This is the final installment in a series of videos produced by FreightWaves and SmartDrive, recorded at the recent SmartDrive Customer Conference in Atlanta. FreightWaves editor-at-large John Kingston discussed several key issues in trucking and transport today with both SmartDrive executives and several conference speakers.  

“Change management” and “change leadership” are two phrases that tend to get tossed around interchangeably. But Don Osterberg says they are very different. 

Osterberg, a former high-ranking executive with Schneider, spoke with FreightWaves while attending the SmartDrive Customer Conference in Atlanta and laid out the path that companies trying to change must take. Change management, he said in an interview with FreightWaves editor-at-large John Kingston, is the “technical aspect of whatever you’re trying to implement. It could be a process change, or it might be adoption of the technology as part of the change.”

Most companies don’t fail at that, Osterberg said. In fact, he said, “what I’ve found…is that they do that quite well.”

But it’s the area of change leadership where they fall short. Shifting a company’s culture on the issue of change is difficult, but it can be measured in many ways. One test, according to Osterberg: “If the pace of external change exceeds the pace of internal change, you’re in trouble.”

‘Success flows to these companies who can create a culture of change,” Osterberg said. People have an “aversion” to change, he said, “so we have to create a vision that is so compelling that it is more vivid than the vision that people see every day in the status quo.”

But it isn’t simple. Osterberg added, “That is easy to say and much harder to do.”

The place that a company should try to get to is one where those change-averse employees instead get “uncomfortable” when change isn’t going on. Osterberg acknowledged that is “counterintuitive,” given the natural reluctance of people to embrace change. 

“So creating and leading a culture that is excited by the opportunity of change more so than they are intimidated by the threat of change is an important capability,” Osterberg said. “Frankly, the winners in our industry are going to be those that do that best.”


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