Change – the psychology of crossing the chasm

Adapting to a change in a business model has many hurdles. Mentally preparing to do it might be the biggest hurdle of them all.

Change. It is a word that elicits both excitement and fear. Whether it is regulations from a new administration, a company reorganization, implementing new technology, or a new business model, it impacts your business. How you cross the chasm from where you are to where you want to be says a lot about your leadership.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”Andy Warhol

The Coronavirus has forced many businesses to the edge of change. Whether they wanted to or not. But, what is involved in the actual process of changing? How can you be better prepared to make changes to your business model, especially in the Life Sciences where it is often slow and methodical. What is the best way to establish formal governance roles and responsibilities? How can you achieve the organization’s vision with clear escalation paths? These are all excellent questions.

Other industries can be good indicators change is coming.

Other industries can be a great indicator of changes on the horizon. For example, during the pandemic, businesses were forced to either allow people to telework or navigate the various government shutdowns. According to a recent Gallup study, the number of people teleworking ballooned from a scant 3.4% before COVID to roughly 44% once the pandemic hit and government restrictions set in.  And, that was a fairly simple decision. The pandemic demanded the subject be addressed. However, those same businesses face the more daunting task of deciding how to move forward as the country and the world adjust to life after the pandemic.

How other industries proceed with their workforce impacts Life Sciences. They will dictate the new “social norm.” This new norm impacts everything from the flow of money to the size and shape of the hiring pool. Some leaders already announced plans to go back to 100% on-site work, while others are considering permanent teleworking plans. How these all pan out dictate the future for all industries.

“Digital disruption has reached the healthcare sector, and with it comes an imperative for life-science companies to retool core technology to remain competitive.”  McKinsey & Company, “The technology imperative for life sciences” January 30, 2020

Technology is business’ driving force.

Let’s be honest. Technology has been steering us for some time now. Since the invention of the internet, the dilemma we now face was inevitable. Disruptive events such as new regulatory requirements, competition, declining margins, or a pandemic can be mitigated with technology. Furthermore, technology allows people to virtually work from anywhere in so many fields. The flexibility of your QMS compresses both the speed at which you can react to these changing circumstances as well as the effectiveness of your reaction. Technology can connect your ecosystem’s silos and predict coming events based on secure and relevant data. In fact a study, done by VMWare, found that 87% of CIOs believe digitally empowering their employees can drive at least 5% additional revenue growth over three years.

A cloud-based QMS should have AI capabilities. Because AI allows your QMS to make recommendations about navigating the landscape and avoiding pitfalls it sees down the road. Specifically, technology augments the power of your entire team. It allows them to work more efficiently. And, they become more capable of handling sudden changes. Surprisingly, these technologies are not just for the big guys. Companies of all sizes can use these technologies as there are a wide range of pricing options.

Internal communication is the lifeline.

How your team communicates makes all the difference. This doesn’t just mean the C-level people knowing what is going on, it involves the people on the front line and the shop floor  too. Does your quality team know what the research team is doing? How do the IT team and the regulatory compliance team communicate? Does middle management understand C-Level decisions and how it will impact team members beneath them? How do all of these connections impact the manufacturing process? Research done by Willis Towers Watson suggests that only 68% of senior managers understand the reasons behind major changes in an organization. That number decreases to 53% of middle managers. And, it drops even further to just 40% of front line management.

In times of change communication will keep everyone on the same page. A lack of communication can unravel a company in a heartbeat. In Life Sciences, communication is one of the core tenets of Quality 4.0. It ensures a system is in place to encourage and facilitate communication across all levels of an organization. With this in mind, communication helps limit the mental stigma that comes with a shift in company direction. Therefore, you should communicate early and often. You will set expectations and more easily avoiding resistance.

Change is a multi-faceted concept for everyone involved.

Change impacts everyone differently. So, when preparing for it you need to consider a range of things in order to optimize the transition. Addressing these core issues should make the transition and stress associated with it easier.

Big Picture: What is driving the change from a world view perspective? How does your company fit into that view? Do you have adequate involvement from stakeholders?

Specific: What aspects of your business are changing? Is something broken? Has a new technology developed that will improve the workflow? How will the change impact individual day to day workflow? How does the technology affect regulatory compliance?

Emotional: What company values are driving the change? How will it impact employees and their needs? And of course, open the floor for discussion.

Logical: What drove you to this specific decision? Were there any alternatives? What are the pros you see as well as the cons? Are employee roles aligned correctly?And, again, open the floor to discussion.

Reactions: Know not everyone will agree with your decision. There will be people who think an alternate route should have been taken or that no change is required. People are generally resistant to change and you need to be open to that concept. So, be prepared to answer questions and address concerns as best you can.

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.”― Libba Bray

Always remember change is a Journey.

In the end, the most important thing to remember is change takes time, but requires a well prepared plan for change management. And, with all aspects of the life science industry growing (even venture capital funding is increasing with a record $17.8 billion invested in the second Quarter alone in 2020) changes are already happening.

Best Practices Core QMS Quality 4.0