PART 4: The equipment for change making
We are halfway with the exploration of the mathematics of change! Wow, time flies. Here we are with the one part that is below the line. Like the iceberg model, there is more below the line than above the line. As my model shows, too much systems and processes can slow down or diminish the change you are looking for. Systems and processes are equal to the equipment used in the cheese making process.
It is top priority to ensure the equipment is clean and sterilised before any cheese making is attempted. You can have the best ingredients, but if your equipment is not clean, you will find bad bacteria from the equipment infiltrating your cheese. Some cheeses only requires the minimum pieces of equipment (cheese pot, colander), but other types of cheese requires a combination of other pieces of equipment and some requires some complicated pieces. The required amount of equipment depends on the final product and how complicated the recipe. The most of the time the cheese maker makes use of measuring equipment for the temperature or pH throughout the process. Too much of a good thing is not good in cheese making – too much salt, too much heat, too long. All of this depends on the equipment being used. If the equipment is complicated and too cumbersome, it will spoil the final product.
In the same way one should investigate your systems and processes in your organisation. Top priority should be to sterilise and clean up the processes. Sometimes technology can help to simplify a process or system, other times it makes it more cumbersome. Look critically at your systems and processes and listen to your employees, they work with it every day, they should know. Some types of people (especially those with the strategic talent from Gallup Strength finder) will get totally disengaged if the system has too much red tape and bureaucracy weaved into it. Governance is important, but make sure it is sensible governance.
I was asked to comment and support a group looking at the governance of concessions and specifications at my previous job. Thank goodness I built a good rapport with the person implementing it; because I could assist in ensuring governance took place where it mattered. Many times we add a piece of governance and then it drives the wrong behaviour – people stop to report things, because they get into trouble for it. Changing the governance slightly to reward people to report rather than to hide the facts, made the system user-friendly and much easier to implement and change the culture to start reporting. When reporting is measured negatively, it will be very difficult to change the culture.
Look at safety stats. When you give incentives to groups to lower their RCR (Recordable Case Rate), people stop reporting. The problem with this is that one will not catch bad behaviour and a false measurement and sense of security is the end result. It is important to measure RCR and to get the numbers down, but if you start to incentivise the report of the actions prior to RCR – incidents, behaviours and observations – you motivate people to share, to observe, to change behaviours and THAT will lead to REAL RCR numbers being lowered. I saw this implemented at the capital mega-project I worked on. They had minimal safety incidents even though their recorded observations were very high amidst smaller projects in the same company having more and more serious incidents. This principle of measuring the right things has proven itself over and over again to be valuable and to support positive change in culture.
It is important to ask yourself: What in your structure and processes stops change? Engage employees to identify and propose solutions, and implement agreed upon changes. Do not allow the culture of protecting the holy grail of systems and processes. Some systems are someone’s pet project and they do not want to let go. If it happens to be a powerful manager in the company it becomes impossible to change, even though the system adds no or little value. Find the courage to tackle what is needed to tackle. You can change the culture and people as much as you want, but if you don’t tackle these critical processes and systems, you will fail to implement change.
You may be the best leader you can be, employ the best people with the best attitudes, but if you measure incorrectly and use the wrong systems and processes, all your efforts are nullified. This is even more pronounced when you work with knowledge workers.
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