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Leadership | Insight Edge
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You Want to do What? Change Doesn’t Have to be Hard…

Posted by admin on
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January 11, 2013 under Change Management, Leadership, Operational Performance | Be the First to Comment

There is a lot of literature on the topic of change, and managing change, which implies change is “hard” or even “bad”. Think about it though - change in and of itself is not good or bad. In fact, change is necessary to our very existence – from the air we breathe, to the change and renewal of the cells in our bodies. Without change, we would stagnate – not a pretty sight!

What makes change difficult is resistance. Whether it’s personal change needed based on feedback from others (think of feedback from your doctor about potential health risks and the behavior modifications required to minimize or eliminate the risk), or organizational change (based on market conditions, competitor moves or financial challenges). As the Borgs, from the Star Trek series, say “Resistance is futile” – and probably damaging, too.

So, how can we better facilitate change? In organizations, leadership plays a key role in the ease of change. Bear in mind, though, leadership doesn’t necessarily refer only to formal “leaders” (management), but to informal leaders as well – those who have influence over or are respected by others. That means anyone can be a leader of change in their own spheres of influence.

There are several key concepts and strategies for successfully facilitating change – whether for ourselves, or in our work environments:

Recognize change is necessary
At a minimum, acknowledging the fact that change is necessary is crucial, but change (and the effort it will entail) will be even more palatable if we recognize that it can actually be beneficial. Change is the expression of our creativity and innovation, and the realization of growth and improvement in problem solving, developing new products or services, or envisioning a different future for ourselves. If we can’t even acknowledge that things should be different, we’re destined for more of the same at best, or more likely worsening conditions and the changing world leaves us behind. Without recognizing the necessity of change, nothing else matters.

Communicate broadly and clearly
Once a change in direction has been determined, it is critical to communicate the decision clearly and broadly to an organization. Just raising the topic of change triggers all kinds of emotions in employees – “Will I lose my job?” “How will it impact me?” “I won’t have the skills needed for this.” Forthrightness is needed in addressing these often unspoken questions, and the greater the quantity questions which are addressed, the less threatening the change will be. The important messages to convey are the reason for the change, and how it will impact employees and other stakeholders. Focus on how things will be better once the change process is completed. Even if there is bad news to convey, communicating openly and with honesty will go a long way toward alleviating fear.

Additionally, regular communication throughout the change process will contribute to allaying any continued fears of employees. Fears and questions are not an issue only at the outset of a change initiative – they crop up regularly through the entire process. This is true particularly if there are changes in staffing levels. Don’t forget those employees retained in an organization staffing reduction will have fears of their own – they will fear the increased workload, if nothing else, when there are fewer resources planned. We all know the amount of work to be done will never be reduced in proportion to reduced resource levels!

Use champions
In every organization, there are people who can influence others. Seek out those people who embrace the changes being made, and encourage them to “champion the cause”. They can informally respond to questions or concerns, point out the positive results which can occur, and even show individuals where opportunities may lie. Choose enthusiastic, energetic evangelists and feed them often with news and information.

Include all stakeholders
Remember, it might not just be organizational personnel who are impacted by the change. Consider the impacts to your vendors, suppliers, customers, investors, and any others who might be impacted or interested in what is happening. Often, these other constituents have ideas or resources which will be useful to the change process itself. Yu owe it to them and your relationship to include these parties in the dialogue.

Request feedback
Throughout any change process, feedback should be solicited from all stakeholders, and addressed. People need to know not only that they are being heard, but they are also being listened to – there is a difference! Hearing and responding to feedback communicates the message that all ideas, input and concerns are valid and/or potentially viable. In addition to generating “buy-in” from employees and others, ideas and suggestions from those outside the immediate change management team may offer sound ideas leading to greater innovation or increased capabilities.

Pay attention to the naysayers
In every change effort, there will be those who are skeptical of the initiative, or downright oppose it. A savvy leader, however, listens to the critics for elements of truth. The negative feedback you receive should be evaluated for concerns which might not have been addressed or considered. Further, it’s likely that if one brave soul voices negative feelings, others are certainly feeling them, too, so these thoughts are worthy of consideration and resolution. In fact, think about it as your own informal risk identification alert system! If the concerns are credible at all, there are obviously some risks which have not been sufficiently addressed. These should be considered and mitigated as appropriate.

As you think about the coming year, changes are inevitable. The question is – how will you respond to them? Are you embracing the possibilities? Or resisting?


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The Importance of Thinking Laterally

Posted by admin on
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Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
April 1, 2010 under Leadership, Process Improvement | Be the First to Comment

For several months now, we have been talking about moving forward with our strategic plans, and implementing the right technology for the job. We have talked about why technology projects fail, pointing out that organizations tend to get the “cart before the horse” by selecting technology without necessarily considering how it will impact the business processes it is designed to support. There is an additional element that needs to be considered when enabling change through the implementation of technology…

Often, organizations are reengineering processes and implementing new automated systems to address business process challenges, whether automating manual processes or enhancing existing software applications. Unfortunately, organizations tend to make one very large mistake during these efforts – they make change management decisions in the context of a single silo – solely within their own departmental boundaries.

