The Times, They are a Changing


“If we don’t lead change, change will be imposed on us.” – Thanasis Molokotos

I find these words so powerful. Change is hard and it’s not easy either. It is inevitable though.

Don’t get me wrong, constantly changing just for the sake of change doesn’t make sense.  If something works well then there is no need to change, or is there?  So, how do you determine the difference between what works well and what needs to change?  In business, understanding change can be the difference between survival and extinction.

History gives us a plethora of examples from which we can learn.  Let’s start with the Pony Express.  During its time it was innovative.  Workers were the envy of all who craved excitement, danger and swiftness. Messages were delivered with unheard of speed.  Riders covered 250 miles in a 24 hour period.[1] The service only lasted a short 19 months though because of the advent of the telegraph.  The telegraph sent its first message 16 years earlier than the first Pony Express ride, but many doubted its capabilities. Maybe their SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis discounted the possibility of such change.  Messages sent via telegraph could be received in minutes instead of days, and for a much lower cost. The telegraph changed the way the world communicated.

As cool as it was, the telegraph didn’t last either.  It was replaced by the telephone and fax machine, which was replaced by the internet, email, pdf scans and e-signing capability. At one time Ma Bell was so large the Department of Justice filed an anti-trust suit. Today, with cellular service and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) land-lines are almost obsolete.

My point?  Change happens.  As difficult as it may be change happens every day; even if we don’t want it.  It is far better to take charge and shape that change than to sit back and let it shape you or your business. Like our example, communication continues to evolve. Granted, in government change may not happen as quickly and there are far more regulations.  We have to worry about public information requests necessitating the need for archiving every text, email and social media post. Even so, these extra steps shouldn’t to stop us from evolving, doing business or communicating in the most efficient and effective way.

Here are 3 things you can do today to keep up with change:

  1.  Make sure policies keep pace with technology.  We all know that policies and procedures should be reviewed at least once a year, but we all also know this doesn’t always happen.  Outdated policies are often a road block to efficiency and cost money. If communication has evolved to texting and there is an organization wide no texting policy, then work stalls and delays equal lost costs.  A texted picture is worth a thousand emails. A picture can save time and costs from going to a job site to get a visual on a problem which could be addressed in 5 minutes instead of 5 hours.

2.  Be realistic.  Setting a policy that everyone must spend an hour a day renaming and archiving emails may be a noble and lofty goal, but the reality is that most people just won’t do it.  Some may just stop emailing altogether.  Another loss to efficiency and a blow to the budget.

3.  Keep current.  Outdated technology infrastructure could be the biggest bottleneck in your efforts to keep up with technology and the latest communication methods. Operating systems and software change faster than the Pony Express.  It is important to keep a firm footing in the compatibility with the ‘rest of the world’ arena.  Imagine using dialup in a blazing fast fiber optic world.

What roadblocks or bottlenecks are affecting change in your world?


Wendy Dutenhoeffer is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Katarina Hong

It’s so true that change is inevitable and we just have to accept it. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips to keep up with change!

Sonia Chakrabarty

Thanks for sharing this post! I was wondering if you had any advice for how to avoid new technology updates that seem promising but actually end up fizzling out quickly. Is it just trial and error or do you recommend waiting for a bit to see how a trend plays out?