5 things you can do to mitigate unknowns and get better results.
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5 things you can do to mitigate unknowns and get better results.
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The promise of better performance via digitization and real-time access to information is best achieved if we begin with a process-centric view. With that, ask the question: What minimal information does each process require to make the best possible decisions? By so doing, we sort the wheat from the chaff and relay only the information required to speed decisions, enable agility and lift results.
We’re impatient. In delivering products and services everybody wants to improve results. Yet, progress rarely matches expectations. To create an advantage, few things hold greater promise than digitization. We’re well equipped with computers, smart phones, tablets and touch screens… and lots of data. The cloud allows us to distribute huge quantities of information with ease. In spite of all this technology, we bog down when it comes to parsing critical bits of information needed to make the people-process interface work best.
Merging the concepts of “digitally enabled change” and “performance” can mean different things to different people. We’re seldom on the same page. The connection between digitization and performance is two-fold: First, it should enable better and faster decisions; and second, it should help compare results in order to propel best demonstrated practices. Such entitlements are pure gold for a large enterprise. Let’s take a closer look.
“In our projects, “digitally enabled change and performance“ often means to provide the right information to different stakeholders. E.g. to gather data from comparable machines all over the world, and to compare a dedicated machine with the others. There is always a best and a worst and when you ask why, you get a chance to improve. Or to gather best practices from different teams and to provide this knowledge in a manner that somebody else can use to solve problems directly, or faster or better. This requires connectivity to gather the data – to have a kind of intelligence to make information out of the data and then to turn information into knowledge.”
Instead of starting with all the data available – both signal and noise – and pushing it into the process, we start by looking at the process itself and ask what minimum information (data) is required for people closest to the work to make the best decisions.
Why is worker inclusion so important? In practice, we’ve found that only the people doing the work can reliably tell you what information is essential to getting the job done right. Thus, engaging in front-end information conditioning is vital to actually reducing lead times, revealing improvement opportunities and paving the way for a better future-state work process.
As its name implies, a Decision Map emphasizes the idea that faster and better decisions are the precursor of optimal processes. We start with a fairly traditional view so we can see the process flat on the wall – it could be a swim lane map, box and wire, value stream map, etc. Then we identify places where information is required to make decisions and take action. We pose simple enough queries that often prove to be thorny lines of inquiry such as:
|Who makes the decision and is this right?||There can be no room for ambiguity.|
|What information is really necessary?||Less is more. Extraneous information is inventory and inventory has a carrying cost.|
|Is the decision point in the right place in the value stream or could it be moved or consolidated?||When more than one point makes a decision, it’s an opportunity for no decision.|
|What’s the best way to collect and convey the information?||Critical point here. Some information is best collected and conveyed electronically. Some is better suited for human involvement. This must be sorted out deliberately.|
The maps show us different functions and accountabilities. You will find that some of the same data and information will be allocated to more than one location for different purposes. The point here is that these distributions of information are not a push of all information to be sorted out by the users, but rather they are done with a logical intent to provide only the information necessary to make the best decision at any given node.
For faster and better point-of-use decisions, information must be relevant to the user. Because of this we highlight data that is layered according to function and accountability. While daunting in an environment that identifies with “everybody can and perhaps should know everything”, a disciplined “need to know” approach makes whatever information is conveyed seem more valuable to the user because it is concise and actionable – it sorts out the wheat and the chaff is left behind. In the end, Digitization can enable change and performance in remarkable ways. But, the concept works best when we don’t just throw all kinds of data at people and process and hope for the best. Up front evaluation of the process with the people doing the work is the right way to start. It makes change stickier and reduces rework and frustration. Most of all, it gets to optimal performance much, much faster.
Want to know more about how Kaufman Global helps clients manage change and improve performance? Contact us.
*ROI Management Consulting, AG is a German-headquartered, network partner of ours that specializes in operational performance.
(This article is an excerpt from our Procedural Adherence and Risk white paper. Click here to acquire the full document in a downloadable format).
Almost never do people violate procedures with bad intent. When it happens, it is enabled by a vague work culture coupled with urgent product and service demands. The effects of rules broken ripple through the organization with a range of negative consequences: personal safety, financial results, employee morale and public perception. Learn how to reduce procedural adherence problems and boost performance with behaviors that influence how employees view and deal with risk.
