4 Ways to Prepare for Inevitable Change

Over the course of history, external factors have forced inevitable change upon organizations. In the face of this, some organizations thrive. These businesses reinvent themselves and become trailblazers in their industries. Others falter and struggle to restart, leading them to their demise.

For example, Blockbuster dominated as the video rental company in the 90’s. However, their miss-steps led them to their eventual bankruptcy in 2010. The company never viewed Netflix as a viable competitor. Additionally, they never viewed digital streaming as a real threat.

In comparison, between its inception in 1997 to present day, Netflix evolved its business three times to change with the times – first as a DVD rental company, then as a subscription-based DVD rental company, and finally as the Netflix we know of today. Their ability to embrace the inevitable change of consumer preferences and technology led to their meteoric rise. Today, Netflix is a $215 billion dollar company while Blockbuster ceases to exist.

The Blockbuster story is just one of many examples of how businesses need to organize themselves for change.

Transforming an organization for inevitable change

The signals and signs of change are not always obvious. In the case of Black Swan events, there is no amount of preparing that can galvanize an organization against the event’s long-term impact. Take the COVID-19 pandemic as an example. No one could have seen a global pandemic over the horizon. As a result, businesses are having to adapt at warp speed. And some companies are being left behind.

Such events are a sobering reminder that it is not enough for organizations to plan for change. Instead, organizations need to adopt a culture which espouses adaptability and flexibility. By adopting this mindset, teams will ready with the knowledge and capabilities for turning tough situations into opportunities. With that, there are four ways that leaders can prepare their organization for inevitable change.

Inevitable Change

Hire for inevitable change

It is important to understand whether the organization has the types of leaders who embrace and welcome change. It is also imperative to understand whether these leaders are in the right place. Are there key individuals who are resistant to change and if so, what are their reservations and trepidations?

Leaders who are not onboard to do what is necessary to help an organization evolve will become blockers in the organization succeeding. There may be personal motivations for not welcoming change. Alternatively, they may simply fear change. Either way, such attitudes may manifest itself as toxic behavior. Examples of such behavior include negative engagement in meetings or even unwillingness to complete work tasks.

As a result, it is important to understand where your leaders stand on their propensity to change. Even more important, organizations should check in regularly with their leaders to see if their motivations still align with the company.

Build resilient teams

After identifying the right leaders, the next step is to facilitate a culture that fosters resilient teams. Teams that can manage and work through uncertainty can translate these skills to effectively deal with change.

One way for teams build resilience is to practice responding to crisis. By going through such an exercise, the team members will form their own norms around how they want to work with one another. Additionally, they will receive practice on how to respond In an environment that is changing quickly and with minimal to no information is available. This enables the team’s ability to work together through difficult scenarios as well as develop norms on how to handle uncertain situations.

Adopt a strategy that rewards flexibility

Flexibility can read as high costs to organizations that pursue cost leadership as their corporate strategy. However, it is important to recognize that companies need flexibility in order to adequately respond changing environments. Additionally, organizations can build flexibility into their overall structure without sacrificing cost.

For example, Toyota’s structure focuses on continuous innovation. Their structured in a way which enables them to incorporate employee suggestions to iterate their manufacturing processes. These suggestions allow the company to drive down production costs. The incorporation of these improvements into their manufacturing would not have been possible if the organization culture was not flexible.

By shaping the organization’s rewards, incentives, and controls in alignment with managing and even encouraging change, organizations can shift employees focus to becoming more adaptable to situations, even before being adaptable is required.

Invest in innovation

Pursuing innovation may seem like another management fad, however the companies which have come out as leaders have done so with the help of innovation. Netflix’s simple innovation upon their revenue model and then again with their primary product helped them beat out Blockbuster.

Another company that prides itself on innovation is 3M. Their ability to commercialize their innovations has allowed them to survive over a century, transforming from a mining company to the multi-national conglomerate that it is today.

