Change is inevitable: Be a part of it!
By Lt. Col. Kevin Rhoades , 30th Operations Support Squadron, commander
/ Published April 29, 2008
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Change in today's Air Force is not new. Rather, the specifics of the changes are just different than in the past. Over its entire 60-year history, the Air Force faced personnel and budget cuts, unit and career field re-organizations, and implementation of new technologies. These types of changes should sound familiar because we face similar ones today. Interestingly, Airmen faced with change usually react in one of two ways: they embrace the change and become part of the new direction, or they resist change and run counter to the direction. Change is inevitable, and it is important Airmen accept and embrace change and be a valuable part of redefining our future Air Force!
Change within organizations is healthy and invigorating. But change must be smart and deliberate in order to be relevant to the future.
Successful organizations continually change to keep pace with the changing world. This is best illustrated by an example from the corporate world. In the late 1960s, the Polaroid Company reinvented home photography when it introduced black and white, and later color, film that developed prints in minutes without being sent away for processing. This advancement defined their company and created a very lucrative position in the home photography market for them.
Their new type of film also sent shock waves through Kodak who was financially secure as the world's leading producer of home use film. Kodak feared they would lose a significant part of the market share--which they did--but, importantly, Kodak changed their corporate model to create new opportunities. Over time, Polaroid rested on their laurels and did not accept change as digital photography began to dominate the industry in the 1990s. Polaroid's inability to change made them irrelevant and they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001. Ironically, Polaroid's long-time rival, Kodak, made additional changes which made their company relevant to the rising digital photography industry. In essence, Kodak accepted the inevitability of change, designed a strategic roadmap to the future, and carved out a new role for their company.
As our Air Force faces dramatic personnel and budget cuts, increased operations tempo, new fitness requirements and evaluation forms, ensure you are part of the strategic road map by approaching new guidance with common sense and a mind set of figuring out "how to do something" versus "how NOT to do something."
Smart change is enabled by strategic vision, proper planning, and strong leadership that challenges Airmen to view change as an opportunity versus a liability. Uncertainty and fear of the unknown cause discomfort for some Airmen because it runs contrary to their previous experience. This is a very powerful inhibitor to change in many cases.
Nonetheless, if you accept the inevitability of change and tackle it deliberately you create opportunity to rejuvenate and rebuild. The world will not be the same tomorrow as it is today. Change is inevitable; be a part of it so you do not become irrelevant like Poloroid.