Change at Hand in Florida

I left the beautiful Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Golf Club to take an inspiring trip to the Everglades Safari Park.

Back at the hotel, on my nightstand, is the book I brought along for my trip, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. I chose it deliberately so I could stay on topic during this trip. Over the past two mornings, the summit’s speaker, Pat Zigarmi, has helped us explore just why organizational change is so hard — and how we can make it go down easier. (See my interview with her in the April issue.)

Zigarmi identified three different kinds of concerns people have when faced with sweeping changes at the organizations they work for: information concerns (leaders try to sell their people on the change rather than giving them the rationale for that change), personal concerns (the single-most important reason why change fails at organizations is that the people responsible for carrying out that change are not enlisted in the process and feel they have lost control), and implementation concerns (what do I do first?).

A diverse group of meetings industry professionals shared how they addressed those kinds of concerns while implementing recent major changes at their organizations during this morning’s panel discussion. David DuBois, CMP, CAE, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, discussed how he was able to get buy-in from city council members for bureau funding and create metrics for measuring against aggressive sales goals. Christie Hicks, senior vice president of global sales for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, talked about how the economy required her organization to do business differently by reorganizing the sales force. Sherry Romello, CMP, vice president, meetings & conventions, National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), revealed how her association embarked on a major cultural overhaul. And Lisa Schelle, director, global meetings & events at Nike, took us through the “Just do it” company’s strategic meetings management program initiative.
Hopefully, we all left this morning’s panel discussion a little wiser about what it takes to change our organizations for the better. Those of us who took the Everglades tour right after the session got the chance to view firsthand, right outside our bus window, what it takes to undo unwise changes in a different environment, with a capital “E.” During the 1950s, we learned, non-native species of trees were planted to soak up the Everglades in preparation for a building boom. Thankfully, the boom didn’t take hold, but unfortunately, the trees did. It is now costing the state billions of dollars to painstakingly destroy those trees in order to restore the Everglades ecosystem.

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.