Skip navigation
2012
tbrouill

A Teachable Moment?

Posted by tbrouill Jun 29, 2012

Today I want to continue my discussion on how to take a long term approach in a short term environment and culture.  This is my final installment in this discussion thread based on an earlier article I wrote that asked – Are there any new ‘concepts’  or are we simply getting fooled by re-hashing tried and true concepts?  I want to re-iterate my theme and driving force behind this series, I believe now that we are being blinded by a culture that is very short sighted and does not pay heed to the past.  It seems that leaders, and organizations by extension, are so focused on the short term future that they are inadvertently buying into these re-hashed concepts.

 

This is why I believe it is so important to take these steps to help your organization progress and be successful in the future.

So, in my last entry I described my suggestion for your second step – publish and maintain your organizations vision and priorities.  I strongly believe this should be ingrained into the fabric of your organization.  It should be an integral piece and reviewed for every project that you undertake as part of the approval process.  Again, I suggest you treat the priorities and vision as the guiding principles they are meant to be.  Every project that gets approved should be evaluated based on how it supports the vision and priorities! 

 

So now in this post I want to focus on what I suggested was the last step to help you  implement the steps required to develop your organization’s capabilities -

 

  • Teach your organization how to focus on the long term again.  In addition to this you must also learn how to meld the short term goals with your long term objectives.

 

This will be the most difficult aspect of this endeavor, mainly because the concept is so elusive and even can be said to be at odds with the goals and objectives of the culture.  After all, how can you encourage your organization to take an action that is in direct conflict with every objective and priority driving your organization and the people running your organization?  It’s not easy by any means and requires dedication, creativity and careful planning.  First you must understand your organization’s vision and priorities; you must live and breathe them in your activities until they become second nature.  Second you must use a little creativity to develop a plan that will deliver the long term vision through a series of short term deliverables. 

 

Now for the most difficult part of this concept, and the most critical to its success; you must regularly review your plan against the vision and priorities to ensure that you can adjust the sequence of your deliverables in order to better meet the short term priorities of your organization.  This program and concept can be both the most difficult and the most rewarding undertaking in your career.  There is also a bit of a risk involved – just to make it a little more interesting!

 

So my advice to help you in the success of this endeavor is to be patient, be creative and be resolute in your actions to deliver the long term goals while remaining focused on the long term vision.  I hope that you can see that each of the activities that I’ve described will help to build a solid foundation and framework to put in place a very successful program.  In addition, the steps I’ve described will also help you to build a solid foundation for implementing a social framework that will support your initiative and provide the momentum to maintain the success.


Now for the audience participation portion of this program……

 

Would you say that your organization is focused on the short term to the exclusion of the long term?

 

How has this focus impacted your organization and your team?

Today I want to continue my discussion on how to take a long term approach in a short term environment and culture.  This is my third installment in this discussion thread based on an earlier article I wrote that asked – Are there any new ‘concepts’  or are we simply getting fooled by re-hashing tried and true concepts?  I want to re-iterate my theme and driving force behind this series, I believe now that we are being blinded by a culture that is very short sighted and does not pay heed to the past.  It seems that leaders, and organizations by extension, are so focused on the short term future that they are inadvertently buying into these re-hashed concepts.

 

This is why I believe it is so important to take these steps to help your organization progress and be successful in the future.

So, in my last entry I described my suggestion for a first step - create a Company Historian!  In the latest vernacular this would be the start of a Business Process Management initiative.  In other words we must first understand where we are at before we can determine where we need to go and how to get there.  In addition, document the reasons why you do things the way you do. 

 

The second step that I believe must be taken in order to create an organization focused on the long term approach is document, publish and maintain your organization’s vision and priorities – again it is critical to document these points for two reasons; the first is that you should promote the vision and priorities in all of your key meetings and planning sessions, second you must have a documented ‘history’ of the vision and priorities.  I believe this history will provide you with critical information in how your organization grows and progresses.

 

Now the question is – how do you go about doing this?

 

Again, as I stated in my last entry this should be ingrained into the fabric of your organization.  It should become reviewed for every project that you undertake as part of the approval process.  My suggestion is to treat the priorities and vision as the guiding principles they are meant to be.  Every project that gets approved should be evaluated based on how it supports the vision and priorities!

In addition, this should become a ‘living’ article or articles and they should be maintained on the same wiki that I am suggesting that you create for the procedures, functions, key performance indicators and service levels.  These should be evaluated on a regular basis and by that I would suggest a monthly review to ensure that you are still focused on the vision and priorities and to also identify revisions or new priorities or planks in the vision.  Utilizing the wiki concept for both of these initiatives provides a platform that is available to all concerned and provides the platform for comments and suggestions for revisions.

