By Spiros Milonas, Founder of Krataion Consulting
Change, transformation, evolution, renewal, reorganisation…no matter how you call it, change is an unpleasant process. You might love the place you will -hopefully- end up but not necessarily the process you have to go through to get there.
This has been the case for us. Krataion Consulting was founded in 2012 and like every other vibrant organisation it has been constantly evolving and changing. However, the last 3 years have been quite a ride and we want to share with you some highlights.
But first things first. There are different kinds of change. You can improve the value chain, the business operations, the business strategy or even your products and services in order to respond to changing market conditions. And there is also the kind of change that touches your core; who you are beyond your products and what you do. For the latter kind of change you need to disrupt and -boldly put- betray your established patterns, which have brought you to where you are today.
So, back to our story. 2017 ended with an identity crisis linked with a poor financial performance. We soon realised that we had to look at things differently, stand in the market differently, define who we are differently. Sounds easy? Well it was not. We came to realize that we had to change on so many levels. To name a few, letting go of our reservations and putting ourselves out there, redefining our services and moving from a consulting agency which focuses on what it does to an agency that focuses on its purpose (a purpose that by the way had not yet been articulated) and its own unique ways of maximizing value for its customers (which had also not yet been discovered). And as if that wasn’t hard enough we also had to deal with changes in the core team, personal challenges that some of our team members were facing (and I am talking about difficult stuff), our well-known pandemic and a recession! Piece of cake right?
These seemingly irrelevant, but in fact deeply relevant challenges, were what started this transformation process. We began asking ourselves what needed to change and this was a turning point because we were openly asking questions without necessarily having the answers. How can a consulting agency that helps others find answers and solutions, justify its own existence when it cannot provide answers to itself? We started navigating into this very uncomfortable zone of not knowing. And it is not that we didn’t have answers to questions such as who will our next client be or how to increase awareness of our services! I am talking about burning questions like: what keeps us from being extroverted? What scares us? What are we missing? What truly strengthens us? Which are our blind spots that block our growth? What kind of projects make us be at our best? What would the market miss if we went out of business? Which is our fingerprint and our leading principles in delivering our services? And some more personal questions such as, how can I as the leader of this business find and hold the right place to support the team in this change?
3 years later and after lots of discussions, processing, experimentation, and reflection we are in better shape than ever. This is an ongoing process but we feel we can now share some realisations -since more will follow- which could be of value to you.
- Getting started is more important than being right. One step at a time. Keep the end goal in mind without worrying too much about pre-determining the journey. This is not like saying I want to lose 5 kilos and this is the diet I will follow. Hold the plan lightly and let the process emerge.
- Allow yourself to ask questions without having the answers. Be brave enough to stay with them and see what comes up. You will not lose face as a leader or a professional if you do not have the answers. The mind demands answers and it is only natural to protest when there aren’t any. Create a safe zone instead for now knowing where the team can collectively look for answers.
- Start feeling comfortable being uncomfortable. Change, Life, Growth happens outside our comfort zone. Establishing new patterns means letting go of what is familiar. It’s OK being uncomfortable and not in a “I am walking with my flyers down the whole day” kind of uncomfortable but “this is new to me, what is really happening here” kind of uncomfortable! If you are, then you are on the right track.
- Don’t force the result but rather trust the pace. This does not mean passively observe but rather not force things. When you have not been going to the gym for your whole life do you seriously expect to run the marathon in 2 months? Acknowledge your current reality, accept it, honour it and stay with it before trying to change it. There are no shortcuts in deep changes.
- Be present and observe semantics & details that have value and can act as a compass. Why has this happened and what needs my attention now? Difficult circumstances are an opportunity to grow – ask yourself “what does this have to tell me about myself, my team, my organisation”? Are people present during a meeting? What are the first words they use? What about their reactions? When there is tension in the team I find it a great opportunity to let things beyond the surface unfold. It took the team some time not to look at me like the psycho who just loves a fight.
Acting and actually moving towards a desired change are two very different things. You can be busy acting without actually moving and evolving. Being, always comes before doing, which means that our inner state determines our outer actions. No profound change is easy. But it is such an enriching process. We now realise that we could not have navigated others’ change unless we had not gone through that process several times ourselves.
This is just a part of our story and thank you for reading it. We hope it can resonate with you and help you in your own journey. 2021 here we come.
P.S. I guess the wish “don’t ever change” is not the best you can give or take 🙂