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neon sign changeSustain means to maintain a steady course, while change means just about the opposite. Yet sustainable change is not a contradiction. It’s part of what you need to keep your organization ready to deal with the unexpected. It would be nice to get your organization right where you want it, to have it running just the way you like, and keep it that way. Unfortunately nothing is more constant than change. Just ask any political candidate currently running for office and watching their poll numbers.

The intelligent response to the reality of constant change is to go with the flow. Not passively but ingeniously, with quick and creative responses that shape the future in favor of what you want to achieve. In order to meet change in this proactive and head-on way, all your people have to possess and embrace an intimate understanding of one set of goals that satisfies each of their deepest and most personal aspirations, while being in alignment with your organizational goals.

Sounds like a mountain of a challenge, I know. But it’s not. Humans have been dealing with this challenge since the first cave dwellers organized a hunting party. Over recent decades social scientists have studied and analyzed just what makes great leaders and great organizations work. And they keep learning more. You’ve read a good deal of the literature, I’m sure. So what’s up? Why does change, sudden or subtle, still trip up successful organizations?

Change can change everything.

When it changes the rules, as digital recording has done for the music industry, only the most fluent adapters survive. They survive because their management teams are aligned under top management that knows itself, its goals, and where it wants to go. When change hits intimately aligned teams, they confront it without flinching and coach each other through it, because they know where they’re going. And that makes it unmistakably clear where they need to turn.

Ironically this kind of alignment demands constant change in the form of continuous improvement, constant adaptation to the changes you can see coming, and constant preparation for those that you won’t. The result is something I call Sustainable Competitive Advantage. It’s obviously little help and no advantage to prepare in the same way your competitors do. You have to find an advantage that’s all your own and promises to keep you ahead. But you can’t stop there. You have to adapt your competitive advantage all the time, so that it’s always ready to take on any change that comes your way. That’s Sustainable Competitive Advantage.

Finding and maintaining Sustainable Competitive Advantage for your organization is the key to not just surviving but to thriving in an environment of an ever-increasing rate of change and in the ever-increasing presence of a coaching environment. There’s more about it in CQ Development Cycle.

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Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.