GETTING RIGHT TO THE POINT
The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
The Challenge to Classical Change Efforts
If someone asked for your advice on a large investment they were considering and told you that the chances of it being successful were only 12% to 15%, what would you advise? How quickly would you want to put some of your own money into this "hot" opportunity? Probably not too quickly.
Yet, every day, business leaders -- who should know a bad investment when they see one -- invest time, money, and manpower in opportunities offering just such a probability for failure. They invest in change, improvement, and training programs within their organizations, and, while their intentions are good, their returns are not.
A 1988 survey of 3,300 senior managers and human resource professionals made this point clear. The survey, reported by Rob Lebow in his Washington CEO magazine article "Making Heroes of Workers," concluded that of the nearly $48 billion spent on training and change programs that year only 12% to 15% was considered to be money well spent. In other words, 85% to 88% of the time, traditional training and typical approaches to change left business leaders disappointed with the results. This suggests that as much as $40 billion was wasted on training and change programs that year.
A leader of a major federal agency reported that his organization spent more than $500,000 over two years on a quality-improvement program. After conducting a survey of their nationwide offices, the management team concluded that the program had been "virtually ineffective." A Fortune 500 corporation spent four years and a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money developing an "architecture for leadership" to improve management abilities within the organization. After they had implemented their new program throughout the company, the feedback they got from a number of their executives and managers suggested that the results were less than expected.
While we do not intend to belittle their efforts, it is important to note that many leaders from varying-sized corporations relate "war stories" of disappointing efforts at change. When talking with board members, stockholders, presidents, managers, and front-line employees throughout North America, we continually hear about their growing frustration with and disappointment in the minimal and short-term results achieved by even the latest and greatest change or improvement efforts. These tensions are tied directly to the colossal sums of money and time spent on programs ranging from motivation to quality control, from customer service to team building, and from cost cutting to strategic planning.
Surely, some people do come out of leadership, quality, or other training programs charged up and ready to apply what they have learned; yet, the majority of these same men and women soon go right back to their old ways of doing things. Few of these programs offer what it takes to make real change occur and have lasting effects within an organization.
One has to wonder why, with so many different consultants, management techniques, and change models, so few programs have good, long-lasting results. Our continuing research indicates that a primary answer to this question lies in the fact that many of these programs tell organizations and leaders what they need to do differently, basing this advice on their studies of other organizations' experiences.
This traditional approach to change and improvement does have a certain appeal. It seems easier when someone just gives us the answers. The problems come later when resistance develops, and someone else's approach doesn't work for us.
The traditional methodology used for implementing change or improvement often takes the following steps:
Step 1 Identify the problem.
Step 2 Bring in an expert who seems to understand the problem best, or read in a book about the latest and greatest "new" solution to the problem.
Step 3 Tell people how to do theft jobs differently and better from the way they have been doing them.
Step 4 Spend tremendous amounts of time, energy, and money trying to:
(a) overcome the resistance caused by Step 3, and
(b) make someone else's solution work for us.
It's not surprising that it takes most companies using such a process three to five years to implement a quality program. Most of theft time is spent on Step 4 -- convincing resistant employees to try something new, making sure they actually follow through, and force-fitting someone else's solution to theft needs.
Human nature keeps this approach from working effectively. At one time or another, each of us has watched others doing something and seen a different or better way to accomplish the task. Yet, no matter how much effort we make in telling them about our way and convincing them to try it, usually they continue doing it theft way. In most cases, even when we have a common desire for results, they demonstrate resistance to our idea by refusing even to try it. Or, if others do attempt our way, as soon as we turn our back they go right back to theft same old way of doing it.
We seem intuitively to know that the best manner in which to learn new approaches is to come to the conclusions ourselves, yet we still want to tell or show people how to do things a better way. And when the shoe is on the other foot, we don't want to be told how to do something any more than the next person. The exception to this rule may be in situations where we feel that our way just won't work. Then we may give up and look for guidance, finding comfort in asking someone we deem an expert to come in and give us his or her advice. We may not, however, use their methodology for long. Since it was not our own idea, we may experience resistance or lack commitment to making it work.
A New Way of Managing Change
A recent trade magazine featured a glowing article about a division of a major textile company in North Carolina. The firm had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with a highly respected, internationally known consulting group to meticulously revamp the company's quality program. The article applauded the consulting company's effectiveness and praised the division's forward-thinking leaders. It also mentioned that after only 18 months of changing most of the factory-wide systems, the consultants and management were beginning to conduct sessions with employee groups to generate enthusiasm and commitment for the new programs. The consultants and executives expressed hope that by using slogans, banners, and meetings to motivate the people, they would begin to see results from the new program within another year.
The article stated: "The company is close to being able to celebrate the successful implementation of their new quality program." If one reads between the lines of this article, however, it appears to suggest that they implemented the new systems, encountered their people's initial resistance to change and were now trying to overcome that resistance. Successful implementation was still far from being achieved.
Successes achieved by high-performance organizations suggest that before there can be any major breakthroughs in motivation, quality, customer service, cost-reduction, or productivity improvement, organizations must deal with the whole issue of change differently. While we support any attempt to help American firms regain leadership in the world market, we see constantly that it does not have to take three to five years -- or even 18 months -- to realize substantive, enduring results from change programs.
Classical change programs, like the one described in the previous example, seek to implement the systems first and deal with the attitudinal/people problems -- like resistance and lack of commitment -- later. Trying to overcome resistance late in a change process is like the antiquated and expensive method of fixing a bad product at the end of the manufacturing process. We propose that the way to create real and lasting change in this chaotic era is to deal with the issue of attitude/mindset first, or at least concurrently with the system changes. By unleashing and focusing the energy of our people first, we prepare them to support, rather than resist, the changes. Only when a critical mass of its people has taken ownership and responsibility for the needed changes can an organization assure a competitive advantage in today's challenging marketplace. In addition, no one knows what changes are needed better than your own people. The issue is accessing their knowledge and solutions.
