Steps to success

MICRO, small and medium-sized enterprises are the engine of the European economy.

And while Fiji is clearly much smaller than the European economy, the same tenet rings true for a country that is rapidly assuming a key business, entrepreneurial and academic hub of the Pacific.

FNU acting vice-chancellor Professor Ian Rouse said there was evidence of SMEs and creative energy everywhere one looked in Fiji.

He said he continued to be impressed with the opportunities in every field of endeavour, including those recognised at the Fiji Development Bank’s small and medium enterprises awards this year.

“According to Gunther Verheugen, a member of the European Commission responsible for enterprise and industry, SMEs are an essential source of jobs in the European economy,” he said.

“SMEs create entrepreneurial spirit and innovation in the EU and are crucial for fostering competitiveness and employment.”

As a key Fijian university, he said, FNU had a significant part to play in encouraging young people to study hard and to graduate as career ready and passionate future workers, and employers in business, health, engineering, manufacturing, education and agriculture.

“A world of great opportunity is palpable here in Fiji for everyone,” he said.

Steps to success

While this year’s FDB small and medium enterprises awards is centered on the theme “Courage, the Sure Step to Success”, Prof Rouse said being courageous wasn’t about pretending that bad things did not happen or that risks were all in the head.

“It is about choosing to lay our vulnerability on the line for something greater than our pride — risking failure and rejecting in order to pursue our greatest aspirations and create more truthful and meaningful lives,” he said.

“It begins by getting clear about what it is that you most want — in your work or business, relationships and life — and then identifying fears that may inadvertently be holding you back from having it.”

Quoting Michelangelo, Prof Rouse said, the greater danger for most people lay not in setting their aim too high and falling short, but in setting their aim too low and achieving their mark.

“Most of us are too afraid to dream big because as soon as we do, it creates a large gap we fear we’ll never close.

“I recently found on the internet the claim that successful people are full of crap. Rachel Luna, an international success coach and owner of TheTailorMadeLife.com claimed that many of us believe successful people are inherently ‘different’. Rachel’s road to fulfilment convinced her otherwise — they were full of ‘CRAP’.

“Courage, resilience, authenticity and perseverance — CRAP.”

He said there were many theories about making change in organisations and many originated with leading change expert John Kotter.

A professor at Harvard Business School and world-renowned change expert, Mr Kotter introduced his eight-step change process in his 1995 book, “Leading Change”.

Prof Rouse said the book was one of his favourite management books for its simplicity and clarity.

“John Kotter summarised the impediments to making a change in organisations and then how to overcome them,” he said.

Eight-step change process

According to Prof Rouse, Mr Kotter’s eight-steps were easy to understand.

n Step 1 — Create a sense of urgency or opportunity.

For change to happen, it helps if the whole company really wants it. Develop a sense of urgency around the need for change. This may help spark the initial motivation to get things moving.

* Step 2 — Form a powerful coalition.

To lead change, you need to bring together a coalition or team of influential people whose power comes from a variety of sources including job title, status, expertise, and political importance. Once formed, the change coalition needs to work as a team, continuing to build urgency and momentum around the need for change.

* Step 3 — Create a vision for change.

A clear vision can help everyone understand why you’re asking them to do something. When people see for themselves what you’re trying to achieve then the directives they’ve given tend to make more sense.

* Step 4 — Communicate the vision.

What you do with your vision after you create it will determine your success. Your message will probably have strong competition from other day-to-day communications within the company. So you need to communicate what you want to do. It’s important to walk the talk. What you do is far more important and believable than what you say. Demonstrate the kind of behaviour that you want from others.

* Step 5 — Remove obstacles.

If you follow those steps and reach this point in the chance process, you’ve been talking about your vision and building staff buy-in from all levels of the organisation. Put in place the structure for change and continually check for barriers to it. Removing obstacles can empower the people you need to execute your vision, and it can help the change move forward.

* Step 6 — Create short-term wins.

Nothing motivates more than success. Give your company a taste of victory early in the change process. Within a short timeframe, you’ll want to have some quick wins that your staff can see. Without this, critics and negative thinkers might hurt your progress.

* Step 7 — Build on the change.

Mr Kotter argues that many change projects failed because victory was declared too early. Real change runs deep. Quick wins are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change. Each success provides an opportunity to build on what went right and identify what you can improve on.

* Step 8 — Anchor the changes in corporate culture.

To make any change stick, Prof Rouse said it should become part of the core of the organisation. He said their corporate culture often determined what gets done so the values behind their vision must show in day-to-day work.

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