The enterprise works hard to define and defend organizational procedures to maximize speed, accuracy and return — and still, rules are routinely broken. Individuals and teams opt for apparent shortcuts that appear to speed things up, but instead delay progress, sink performance or worse: put people in harm’s way.
People view and manage risk at a personal level. This sometimes results in actions that oppose the stated values of the enterprise which include adherence to procedures and rule-following. But there is a contradiction here. Instead of diligent procedural adherence, the enterprise is often more concerned with chasing (perceived) fast results and near-term profit at any cost.
The translation: The true value of the enterprise is that it is actually ok to break rules, especially when a customer-facing issue or revenue stream is in play. From the point of view of the individual faced with the pressure of “getting the job done” it’s simply less risky to violate some procedures to keep the machine moving. This fundamental misalignment of values is a breeding ground for mistakes and ultimate poor performance – including and perhaps especially, catastrophic events.
Achieving a state of better procedural adherence — that is, predictably getting employees to stick to predefined processes and standards — is a losing battle for many organizations. They desperately want people to follow the rules, yet their own culture drives decisions to the contrary. Why? Because everyone treats procedural adherence as a step in a process instead of a behavior motivated by perceived risk.
Many factors impact how employees comply with procedures: company culture, environmental complexities, the quality of existing support systems, and human nature. In this white paper, we’ll break down what drives employees to behave the way they do, so you can recast your organization as one where procedural adherence is the norm.
A popular consensus is that it’s easiest for people to follow safety rules. While a narrow view, it’s useful to illustrate some truths about risk.
The basic reason we enjoy some measure of success with procedural adherence in safety matters is because unsafe behaviors are visible and may result in immediate consequence.
But there is a more fundamental reason why. Accidents cause personal harm and enterprise disruption. In other words; failure to follow the safety rules can be bad for everyone. This alignment – a mutual understanding of risk – serves to induce a state of better procedural adherence with respect to safety matters.
Safety programs further reinforce these notions by stating that anyone can spot and audit unsafe behaviors and must do so as part of a “safety culture.” Unfortunately, easy-to-observe violations cause only a fraction of all incidents. By contrast, invisible missteps tend to stay buried deep inside complex procedures, only coming to light when something’s gone very wrong.
Given this insight, it’s all the more astounding to realize that, even where it’s clear that procedural non-compliance hurts everyone and rules are explicit, people will still make choices that put themselves and others in harm’s way. When this happens, it tells us a lot about the underlying values of the enterprise and how we all think about and deal with risk.
A procedure is a complex chain of tasks and processes that are linked and sequenced to deliver a product or service to a customer. In that “value chain”, many hands touch and impact deliverables: individuals, functions, departments, service providers, suppliers, partners and so on. Each actor has visibility into their part of the chain, but rarely to the ins and outs of the entire system, nor the potential cascade of consequences that could arise from a misstep.
Mostly, people move through the day doing their job, responding to inputs, and reacting to issues as they arise. Occasionally, there’s a need to divert attention to a more complex problem, but mostly it’s about turning the crank. Immediate surroundings and cultural norms — “the environment” — drive much of their behavior.
The pressure to perform follows a few main themes: Keep things moving, be efficient, manage costs and assure good quality. No matter what anyone says, or how many DO THE JOB RIGHT posters hang on the walls, job pressure doesn’t necessarily include following the rules. The status quo barks out: Get the job done. In such an environment, going with the flow is perceived as less risky than monitoring and complying with all the procedural requirements. After all, we’re problem-solvers, right? A little rule-bending is expected and condoned.
For all of us, two distinct modes of thinking are constantly in play: fast and slow. Fast thinking is reactive, responsive and automatic. It looks for patterns, gets us through our day and requires little energy. When considering the equation: 2+2, you quickly conclude 4 as the only possible answer. That’s fast thinking.
Slow thinking, on the other hand, is just that: slow. It uses lots of energy because it requires focused attention. You’d need to employ slow thinking to multiply fractions, for instance, or to figure out how to avoid your least favorite relative at the family reunion.
As we fast-think through our day, we’re trying to avoid risk by paying attention to what people around us expect. This is human nature and not much of a conscious decision. Cutting some corners feels reasonable.
At the enterprise level, where policy is made and direction is set, the job IS slow thinking: planning new and better ways of doing things, improving results, satisfying customers and avoiding unpleasant surprises. All of those outcomes seem more likely when people follow the rules, so adhering to standard procedures is viewed as a way to lower risk.