Dealing with mindset before implementing change has helped revitalize scores of companies and organizations with which we have worked. Using this method, one New England manufacturing firm went from five consecutive years of losses to a profitable quarter. Moreover, they reaped these benefits the first quarter after being introduced to this approach, and the upturn has continued. A New York-based company with an ugly history of union unrest turned months of negative profit-and-loss statements into record-setting productivity within 60 days. They ended the year with the highest profits in their 28-year history and continue to set records in both productivity and profits. Concurrently, management-labor relationships rose to an all-time high.
This book is about the processes used by these and numerous other clients who have helped us fine-tune an effective approach to implementing change on an ongoing basis. It is also about the leadership required for lasting change and how to develop such leadership.
There has been much talk in the business community about the need for visionary leadership, which often is defined as "a leader with a vision of the future." However, many leaders have expressed to us their discomfort with the implied limitations of that terminology, because merely having the vision is not enough to bring about successful organizational change.
What is needed is enlightened leadership -- leaders who not only have the vision but who have the ability to get the members of the organization to accept ownership for that vision as their own, thus developing the commitment to carry it through to completion.
Taking this concept a step further, Enlightened Leaders actually don't need to have the vision themselves; they need only possess the willingness and ability to draw the vision from their people and inspire and empower those people to do what it takes to bring the vision into reality. Indeed, Enlightened Leaders nurture and encourage their people to be open, creative, and innovative and find what it takes to achieve their shared objectives. They bring out the best in people.
Enlightened Leadership is not so much about things to do as it is a place leaders come from with whatever they do. It actually is a state of being.
How does a leader achieve this seemingly elusive state?
This is just one of the questions we will explore together as we describe a new, unconventional approach to change management. This approach deals directly with people and their attitudes. It reaches into the hearts of organizations and their people. It helps unlock creativity and ingenuity and promotes high-performance teamwork. Daniel Yankelovich, a leading pollster on personal values, talks about "discretionary effort," the amount of energy workers choose to put into their jobs. This approach unleashes people's discretionary efforts and energy so they can be used for the betterment of the organization and for concurrent fulfillment of the individual, thus providing the fuel upon which the organization runs.
The methodologies described will help you focus and align the energy of your people into wholehearted commitment and involvement as your entire team moves together toward implementing change. The approach will show you how to create a cohesive team empowered to effectively face the turbulent challenges of the '90s. Armed with new tools and the personal power to use them, your teams will see problems as opportunities upon which they can build. Every change will become a welcomed, vital part of growth for both the individual and the organization. The tools described can make a significant difference between you and your competition by taking your leadership ability to a new, enlightened level and by empowering your people to create a continuously renewing organization.
There are specific things your organization can do right now to find solutions to current problems and to improve in areas that would better assure a prosperous future, but no one -- including us -- can give you the answers to your organizational problems. The only answers that will count in the long run are the ones you and your team discover for yourselves, not those someone else discovers for you. On a more positive note, there are an abundance of answers and solutions for virtually every situation or issue your organization currently faces, and they are readily accessible within your organization. In addition, there are no better experts at finding these answers than the people who already work for you.
How to Get the Most Out of This Book
In remembering who the real experts are, we'd like to talk about what this book can do for you and your organization. Rather than trying to provide a cookie-cutter solution for resolving specific organizational issues, this book provides a foundation for accessing the answers currently present in your organization. Rather than providing you with answers, or telling you what to do, it provides you with questions that present the opportunity for you and your management team to discover your own answers. We will guide you in discovering for yourself ways to enhance your leadership ability so that you may tap the spirit of your people and empower them to provide their own solutions to current and future issues.
The successes our clients currently enjoy continue to validate our belief that the only solutions that really work are those they discover for themselves. In the same way, the answers you discover are the ones that will work. Your own answers have worked already in the past at those times when your organization has performed particularly well.
If this book is not going to provide you with the answers to the critical issues you and your organization face, what can it do? It can:
* Clarify why traditional efforts at change don't work.
* Provide understanding about what the real issues are in dealing with resistance to change.
* Introduce an alternative approach that is effective in generating a change-friendly® climate throughout your organization.
* Present a framework for generating a continuous improvement mindset, which is the key to ongoing organizational renewal.
* Introduce a key leadership tool for getting to the answers/solutions that will work for your team.
* Stimulate solutions for your own unique circumstances.
Will this book deliver on these expectations? We carefully chose our terminology when stating what it can do. Its value can be found by applying the age-old concept that we get out of something what we put into it. Whether or not this helps you find the answers to the critical issues and problems facing your organization today depends entirely upon how you apply yourself to the opportunity. Indeed, in its truest form this may be a workbook.
Coupled with the questions we ask, the information in here helps guide you and your team in systematizing what already works and what could work even better in your organization. To accomplish this goal, however, you must do your part and get involved in the process.
We encourage you to read the questions carefully and to put as much energy into answering them as if they were a test. Your answers are, in fact, being graded, because the results of each and every leader's action in these challenging times are scrutinized by the people who report to them, the people to whom they report, their stockholders, their customers, and their peers. The grade is determined by how well each leader handles the challenges of the '90s and beyond. For this reason, we encourage you to look at these questions as if your future depended upon the answers. It might.
Copyright © 1991 by Key to Renewal, Inc.