It is a rare team, indeed, which considers how to improve operations across a full business process. For example, a customer service organization might consider how they can more quickly respond to and address customer calls. They might implement call center software or other technology that allows customer service representatives to answer calls within X number of rings, and enter a sales order within X number of keystrokes.

However, has any thought been given to the “upstream” or “downstream” processes, and the impacts on those process “handoffs”? It is likely that our customer service organization is thinking only in terms of its own organizational silo, and how those “internal” processes are being performed.

Granted, those metrics and operational functions are critical to the organization. However, what about the downstream process of order fulfillment, for example? When considering the technology or business process change, are you considering how to more effectively provide the inputs needed to fulfill that customer order?

What about product development processes which (should) rely on customer feedback in order to develop products customers will purchase? How are these processes impacted by the changes made in the customer service department? Is there an opportunity to improve the information being collected in the customer service department so it can be provided to the product development team?

I think you would agree that all departments play a key role in the operational capabilities of an organization. Each must work together in a synchronized manner in order for the organization to be most effective. If one of those processes gets out of whack, the “wobbles” are felt throughout the rest of the organization.

When considering making improvements to your functional area, consider the following:

  • Identify the specific information, documents or other inputs you are receiving into your departmental business processes. Can they be provided in a more useful manner or format? Are they being provided often enough? Too often? Is there anything missing from the input that causes rework, delay or additional effort in order to execute your own business processes?
  • Evaluate the outputs of your business process – the product(s) you provide for the “downstream” process. Are you providing the input in the right format? Often enough? Too often? How could you make your work product better so it can better be utilized by the recipient (whether internal or external)?

By considering the inputs and outputs from your own business processes, you are improving operations not only in your corner of the world, but potentially in other areas as well. Further, you are demonstrating to others how to affect the best kind of change – change that allows the entire organization to work more effectively and efficiently.


Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Dissatisfied Employees - Can We Save Them?

Posted by admin on
Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
January 5, 2010 under Leadership, Process Improvement | Be the First to Comment

A new study by The Conference Board (http://www.conferenceboard.org/utilities/pressDetail.cfm?press_ID=3820) released today shows an increasingly dissatisfied workforce.

A recent survey of 5,000 households found that only 45% of respondents are happy with their jobs - the lowest level since 1987, the first year the study was published. The top reason for discontent? Job design (i.e. interesting, challenging, meaningful work).
 
Interestingly enough, the satisfaction of the youngest portion of the population (those under 25 years of age) is at the lowest level is satisfaction level ever. It seems that many of these employees should only be in their first job. So, what does that say about their expectations for receiving personal satisfaction in the workplace?

Another startling statistic revealed by this study is that 22% of persons polled do not expect to be in their current job in a year. Considering the current state of the economy and forecasted levels of employment into 2011, that number seems very high. Just imagine if the national employment figure were closer to 5% or 6% - how many of our employees would be looking to “jump ship”?

Executives should be paying close attention to these statistics, and considering how to respond to this situation. If you were to lose 22% of your workforce, when it is likely already overstretched, what would you do? Do you have the succession plans, policies and procedures, business processes and training programs in place so you could respond quickly to this scenario? Could business continue, let alone grow, if you lost almost ¼ of your staff? Contingency planning is something we should be reviewing and adjusting on a regular basis.

Better yet, what does it take to create an environment where employees are allowed to innovate, and have challenging and meaningful work? If you could create an environment like that, how would it impact your ability to compete and thrive in the current economy? What steps are you taking to make this a reality in your organization?


Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Paralysis is Not a Component of Operational Strategy

Posted by admin on
Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/40/d130640441/htdocs/Blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
July 16, 2009 under Leadership | Be the First to Comment

Economic challenges impact everything we do these days – personally and professionally. Are gasoline prices going to rise? Will I have a job next month? On and on it goes – the questions and uncertainty.

 

In our personal lives, however, we recognize that we need to be more cautious – maybe we eat out less often, or carpool more. What we don’t do, though, is let the fear paralyze us into inaction – we still live our lives and work toward our goals, albeit a little more slowly.

 

So why is it then, that companies facing the same types of challenges (read fear), react differently? I have recently spoken with a number of people in different organizations and industries that are just paralyzed with fear – of doing anything right now. They voice it out loud and I can hear it in their voices. Sometimes it makes me wonder if they are even still breathing….

 

A company’s operational strategy, though, is based on the defined business strategy and developed with environmental considerations factored in. While there are times that assumptions made during the development of the plan are more conservative than actually occur, there should be risk mitigation strategies in place to address the issue(s). A bad assumption shouldn’t mean the company completely ceases executing the operational strategy!

 

Stop letting fear distract you from the tasks at hand – profitable operations and growth for your organization. Focus on what you can do given the current constraints, and take “fear” out of your corporate vocabulary.


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