Table 1 contrasts these dynamics from the point of view of the individual vs. the enterprise. This misalignment between risk perceptions, plus the reactive nature of fast thinking patterns, are the reasons why your organization might be having a hard time achieving better procedural adherence. If rules are routinely broken where you are, it’s because no matter what anyone says, your organization’s true values are to get the job done — even if it means not following procedures.
A caveat: the foregoing assumes that tasks, processes and procedures are well defined, well documented and well understood — which is almost never the case. If you expect compliance but have not made the procedures clear, easily available and understandable, you’re fooling yourself and shortchanging your valuable workforce.
Given our understanding of how human nature drives or hinders procedural adherence, we can construct a simple definition. Procedural adherence is:
If we break the definition down piece by piece, these points are important to understand:
Our definition of procedural adherence goes well beyond the notion of false slogans and checklists to encourage compliance. It provides handles for people to grab ahold of. If we really want better procedural adherence, values must be aligned and why values were not aligned in the first place is the real root cause analysis that must be done.
Start by getting a grip on definitions, documentation and conveyance of the procedures that need to be followed. Focus on the ones that are most vital to the enterprise. Rationalize the list of critical expectations and then ACT on them. This requires active governance (that probably doesn’t currently exist) versus the typical haphazard, “Let’s do everything” approach.
Once you have a solid set of rational procedures that must be followed, react strongly when violations occur and dig for the cultural root cause when they do. You’ll often find the violators felt they were acting in accordance to their bosses’ objectives and in the best interest of the enterprise. Note: There is often a lot of bad precedent to be undone here.
While the conventional approaches to procedural adherence problems – Defining, Training and Discipline – have their place, they could be sabotaging your compliance efforts by looking like progress, but instead are just more of the same.
We now know your enterprise and the individuals inside it at many times think differently. People on the ground think fast and avoid personal risk by occasionally breaking rules — and if the organizational culture says it’s ok to do it sometimes, it’s ok to do it any time. Conversely, the “think slow” enterprise seeks to minimize risk by getting everyone to follow the rules.
The key is to align the risk profiles for both. It’s the only path that works because it operates at the behavioral level. This requires a direct frontal attack on the status quo — an uncomfortable proposition for most, but one that must be done if real change is desired. After all, we’re talking about replacing poor habits (behaviors) with good ones. This is a goal that can only be accomplished with an approach that is: (a) highly visible, (b) effective in its execution, and (c) simple enough for everyone to understand.
Our solution — which many high-performance organizations have successfully adopted — is an engaged and visible coalition of leaders whose implicit and explicit objective is to reinforce a set of values with which everyone can align. We call this body the Functional Steering Committee (FSC). FSC participants are directors and functional heads tasked with managing major process nodes along the value chain. They meet weekly and review procedural adherence status by asking three questions:
Why meet weekly? In our experience, a weekly cadence is vital. If less, participants lose interest and urgency. Monthly sessions result in a last-minute rush to gloss over subpar progress and shoddy work. This is the very behavior that better procedural adherence is designed to attack. But by tackling issues weekly, communicating expectations, asking the right questions and demonstrating the benefits of procedural adherence, the risk alignment profiles noted in Table 2 become the new status quo.
The chartered and structured FSC is a new behavior. It’s highly visible and is a leading indicator of better procedural adherence. Over time, the enterprise and individual employees begin valuing the same things, and decisions become more aligned, consistent and mutually beneficial. And, FSC benefits don’t stop here.
The FSC governs the technical aspects of improvement too, pinpointing gaps that might otherwise go unnoticed. For example, if someone does not have a documented procedure, who better to help than the FSC? If there is confusion about how a procedure is supposed to work, the FSC intervenes. If someone isn’t following the rules, the team will find out why and encourage / remove barriers to doing so in real time. The FSC can surface innovations that can then be built into the formal, standard approach.
With respect to procedural adherence, often this governance role is not being done well, or at all. This is a gap that needs to be closed. Yet the usual objections will be heard: “Do we really need another meeting?” and “Can’t we automate this?” Some will suggest that technology is a better answer, or another meeting is too much. Technology can help, especially in the area of standard templates and sharing best practices. Remember, however, that you’re dealing with a behavioral issue. If “just another meeting” seems like too much, eliminate three useless ones or have the FSC integrate the responsibilities of the team that’s investigating the most recent catastrophe.
