Change Management in 6 (Hundred) Simple Steps

Change Management in 6 (Hundred) Simple Steps

You don’t have to be a creature of habit to recognize why an entire consulting industry has sprung up to hold business owners’ hands through the unsettling business of change. Changing over a float glass line is child’s play compared to the process of business change management.

Fortunately, having been through more than a few new chapters in a long history with Vetrotech Saint-Gobain, I’ve learned something about ensuring business continuity during change. As a matter of fact, I have created my own scale to help other glass industry professionals navigate the changes their futures might hold. Forget what you learned from the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle. The Kubler-Ross Change Curve can move over. Below, I present the Norcross Stages of Glass Business Change Management.

Stage 1: So, What’s the Problem?

This is when you recognize that there might be a way to do something better, build something better or maybe just get ahead of where you see the world heading. Simple enough, right? We see this all the time. In the glass industry, we’ve stepped up to the need for more efficient products, sustainable production methods and shorter lead times in various creative ways.

The challenge here isn’t just the risk that comes with change. It’s being willing to see the changes taking place in the world around you, in the economy, in the industry and in consumer and workforce demand.

Vetrotech started with a big idea, to make a safer fire-rated glass. While it’s easy to stop there with the success of that first big idea, plenty more problems are waiting to be solved. For example, we’ve been exploring steps to better serve our customers and be more environmentally responsible producers. Some might say don’t take on all these big problems at once, but where’s the fun in that?

Stage 2: How Do We Make It Happen?

Once you have a direction, you need a plan for how to get there. Here you start to tinker around in research and development or toss ideas to shorten lead times or lower costs. You start getting an inkling that moving corporate headquarters might enable you to leverage economies of scale, build stronger partnerships and better serve our customers. Or that even your most time-honored product can be made even better.

During this step, you might also get hints of pushback from your team, employees or the industry at large. You have to start considering all the forces that risk derailing progress. This is where you get into the real meat of change management with the next stage.

Stage 3: Laying the Groundwork

There are many ways in which you have to pave the way for change, and every single one of them comes down to people. Without this essential step, your big idea will go the way of New Coke and the Ford Edsel.

For example, we’ve been laying the groundwork for our move to Minnesota by connecting with customers to ensure they don’t feel any negative impact on service or lead times during the brief time it takes to shut down one line and launch another. We’ve been helping our sales team understand how our forthcoming new product will help customers achieve their design and sustainability goals better. We’ve also been connecting with all employees to support moves to the new location and help prepare those employees impacted.

In each of these connections, we’ve found opportunities. For example, these tough discussions with our workforce have created opportunities to really drill down into people’s strengths and get to know individuals better. Through these discussions, we’ve helped a number of employees create new opportunities as part of Vetrotech’s next chapter in Minnesota. Through this groundwork, we’re helping build greater excitement about the value of change.

Step 4: Innovation!

This is the fun part. You bring your idea to life and wait for everyone to recognize its size. Of course, it’s also the briefest stage of change management because right after you release your new idea into the world, you start facing consequences. Maybe the cost is too high to drive demand. Or demand is so great that the idea is almost immediately imitated. Or too many people remain reluctant to recognize the risk they face by doing things the same way they have always done. This leads me to the most frustrating if not most important, stage of change…

Stage 5: What Just Happened Here?

It’s hard to get things right the first time, whether it’s a new product or company culture. There’s a risk that things don’t turn out as expected. So, after your big idea lands, taking stock of where things stand is important. What needs to be reevaluated? What can be improved or changed better to serve the needs of the company or the customer?

The biggest challenge at this stage is pushing forward because this part of the process can be discouraging. Moving forward requires you to believe in your big idea’s ability to make a difference.

There’s no question that once our new North American Glass Campus launches production, there will be minor hiccups as staff settles into a new way of doing things. Luckily, we’ve launched big ideas before. For example, we watched it take decades for wire-free fire-rated glass to replace dangerous wired alternatives fully. Today that seems unthinkable.

Stage 6: Integration and Evolution

Eventually, you get to a point where you can’t remember another way of doing things. Half of our team here at Vetrotech can’t remember when you couldn’t check your email on a phone, while some of us still remember muddling along with our first BlackBerry. Still, it’s important we don’t take big ideas for granted just because we’ve gotten used to them. They provide hints on moving forward through the next evolution and powerful reminders that even the best ideas may hit resistance.

Just Another Change Cycle

If the Norcross Glass Business Change Curve seems a little familiar to you, I suppose there’s a small chance that you’ve seen these elements under different names. That’s because we’re all trying to find a reliable formula to guide us through the tricky business of innovation. It’s tough to be the first one out the gate trying something–but I tell you what, it’s much better than being the last one.

3 Comments

August 21, 2023

Peter Worstell

Kevin, well done and very insightful. You apply a real common sense approach to “business change” and a roadmap worthy of absorbing. Thank you.

September 4, 2023

Mancub Smith

Very well said Kevin! Communication, Dedication, Focus, and the journey of building a Solid TEAM . There are many challenges that come into play when starting up a New plant and there is a significant learning curve that we will All have to go through. I am very proud to have this opportunity to help out VETROTECH dream come Alive and look forward to learning with All of the challenges that we will see. We are building a great future for everyone and With Hard work, Pride in what we do we will all succeed together!

September 11, 2023

Jennifer Vorberger

Well done Kevin! Thank you for your insight on Change Management.

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