Saturday, September 4, 2010

Corporate Change--Step 5

What's left to make change happen?

I haven't gone in detail about any of the steps. There are a lot of nuances. There are other basic courtesies and corporate values. There is more discussion about how to have transformational, systemic metrics for objectives, going from good goals to great goals. People can talk forever about what is or isn't good communication and what management support is.

The first 4 steps will carry an organization pretty far. However, another thing is needed. It's often the hardest because most people resist it. A lot of people are high S people (in the DiSC personality classification) requiring stability and security. Their greatest need is to feel okay. Change means that they're not okay. Somehow what they were doing was not right. In order to feel okay, what they're doing has to be right ("tell me that it's right!").

Most things in the world work okay. Otherwise we wouldn't be surviving. Change is a way to make it better. Whether we're talking about the change from the postal service to facsimile (fax) communiques, from telegrams to land-line telephones to cellular phones, from interoffice memorandums composed with pen and paper or typewriter to emails, from monks copying manuscripts to the Guttenberg press to e-books, change brings new opportunities. (Shall we go through a litany of change in transportation or medicine or...?)

Change doesn't mean the past was bad. It means the future will be better. "Mr. and Mrs. S, you're okay today; tomorrow you'll be great!"

So we've got to make sure we can't go back, like Cortez burning two of his ships and sending the third away so his troops had to push ahead. Like pegging the ends of the rubber band so the tension remains and the ends can't snap back to the way it used to be.

Slaughter the sacred cows: traditions. You can find the traditions in your business when you hear people say things like: "We've done it this way for years"; "I don't remember why we changed the policy (procedure) to say (do) this"; "Every other company does it this way."

Remove the barriers, like policies and procedures that hinder the right behaviors--purchasing authority (trust), performance reviews (a whole topic on its own), the tools and perks are necessary for the new work. Change the metrics to encourage the new and more right behaviors.

Question the assumptions behind current practices. Why do we operate in shifts--convenience or real need? Why do we measure efficiency and how were the standards derived? What are the reasons for allocating overhead to various departments the way we do?

Gently probe through the answers. Remember, be gentle. Most people are resistant to change because it will feel like the past was wrong. Asking these questions will create the same tenderness and resistance.

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