One of the biggest problems your organization will face is getting functions and departments to come together to solve system-level problems like procedural adherence. The solutions to these types of problems: efficiency, effectiveness, productivity, quality and customer-focus are solved using Lean and other process improvement techniques. The first step is gap identification, and this new approach with the FSC is ready-made for that.
Einstein famously defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. You’ve likely heard that proverb a dozen times, nodded in agreement, and returned to old practices expecting new outcomes.
Likewise, returning to traditional approaches where procedures are treated like guidelines instead of values-driven standards will result in the level of compliance in your organization remaining unchanged… or inconsistent, at best.
It won’t be easy. Old ways die hard. Your organization will face tough decisions about chasing revenue, be tempted by the notion that a small defect or minor violation won’t matter, and that speed trumps standards. These moments of truth happen every day, swaying people to compromise and make poor choices.
The payoff for doing something truly different, however, is huge. Imagine a 20% reduction in catastrophic events and the benefits when this 20% is spread across all types of incidents. Imagine a team of leaders working across functions, better understanding each other’s needs, and monitoring handoffs between them. Finally, consider the relief, shot of confidence and productivity for frontline workers who know the rules, and no longer feel the pressure to disregard them – instead, operating in an environment that demonstrably values them.
This post is an excerpt from Kaufman Global’s White Paper: Procedural Adherence and Risk. To acquire a copy of the full white paper, click here.
If you’d like to learn more about the services we offer related to addressing Procedural Adherence challenges, click here.
I recently read an article that asked the question: How many types of waste are there really? This was in reference to Lean and the original seven wastes in Taiichi Ohno’s iconic Waste Wheel, shown here.
The comments were interesting. Apparently there are tightly-held beliefs on this topic. Let’s try not to over complicate something that Ohno intended to be quite simple, but because waste is the red thread of all Lean, it’s worth consideration.
Purists believe that there are 7 wastes as described by the sensei and there shall be only 7 wastes. Period. Another faction makes the argument for adding the “waste of people’s intellect” or something similar. This notion has become increasingly popular over the years. Kaufman Global added it long ago, but I’ve always found the classification a bit difficult. Is it intellect, human potential, creativity, insight, involvement, et cetera? Unlike Ohno’s originals, these descriptors seem abstract and difficult to attach to an action.
The case for waste of intellect arose from the observation that bosses and managers tend to treat people like cogs instead of active participants in value creation. Ohno’s writings illustrate his struggles to help people understand. Who knows why he didn’t include it in his original work? Maybe he considered himself an “under-cover” social engineer and felt that sticking to hard assets was more pragmatic. Or maybe he didn’t want to too openly point out that management was missing the point? The gap shows no sign of closing soon.
If you want to get really basic, there is only one true waste: TIME. With Lean, time is incorporated in many ways: cycle time, value added time, non-value added time, downtime, uptime, etc. Ohno simply broke it down in a way that made it easy to identify obvious targets to be addressed with appropriate techniques.
My take: It doesn’t really matter. Waste can be subdivided many ways. If you think there are 20 different types of waste and this helps attack any one of them better; go for it. In the name of continuous improvement we must be willing to add or subtract in order to improve the system. Right? Yes. Be careful though: More choices seems somehow less Lean, doesn’t it?
Which brings us back to the concept of the waste of people’s intellect. When it comes to achieving operational excellence, a tremendous amount of time is lost by failing to engage people doing their daily work. Non-inclusion results in false starts, half measures, low sustainment and do-overs. Workshops and Kaizen Events may be common, but sustainable results are only achieved when people are tangibly connected to everyday improvement.
Any attempt to be operationally excellent means real and sometimes uncomfortable change; which always meets resistance in some form. Alignment is about getting everyone to support new ways of work. This is a cascading process where actions are different depending on ones place in the organization. If there was only one choice about what to align on however, it would be the need to engage everyone.
Engagement means giving people a voice in the work they do and holding them accountable for continuous improvement. Achieving broad engagement up and down the organization is tough for many. Kaufman Global uses structures like the Executive Steering Team, the Lean Daily Management System ® (LDMS ®), and Procedural Action Teams to force engagement. They’re simple enough to understand and do too. If methods are overly complicated, they are easier avoid.
When it comes to waste, everything revolves around time but it’s okay to define as many subdivisions as you like. If you had two to choose, I’d recommend alignment and engagement. When you get these right, smart people working together toward a common goal always solve the other problems.
