Gavriella Schuster is the Corporate VP of the One Commercial partner organization at Microsoft. In her 20-plus year career with Microsoft. Gavriella has managed global projects and businesses across multiple organizations. She’s no stranger to change.

Embracing cloud-based change.

The cloud has fundamentally changed the relationship Microsoft has with both customers and partners. It has also required their partners to think differently about their own business, specifically how to develop new strategies and solutions to help their clients succeed using Microsoft technologies.

The pace is exciting, and also overwhelming at times.

Microsoft’s culture has been changing from the inside out. There is a bigger, more customer-focused purpose and we are giving our employees, partners, and customers better tools and resources that support them through change.

The vibe, internal and external to Microsoft, reminds me of the early 90’s when everyone was so excited about the direction of the company.

Leading change: Envision the future.

In terms of leading change, I talk about what the future looks like. What does it look like when we (Microsoft and partners) are successful? I try to paint 12-18, and 24-month views. We look at customers who have transformed or managed change well and how we supported the effort.

It’s like creating a sign post that reads: This is what the path to success looks like. This is when you know you’re doing it well!

Then we break it down into smaller steps, little changes we can make along the way. Maybe it requires thinking about their business model a little differently, or customer lifetime value, or how to identify when you need to bring new talent into your organization.

Think big, but slow it down.

While you can create the vision and provide tools and resources to support change, you still need to be responsive and manage the actual change that people go through. It’s not like everyone immediately jumps on board and says, “let’s go!” They have to internalize the change and understand what it means for them.

My advice: Think big, but slow it down.

Paint the big picture of what’s possible, provide the right support, help people understand what’s in it for them, and then reinforce and celebrate the successes and learn from the set-backs. All of this takes time.

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that change doesn’t happen overnight.”

As a leader, the lesson is to be realistic about the complexities of change. Approach it with a growth mindset and most of all, have patience.

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