Key takeaways

  • External factors will lead to inevitable change for an organization; how an organization responds to these external factors will dictate whether they thrive or falter.
  • Organizations need to ensure that they have the leaders that are willing to lead change as well as prepare teams for resilience.
  • Leaders need to facilitate an environment that is responsive to change by creating a corporate strategy that rewards the behaviors of flexibility.

Related Readings

Professional Leadership Institute (PLI) is an educational website providing professionals from all types of businesses with practical education in human resources and leadership. To keep evolving your leadership toolkit, additional PLI resources below will be useful:

Recommended Resources:

Uncover your strengths and weaknesses with our complimentary assessment. Boost your effectiveness at work and with your team.

Free Resource Library: Access our extensive collection of valuable resources for instant support in your personal and professional growth.

Explore Our Course Library:

Enhance your leadership skills with our diverse selection of courses. Take your abilities to the next level and become a more effective leader and team player.


Our Clients Love the Professional Leadership Institute

Your team will, too! Check out some reviews from our students.
The PLI program was invaluable to our network.
The range of topics delivered, the open dialogue, experience, and examples that PLI brought to each session were outstanding and provided a path for our Franchisees and Managers to look at leadership, coaching, and connecting with their teams in a new light. Many have implemented these strategies in their bakeries and have seen immediate results.
Michelle C.
COBS Bread
Highly recommend to help your team move forward
We have locations around BC and Alberta, so getting people on the same page can be very difficult... Until now. Our entire management team and location managers take the same great courses and then meet monthly online with our coach to apply it to our situation. People are engaged, the courses are excellent, we love our coach, and we are all learning together!
Jason Fawcett
President, Kelson Group
The result has been a transformation of our culture. 
We decided to implement PLI's strategies across the country in over 150 locations and over 3500 employees.  The result has been a transformation of our culture.  People's lives have been positively impacted - professionally and personally.  Morale is high and sales and profits are up as a result.
Daryl Verbeek
Daryl Verbeek
We’ve learned how to fix ongoing personnel issues once and for all
The roadmap laid out set our business up to quintuple in sales.  We've learned how to fix ongoing personnel issues once and for all, attract top talent, and spend our time focused on results, not internal staffing problems.  I highly recommend PLI to you - it's worked for us!
John DeJong
Satisfied Client
I had no idea that running a business could be this fun!
In less than 18 months of working with Trevor, he has transformed my business from being average to exceptional, where mediocrity is not acceptable, where being great is standard.  Working with PLI has allowed me to realize my dream of not simply owning a job, but owning a business.
Justin Bontkes
Principal, Caliber Projects
Our culture has taken major steps forward this year
Our culture has taken major steps forward this year with Trevor’s help.  He is funny, relatable, and his tools are very very practical and have helped us focus and upgrade our teams throughout our retail network. Trevor recently spoke to an employee group, and one person remarked, “I could listen to Trevor all day.”   We would highly recommend Trevor.
Stan Pridham
Founder, KMS Tools
The results have been remarkable
At first, we resisted, “This just won’t work with a law firm.” But we persisted and the results have been remarkable: our client base and profits have steadily improved, and staff engagement and morale is the healthiest its ever been.
Doug Lester
Partner, RDM Lawyers
Helped our fast-growing business become what it is today
I've experienced PLI's approach first hand and it's been crucial to sustaining our growth.  I can't imagine a business that wouldn't benefit greatly from his help.
Brian Antenbring
Founder, TEEMA
Provided practical ways to make positive changes
Trevor was incredibly well-received by the entire organization. He was able to articulate people issues that many of our franchisees were experiencing and provided them with practical ways to make positive changes. We have implemented the Star Chart tool across the organization and see it as vital to building happy, effective teams.
Aaron Gillespie
President, COBS Bread
Scroll to Top

Start Learning Today

For Individuals

Unlock your potential and accelerate your career with sought-after management and leadership skills.


Transform Your Organization

For Teams

Book a consultation to discuss your challenges and discover how we can help you build a winning team.


Sign Up For Weekly Tips!

Get Weekly Coaching Tips Straight To Your Inbox Every Monday.