 

This practice also continues the ‘socialization’ of your organization in a manner that provides value and a means for everyone to participate in the progress of the organization.

 

In my next post I will focus on the last step to help define the steps required to develop your organizations capabilities -

 

  • Teach your organization how to focus on the long term again.  In addition to this you must also learn how to meld the short term goals with your long term objectives.

 

This next point is especially critical to the success of this initiative!  This step takes the pieces and puts them together in a manner that provides a solid framework for success of the organization in the future.


Now for the audience participation portion of this program……

 

Would you say that your organization is focused on the short term to the exclusion of the long term?

 

How has this focus impacted your organization and your team?

tbrouill

Company Historian?

Posted by tbrouill Jun 27, 2012

Today I want to continue my discussion on how to take a long term approach in a short term environment and culture.  This discussion is the result of an earlier article I wrote that asked – Are there any new ‘concepts’  or are we simply getting fooled by re-hashing tried and true concepts?  I believe now that we are being blinded by a culture that is very short sighted and does not pay heed to the past.  It seems that leaders, and organizations by extension, are so focused on the short term future that they are inadvertently buying into these re-hashed concepts.

 

So, how do we move from the short term and resulting short attention span into a longer term view point?  I believe that the first step is to create a Company Historian!  I’m actually taking liberty and having some fun with the re-hashed concept idea… By ‘company historian’ I am actually proposing that your organization should identify an owner for an initiative to document your organization’s current procedures, functions, key performance indicators and service levels.  In the latest vernacular this would be the start of a Business Process Management initiative.  In other words we must first understand where we are at before we can determine where we need to go and how to get there.  In addition, document the reasons why you do things the way you do. 

 

The reason why I suggest starting with this is because it is critical to develop a document and maintain the history of your organization by way of methods and procedures.  These standard operating procedures will provide the basis for training, for review with auditors and a method to ensure that everyone has the same understanding.  It is critical for the success of an organization to get beyond the tribal knowledge practice and develop the standard operating procedures as a basis or starting point.  In order to gain a greater acceptance and simplify the publishing and maintenance aspects this would be a perfect use for an internal wiki!  As an added benefit and step toward general acceptance this brings the added incentive of providing an entry point and a value proposition to introduce social technology within your organization. 

 

As an added incentive there are some additional benefits to this position and approach –

 

  • This documentation and especially the maintenance of this documentation goes towards eliminating the tribal knowledge that many organizations currently depend on.  The key benefit to this is that your valuable knowledge and procedural understanding won’t walk out the door.
  • The new technology aspect encourages buy-in from younger generation workers.  In addition, by providing the procedures in a wiki you provide a means for a continuous update and validation of accuracy.  This can provide added value in your retention and recruiting methods too!
  • The wiki also provides the base for a continuous improvement program and simplifies the process of measuring and identifying the improvement opportunities.

 

In my next posts I will focus on remaining steps to help define how to execute these steps to develop your organizational capabilities.  Please stay tuned and I encourage you to participate in these discussions.

  • Document and maintain your organization’s vision and priorities – again it is critical to document these points for two reasons; the first is that you should promote the vision and priorities in all of your key meetings and planning sessions, second you must have a documented ‘history’ of the vision and priorities.  I think this history will provide you with critical information in how your organization grows and progresses.
  • Teach your organization how to focus on the long term again.  In addition to this you must also learn how to meld the short term goals with your long term objectives.

 

Now for the audience participation portion of this program……

 

Would you say that your organization is focused on the short term to the exclusion of the long term?

 

How has this focus impacted your organization and your team?

In my last entry (it was so long ago that I want to be sure to provide the reference point!), I asked a rather cynical question – Are new ‘concepts’ just a re-hash of previously proven methods?  If you haven’t read that post I encourage you to take a few moments to go back and read, or even re-read that discussion to reintroduce the concept.

 

I was gratified by the response I received from LinkedIn discussions, they were all very thoughtful and I think promoted and moved the conversation forward.  I was so encouraged that I want to continue this discussion with my additional thoughts and suggestions related to the original discussion.  I was surprised, frankly, at the response to what I initially assumed would be a fun little commentary, as I said, cynical and meant to poke fun at those splashy training programs and conference topics. 

 

As I mentioned, the recent discussions started my thinking down another path however and I think this path might continue the conversation and even promote some better understanding and perhaps guidance in how to move your organization forward.  I think these ‘new concepts’ might  be the result of the current business paradigm, or business climate – a merciless and laser focus on the short-term results over, or more accurately in place of, the long term results.  The short-term focus permeates the entire organization and causes our attention spans to be shorted in order to align with this focus on the short term results.  The end result that is produced is a shortened attention span that not surprisingly causes us to lose sight of the historical context of the method or concept and as a result, in many cases we have a hard time recognizing this re-tread concept. 

