1,2,3 Transform

No one delights in things done ‘to them’ or thrown ‘at them’.

While at uni, I remember being horrified at an experiment where pigeons randomly received food pellets or electric shocks when pressing a lever. They ended up displaying behaviours that in human terms we call schizophrenia. (Many employees have a vaguely similar experience in the workplace.)

Change……….transformation…..evolution is in our bones – literally. Why the aversion and resistance to change in our organisations? There is none. The real and profound aversion is to discomfort, threat and being treated dismissively – not to change. (If people were averse to change, no one would buy a lotto ticket!)

It was proven decades ago (Eds Deming’s Total Quality approach) that people thrive when they set iterative change goals – they consistently outperform targets imposed on them.

In my experience, people are naturally enthusiastic about:

  • Contributing their best to make an enterprise succeed
  • Focusing on efficiencies and zero waste
  • Achieving extraordinary results
  • Identifying/implementing iterative improvements (that add up to significant gains)
  • Working up to expectations
  • Learning how things fit together in all aspects of the business/market so they can contribute more meaningfully – “freedom within framework”

All these are deeply embedded in the healthy human being – your insurance for turbulent times.

Embed transformation into your organisation in these ways:

  • Adopt continuous improvement as a modus operandi driven by external indicators and internal self-scrutiny
  • Anticipate (as a collective) what/how you need to change to keep future-fit
  • Run your unit/department/organisation WITH your people – co-lead. They see way more than you do about what could work better, faster, more efficiently, more cheaply with better quality
  • Educate, inform and excite people about your challenges, your constraints and who needs to be impressed to keep them investing or buying
  • Embed rituals of Plan/Act/Review in cycles* that make sense for your operation. At least monthly, take stock of what’s gone well, what hasn’t and why, and what we’ll change from what we’ve learnt (who/how/when) and repeat
    * See article link below – “Secrets behind Graeme Hart’s Success”
  • Pair people up so they’re always cross-referencing how they’re working and what they could be doing from another’s perspective. After an agreed period, swap for cross- fertilisation. (As coach, review with each their notes from their chats – not to ‘check’ but to learn and understand what is actually happening – a reality check.)
  • If people have allocated seats, do what one client does: everyone moves seat six monthly (no “squatters”)

A true story: a coach met with a building company that took 120 days on average to build a house. He asked how they could do it in 10 days. After a few hours (during which they suspended the obvious: ‘It can’t be done’) they had dozens of ideas. He said: ‘Go and do those things.’ They ended up with a 42-day average build. Imagine the impact. (From Rob Nixon’s “Accounting Practices Don’t Add Up”)

Anything’s possible WITH people.

* http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11402478

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About Cherri Holland

Fascinated with business, brains and how to use the brains on the payroll to make business buzz.
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