If you want to learn more about Kaufman Global’s approach to engagement and alignment, check out SLIM-IT, Procedural Adherence and Lean Daily Management System. For a deep dive into the waste wheel and how it applies to Lean, check out our White Paper: Implementing Lean Manufacturing.
The Carrot Story is a thought-provoking parable on how organizations achieve positive change …
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When it comes to guiding an organization through transformative change, control is the determining factor. How much design and direction is pushed down from the top and how much discretion is left to the rest of the organization will make or break any initiative. The best outcomes are achieved by striking the right balance between two approaches: Top-down command and control versus autonomous decision making. Moving the organization off their status quo means certain things must be directed and enforced, yet many organizations fail because so much of their energy is focused on controlling the wrong things.
Successful transformation efforts demand collaboration up, down and across the enterprise. For process optimization to occur, the organization must establish ways for people doing their work to be continuously involved. Significant changes (processes, procedures, work standards, etc.) they must be developed collaboratively. If new methods and approaches for process, communication, safety and efficiency are foisted onto the organization, resistance mounts and the game is over before it’s even started.
The culture of the organization and individual leadership styles will impact how transformation efforts go. It’s usually difficult to tease one out from the other since they are the product of their collective and often mutual experiences. Even so, it is a mistake to use culture as an excuse for poor progress. There are ways for leaders to adjust their approach within the context of the existing culture. In top-down environments, unless there are real changes in the fundamentals of collaboration, it soon becomes evident that the “transformed” enterprise looks and operates as it always has.
Self-Regulating Systems – Feedback, input and action at the work-group level are the hallmarks of good performance systems. Self-regulating systems engage the organization to do three things:
These systems integrate those doing the work in the design of the process and ask what needs to be done to optimize performance. These systems are less bureaucratic and faster to react.
Command and Control Systems – Here, process design and work standards are developed far away from the work processes. Command and control systems:
Those who embrace and perpetuate authoritative command and control systems believe that top down management knows more about how work should be done than those closest to the work. These “managers” hold power dearly and resist engagement for fear of losing power and control.
Authoritarian organizations are less efficient and less effective than those where a certain and significant control is pushed down into the organization. When this happens, reaction times in the dynamic environment speed up and safety and efficiency improves because decisions can be made faster. Standardizing and enforcing how the organization engages as a self-regulating system yields the greatest long-term benefit. Unfortunately those managers who survive in top-down systems are the usually the last ones willing to give up “their” control.
Command and control styles dominate because they are more traditional and more familiar. For bosses and managers, giving up control is tough, especially when under stress. Self-regulating systems don’t require any less work, but in them the direction from the top shifts. They require people to own their performance and enforce the best framework to make this happen.
For those control freaks out there who must control something, fear not ― moving into a more autonomous environment requires plenty of leadership and direction. No organization comes together one day and says, “Hey, let’s all take some control and regulate ourselves and own our performance!” Getting to this place requires a transition of power that requires a lot of work for both traditional leaders and their organizations who are used to being told exactly what to do. People are smart though, and they will find the best ways to optimize processes, enable standards and share learnings if they are given the chance and a mandate. Start by describing a structure that accelerates engagement, collaboration and autonomy and then make sure people are fully subscribed.
In October we conducted a survey of 100 executives in our network that have deep experience leading operations and operational excellence efforts. Our goal was to examine how organizations are evolving in their construction, use of and thinking about OpEx today. 16 key topics were covered, with Sustainability being one of them. For this section, we wanted to find out how many of the respondents had experienced OpEx build-up and tear-down and, we wanted to learn something about why.
THE DATA: 78% of the population surveyed have seen OpEx fail at least once and a staggering 37% at least three times in their career.
KG POV: The data gives us an indication of how often OpEx fails. The answer is… a lot. It’s easy for organizations to get distracted. For those of you who have not experienced an OpEx failure, consider yourselves lucky. For those of you who have, you’ll appreciate the consistency of participant comments (subset below) from multiple enterprise types about the reasons why.
In looking at all the comments submitted around this question, four themes emerged as reasons for failure (see list to right of the pie chart). They are: Change in Leadership, System not Embedded, Value not Evident (Relevance) and Market Downturn. It’s interesting to note the fairly even distribution of reasons by category. When you pair that with the high rates of failure overall, it tells us that if the system is weak, almost anything can kill it.
