’t stay put we go backwards. Yes. So we need to be flexible in how we think we need to be flexible and how we do business, just to stay put just to keep up. Yeah, if we want to get ahead, we got to change even faster than what everything else is changing. And some businesses are able to do that. Yeah, some businesses are able to do that. And others. If you can’t do that, you’re just gonna get left behind. And there’s nothing you can really, you know, it’s just the way it works.

So what would be a bit of advice that you would give to a business leader that wants to, you know, get on top of, you know, keeping, getting on top of the every day, but also, you know, taking advantage and going the next step?

Okay, so I mean, we have to have a growth mindset, we have to think about ourselves. I mean, as business leaders, we need to be the ones that are growing, we need to be the ones that are moving ahead. What worked in the past may be fine, it might still work for some time, it might might work forever, but the world is changing, and we need to change with it. So we need to grow. If we don’t grow, we’re going to get left behind. So we need to have a growth mindset. And and we need to we need to get good at dealing with change, we need to be able to master it ourselves. And that means we need to have more change fitness, which is the area that I know a fair bit about. So it we we need to invest in ourselves. And the other thing we need to do is to make sure that our business, our culture, our processes, all the change readiness factors that go on inside our businesses, that they’re working properly. We don’t we don’t want to create roadblocks in our businesses, when we when they don’t need to be there. Yeah. So it’s freeing up the space so that we can move forward. And we need to take responsibility for that.

Fantastic. Well, thank you very much for your time here today, Steve, it’s great hearing from you and you know some very great sage advice for for business leaders everywhere. Thanks for having me.

And I hope it helps.

No worries at all. So if you’re listening and you’d like to know more about Dr. Steve Barlow and change flexibility, then you can go to the change gym.com and you can find out more get in touch with Steve direct. Now if you also like we’ll put the link and to the website and to Steve’s LinkedIn profile in the comments of this episode. Otherwise, thank you for listening to the business octopus. If you have any questions or you’d like to be on the show, you can go to https://relevate.com.au you and fill out the contact form there. Otherwise, thank you for listening and take care