Reetta Rajala: “If you’re afraid of change you won’t be ready for the future”

Technological advances such as artificial intelligence (AI) will bring major transformations to our working life and according to organizational change guru Reetta Rajala, the best way to prepare for that reality is to keep an open mind.

“You need to be ready to grow and to learn. If you’re afraid of change, you won’t be ready for the future,” Raja said during a Live Stage discussion at Nordic Business Forum 2018.

Rajala, whose firm CCEA specializes in people-driven change, said that technologies such as AI mean that many of us will have to start working in a different way. She added that people would need to adjust to an environment in which simple tasks are performed by machines while people will retain responsibility for more challenging and socially-interactive assignments.

“It will create huge potential for people to grow and be able to do more interesting things than they do today,” she pointed out.

For individuals facing the prospect of technology-driven change, Raja advised open-mindedness. “People need to be open-minded and ready to grow… You need to be eager to learn and ready to change,” she added.

The corporate change expert cautioned however that there are common pitfalls that companies may encounter as they try to prosecute organizational transformations. The first is introducing too many changes at the same time, rather that developing and managing a change portfolio.

“You will either fail to get the changes through because people can only absorb a certain number of changes. Or you will fail in your operations because everyone is focused only on the changes… Or in the worst case [scenario] you will do both,” she warned.

Another prescription Rajala offered was avoiding a top-down approach to change. “Leaders and managers very often think that they can somehow make change happen just by saying we need to change.” She advised leaders to support change at all levels by helping managers and other change agents.

If people don’t get the support they need during a change process she said, they may resist it. “If people don’t want what is sold to them then they will not want to follow,” she concluded.

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