If you would like to receive a copy of the full report that includes all 16 topic areas, please give us a call +1 317 818 2430.
The following is an excerpt from Kaufman Global’s white paper, On Procedural Adherence. In this paper we discuss how complexity thrives in the middle of the organization where change is often most difficult, and what you must to do address it.
One sure way to optimize performance is to identify and standardize best known practices and have all adhere to that new standard. This is a primary objective for organizations that strive to win in competitive markets. Despite their best intent, it’s an elusive achievement for many. It needn’t be.
Procedural adherence means executing against a defined set of standards in a particular way, even when it’s possible that alternative approaches could achieve the same result. When standards are arbitrary, we get chaos ― an environment where infinite possibilities exist and individual preferences prevail. This way of doing things leads to outcomes that are anything but certain and, more importantly… provides no baseline upon which to build systematic improvements.
For decades, the target audience for process standardization and procedural adherence has been the front line of the organization. Within that population, efforts are often focused on repetitive processes like those found in manufacturing. Some enlightened enterprises may extend these efforts to administration, service delivery, field operations, and so on. On the whole however, most attention to-date has been narrowly focused. This needs to change. While there continues to be plenty of opportunity on the front line, even greater opportunities exist in the middle of the organization. It’s here that procedural adherence can deliver major benefits and value.
In the middle of the organization, individual contributors and teams work on and within complex systems such as designing the Hubble Telescope (a classic and depressing story of procedural non-adherence), administering care and services to hospital patients, or drilling an oil well. Complexity and clarity don’t always go hand-in-hand. Comparing what should be done versus what is being done can be difficult. Only those closest to the action know for sure what is actually occurring. Even one level up, managers and bosses may be too far removed from the process to know or ask the right questions. This leaves a gap where a lot can, and often does, go wrong.
The middle of the organization is the place where people are most vested in the current way of doing things ― no matter how bad they may be. This is where resistance to change is best informed and most capable. Any successful attempt to change processes or even develop consensus on a standard here must include some well-planned change management.
Traditional Approaches ― Why They Don’t Work
Ready to dig deeper? This article is continued in our White Paper: On Procedural Adherence. Click here to download the full text.
See also our White Paper: Procedural Adherence and Risk
Kaufman Global will be presenting at the IADC Human Factors Conference in Galveston Texas Oct. 17-18, 2017
On Procedural Adherence: Jerold Timpson, President, Kaufman Global
Procedural Adherence is about behaviors. Many organizations focus on the technical side of procedural adherence (documentation and training), but don’t do so well with the behavioral aspect. Often the first indicator of a procedural or process problem is when a major malfunction occurs, a catastrophic event. Smaller, less obvious issues result in major loss, but are often not addressed at all. To improve outcomes, we must shift values, engage the organization in different ways and establish new behaviors that are leading indicators of procedural and process adherence.
Change is inevitable. Whether you’re leading it, supporting it, or it feels like it’s being forced upon you, uncertainty can make change a painful process. A new reporting structure, the arrival or departure of an employee, or a company acquisition can make you feel like your world is turned upside down ― but only if you let it. The challenge lies in being able to more easily (and gracefully) consider, accept and adapt with the changes that occur. A part of you must become immune to the fear that stems from the unknown or unfamiliar. Ultimately, you have to learn to take an active role in the parts you can influence or control. When this happens, you might even become an advocate.
As seen in the reality show competition Survivor®, where the rules (i.e., Outwit, Outplay, Outlast) are straight forward, there are countless opportunities to be blind-sided by change. In Survivor, the most successful participants are not only more in sync with their surroundings, they also possess the ability to think on their feet and lead. When opportunities arise winners quickly adapt to them, even when the change is put in motion by others. There’s a constant give and take that transpires ― lead, then follow, lead, then follow. Mutual respect is key. While some people can more easily navigate different levels of authority and structure, others kick and scream through it. On Survivor, they’re typically the ones voted out first.
So, when confronted with change and uncertainty in the workplace, how do you more effectively adapt, survive, or even thrive? Beyond reading Dr. Spencer Johnson’s classic Who Moved My Cheese?, consider a few of these ideas to make the transition easier.
Lack of communication can have negative impacts, while effective communications usually aid the change process. Don’t sit back and wait for things to happen― if possible, talk to the person presenting the change. Not only will you get some of your questions answered, you may be providing that individual with insight about what kinds of additional information the organization views as lacking. However, beware of “updates” that come through informal channels like the break room and shop talk chatter, as news that travels that way is often distorted.
