On Change

July 15, 2009

Organizational change is difficult.

Jon Nitto President of a SME (emphasis mine)

It’s a liberating change. They can support more clients better and faster. But without us taking them through the process, they didn’t believe in it. We still have work to do. It has taken almost a year for everyone to grasp what the product is doing, but more important, where our company is going. And with that knowledge, we’re ready for our next challenge.

Some good lessons

1) Change Management is not one or two meetings, not a couple of weeks; Almost a year

2) Your people can’t do it alone, effective leadership means that as a general manager; Change needs you, or it fails

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5 Responses to “On Change”

  1. elliotross Says:

    Thank you for dropping by Jon,

    Your context is exactly how I was relating to your story.

    I consider it a text book example that change is hard, change is difficult and that as leaders, that type of change cannot be abdicated.

    In Miki’s response, she is continuing a long string of conversations we had previously had. We had discussed that strong visionary leaders (I have a dream…..)

    Still require hands on, strong, and disciplined execution at a tactical level.

    The one without the other can leave you with a failed change initiative.



  2. […] Turn Around Story About Top Down Change by Miki Saxon A post by Elliot Ross led me to a story that, as the author says, should provide a cautionary tale for all […]

  3. elliotross Says:

    Miki – Thanks for dropping by!

    I agree 100% “leader-with-a-vision” is a buzz word.

    “leader-with-a-vision” works fine if the day to day execution can rest with a strong operations officer, but the SME space, “leader-with-a-vision” is just a good intention if there is no corresponding hand on the reins of execution!

    Best Regards


  4. Miki Says:

    Hi Elliot, after reading John Nitto’s article I wouldn’t say this was about leadership, or at least not the leader-with-a-vision that the industry loves so much.

    The shift was a basic cultural change, which are the hardest to make. Management seemed to think that if they led employees would follow, but it doesn’t work that way these days.

    More power to Nitto’s persistance and willingness to identify and rectify his errors, but, honestly, they shouldn’t have happened in the first place. I can’t imagine what he was thinking, especially considering his age (based on the picture).

    Of course, the same thing has and is happening in companies across the country (and around the globe) and I doubt it will stop any time soon.

    Thanks for the link to a very interesting story!

    • Jon Says:


      Thanks for the kudos on our persistence. I have to admit that I’m a little confused about what I’m supposed to infer from your comment about my apparent age.

      I’m fairly certain that you understand the point of the article. It’s a how NOT to change something as fundamental as your company culture.

      In our (my?) defense, we’re hardly the first VAR to face this challenge. In fact, there have been many who have simply failed and are no longer in business. We’ve turned the corner, quite successfully, and have a team that TRULY understands our company’s direction. I suspect that, while probably not unique, we’re in the minority.

      I have been in this industry for 19 years and, during that time, witnessed a lot of changes that affect the way we run a SMB-focused VAR business. This change represented a significant departure from our normal SOPs and the culture we had built over a period of 15+ years.

      The idea behind the article was to potentially illuminate a few areas that could possibly allow other VARs to take an easier/smarter path and be more successful for it.

      By no means was this article meant to imply that I was a leader-with-a-vision. It was completely a team effort, starting with a small team and finishing with the entire team.

      Thanks again.



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