“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
~ Charles Darwin
Amazon’s 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods raised eyebrows among business pundits. Jeff Bezos’ left field maneuver made sense when examining Amazon’s goal of creating return customers based on conveniently delivered consumables. Whole Foods would benefit from Amazon’s economy of scale and distribution techniques. Amazon’s stock got a shot in the arm, and the headlines faded, but how are those changes going?
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” ~ Lao Tzu
Business Insider reported in early 2018 that Whole Foods employees are having difficulties with the velocity of change the association with Amazon is bringing. The point of contention seems to center around the implementation of a centralized purchasing and a unifying inventory control system in Whole Foods stores. The report indicates that Whole Foods had utilized a regional, or in some cases, a store-level acquisition system. Associates ordered products from whichever vendor fit their local markets. Never having dealt with coordinated buying, or an amalgamated inventory system, reports are indicating that Whole Foods associates are nearing the point of revolt.
People are the critical levers to successful change … and people are different!
No matter the veracity of Business Insider’s reporting, it illustrates that leaders must gauge their teams’ tolerance for change during the planning process. Adaptation is a learned skill that leaders must cultivate if the winds of change are aloft. Half of that process is gaining critical buy-in by developing clear change goals and in illustrating the benefits of the change initiatives to associates. The second half is, regardless of the speed of change, a support network must be in place to facilitate those initiatives. Proclaiming that a new inventory system is two weeks out and merely handing out manuals just won’t cut it. Like planning the supply and logistics side of any initiative, a people plan for the velocity of change must exist. If that’s been overlooked, what could be happening at Whole Foods could be just around the corner for you as well.
Consider this …
1. What major changes are you attempting to implement within your project, business, or workplace?
2. What plans do you have in place to ensure the people responsible for those changes are brought in and ready to implement and sustain them?
3. Identify the potential “problem areas” and create a list of key actions required to mitigate those risks.
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