Change requires flexibility. The better you are at adapting to change, the greater your chances are of being successful. It can be easy to get wrapped up in the gritty details, without ever thinking much about why the change is happening in the first place. Take a good look at the new situation and instead of focusing only on what will be different, look ahead and consider the destination that you can be part of.
In planning for the future, organizations often conduct an analysis for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). That type of SWOT analysis can be just as helpful to you individually. What skills and strengths do you have? Where do you need to improve? By understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, and educating yourself on the new situation, you can proactively look for opportunities to take on new responsibilities and challenges.
Negative thoughts block your creativity and problem-solving abilities. Positive thoughts build bridges to the new reality. Look at change as an opportunity and strive to find the benefit within it. As you do this, an attitude of anticipation will grow as you evaluate the potential of what could be.
As you journey through life and experience new situations, you’re bound to make mistakes — that’s human! The important thing is to take a lesson from each of those situations and apply the learning. Not only does this better prepare you for future periods of uncertainty, you can impart that knowledge to others and help them manage experiences that are new to them.
In the end, change can be disruptive. But, with the right attitude and actions, you can become a change advocate finding creative ways to participate and affect a more positive outcome. After all, you’re a survivor right?
The following is an excerpt from Kaufman Global’s latest White Paper: Engage the Organization and a Performance Culture Will Follow. This paper examines the reasons why leaders fail to pursue engagement, even while it’s proven to be fundamental to value creation. Content stems from research completed with top leaders and known change agents with diverse industry backgrounds.
Engagement is about working together, being involved, two-way communication and, most of all, the ability to have input, make decisions, and take action on those things within one’s immediate control. This level of involvement surely generates value. However, value can be a complex topic. If you doubt this, read a little about prospect theory, loss aversion and anchoring. Here, we are talking about the benefits that are derived from efficient and effective processes.
The most basic definition; the worth of something, implies subjectivity. Value for a product or service is best understood where it is created, and where it is consumed. Since the term means different things to different people we need to find some common ground. A simple way to think about it goes like this: Value remains when waste is removed. Waste is anything an all-knowing, all-seeing customer would not be willing to pay for — because it has no worth to them. Just as the customer has an opinion about value, those closest to creation of the product or service know the most about how to mitigate waste and increase value. This definition allows anyone to ask and answer value questions related to their personal situation, such as: “Would the customer be willing to pay for:
You get the idea.
The individual or team touching the product, service or process creates value, and the customer judges it. However boundaries can’t go completely undefined and left to personal whims. In day-to-day work, value is bounded in absolute terms like quality, quantity, time, etc. These definitions are turned into metrics and spread across the enterprise, but usually at levels too high to effectively measure individual or workgroup performance. Only through engaging the organization at this level ― those doing the job — can we react to the dynamic environment, make real-time adjustments and capture the value that is otherwise lost.
Peter Drucker, the highly regarded organizational design and management thinker, described “knowledge workers.” This was a natural evolution from manual labor and factories to offices, information, data and design work. We need to expand the concept of knowledge worker and describe a new one: Value Workers. These are individuals and small teams (aka natural workgroups) with common deliverables. They subjectively know the most about and best way to achieve optimal results within their sphere of influence. Value workers apply their deep local knowledge at their position along the value chain. A few examples:
Manufacturing | The assembly line worker knows the most about how to reduce the amount of movement required for the job. The maintenance technician and equipment operator are best able to increase Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and reduce Mean Time To Repair (MTTR). The Plant Manager optimizes factory output by engaging the functions and taking decisive action.
Psychiatric Hospitals | The direct care worker may recognize patient behavioral triggers sooner than their physicians due to daily interaction and familiarity. The unit treatment team is best equipped to improve a patient’s mental health by making necessary changes to the treatment plan. The Hospital Administrator balances the needs of the patients, nursing staff and doctors and sets priorities.
Oilfields | The maintenance technician controls cost by managing the proper inventory of materials to complete a job. The operations manager knows the most about balancing customer priorities for field technical equipment. The oilfield operator knows which component suppliers contribute to the best rig operating conditions or uptime.
If leaders want better results they must embrace pushing decisions and the ability to make change happen down into the organization where value workers engage.
Download and read the entire White Paper here: Engage the Organization and a Performance Culture Will Follow.