A Fly Fisher’s Reflection On Change Management

09 Nov 2020 9:11 PM | Annmarie Uliano (Administrator)

by Alexis Devenin, PMP


Sometimes businesses run in continuous and stable scenarios and this situation can be likened to a fisherman who always fishes in the same spot from the edge of a river. Other times businesses are confronted with rapid and dramatic changes. This other situation is similar to a fisherman who floats down the river, fishing from the boat.

There are times when businesses run smoothly, and there are external market variables that fluctuate, but there are only small or regular fluctuations around an average situation. Production and business are planned and executed according to these stationary scenarios. The situation is similar to a fisherman that always goes fishing in the same spot in a river. He knows where the trout lies, the best hour in the day, and the best time in a season. He knows where, how, and when to cast, what line, and what fly patterns to use. Of course, there are good days and bad days, but on average, his method works. Unexpectedly, some days the water is warmer or muddy, and other days the water is too cold. In these instances, the tactics that he usually uses don't pay so well, but the fisher knows some tricks to use in these circumstances. This fisher can embark on his journey with a small set of fly patterns and with a specific line and rod because he knows what works there. In business, the same happens in times where there are no rapid changes.

On the contrary, sometimes in business, there are times with rapid and unpredicted changes. Phenomena such as digital transformation, Industry 4.0, the AI revolution, pandemic occurrence, etc. No company is completely prepared for these changes. Returning to the fisherman, the situation is closer to someone who is floating the river in a boat and is confronted with different fishing situations. During his journey, riffles, runs and pools are encountered several times. Each scenario demands different fishing strategies. The fisher must carry with him more than one line, at least a floating line and a sinking line, probably more than one rod, and a larger set of fly patterns. In the same ways, companies exposed to rapid changes must continuously check their strategy and operations. They must have a larger set of skills to draw upon. That is, they must have different people with different education, culture, and ways to see the world. The larger the diversity of the employee profiles, the more resilient and adaptive the organization will be.

Some companies are very uniform in their team composition. They are composed of people of the same formation and even the same school. That could be an optimal situation for a specific scenario, like the fisherman who fishes in the same spot every time. However, it is not an optimal situation for rapid changes in the environment, like the situation of the fisher who is floating the river. Clearly, with digital transformation and eruption of the pandemic, today's business scenario is close to the situation of the fisher floating down the river. Organizations must continuously review their processes and reinforce their team skills set in order to “match the hatch”.

About the Author

Alexis Devenin is engineer, MBA & PMP. He has a Professional Certificate in Foundations for Data Science from Stanford. He is interested in the analysis of industrial systems and organizations from a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, that includes tools from disciplines like data science, systems engineering and social sciences. www.linkedin.com/in/alexisdevenin

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