 

After coming to this conclusion some very interesting realizations started to materialize for me that I think provide a multitude of examples of the shortened attention span within and across our culture.  Over the last four to six years I’ve noticed that the number of remakes in movies and TV shows is increasing, almost exponentially, and it’s getting to the point now where the only ‘new’ movie ideas come from independent and low budget market or the basic cable TV channels.  TV programs are just as bad – everything is either a remake of a previous successful program, or a reality program.  Business cycles are increasing in speed but the focus on the short term can be anti-productive.  There are two common themes throughout these examples; the focus on the short term (in these cases the short term focus is manifested by the increasing number of recycled ideas), the second common theme is the almost pathological desire to eliminate risk!

 

So now that I’ve laid the ground-work for my theory, how do I get to the title of my entry – 3 Steps to a Long Term Approach?  Let me start with something that won’t work – encourage your organization to take a long term approach.  This short-term focus has become ingrained in the organization and our culture at large so a simple mantra will not work.  I suggest a three step approach to changing the paradigm;

  • Start with documenting your history – by history I am referring to your current processes and procedures.  In addition document the reasons why you do things the way you do.  The reason why I suggest starting with this is because it is critical to develop a document and maintained history of your organization by way of methods and procedures.
  • Next document and maintain your organization’s vision and priorities – again it is critical to document these points for two reasons; the first is that you should promote the vision and priorities in all of your key meetings and planning sessions, second you must have a documented ‘history’ of the vision and priorities.  I think this history will provide you with critical information in how your organization grows and progresses.
  • Third, you must teach your organization how to focus on the long term again.  In addition to this you must also learn how to meld the short term goals with your long term objectives.

 

In my next posts I will focus on each of these steps to help define how to execute these steps to develop your organizational capabilities.  Please stay tuned and I encourage you to participate in these discussions.

 

Now for the audience participation portion of this program……

 

Would you say that your organization is focused on the short term to the exclusion of the long term?

 

How has this focus impacted your organization and your team?

I’ve been thinking and writing recently about the tendency to re-hash concepts and practices in a method that presents them to be ‘new’ concepts.  In this I’ve admitted that maybe I was letting my cynical side show itself in the way I was viewing these developments, I suggested that maybe it was related to money because of the lucrative book/speaking engagement markets.  Well an interesting thing happened after posting my thoughts; I started getting responses that followed the same line – ‘you’re not cynical and I’ve noticed the same trends’.

 

Interestingly to me, was the follow-on along the lines of ‘nobody wants to take the time to learn from the past’, or ‘no one wants to differentiate themselves by sticking their necks out’, or even ‘a lack of leadership causes these tendencies to proliferate’.  My personal favorite was the person that explained a new method he was promoting called ‘Common Sense’!  I’m not too sure about this one though because I’m sure that the marketing experts would advise against using ‘common’ in the name of any new trend.  All of this reminds me of the fable ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, these ‘new’ methods will continue to be re-hashed until someone throws the BS flag and asks what are the differentiating factors.  I tell myself that I should not get too excited about these trends because at least they are promoting methods that have been proven in the past, right? 

 

Well I’m not so sure though now, I saw a recent post on LinkedIn along the line of ‘If Six Sigma is so great and considered a best practice and is even the ‘it’ trend, how come so many supply chains suck?  I know, there are many great supply chains, but the generally accepted levels of performance are that 10% - 20% are industry leaders, or high performers; around 60% are the average performers and then that would lead 20% at the bottom of the barrel.  So when you think about it a little, if this has been a best practice method for 20 – 30 years, why aren’t there more high performers?

 

I suggest that big part of the answer is not related to ‘best practice methods’ but related to a combination of ‘best practice methods’, common sense, industry/market expertise a just a bit of foresight and luck mixed together.  I would also suggest that the key differentiating factors are common sense and industry/market expertise.   Best practice methods are the price of admission today, the key to success is how you use these methods to identify the proper area of focus.  The challenge is that in order to gain common sense and industry expertise you must focus on the key ingredient – experience!  Then, in order to promote learning and gaining additional experience in your organization you must have the patience to allow people to make mistakes and the expertise to guide them into the proper resolution.  In addition, having the patience to allow, and even encourage people to not be afraid of mistakes flies in the face of the current business practices in most organizations. 

 

Now for the audience participation portion of this program……

 

Would you say that your organization has the patience to develop the expertise necessary to become a high performing organization?

 

Do you see the same trends that I have described above?  How do you think it can be addressed?