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2014

In order to encourage commitment and participation, especially when first starting your continuous improvement team it would be a very good idea to include a reward program.  The business value that the continuous improvement team will deliver to your collaboration partnerships will grow as the participation and the partnership grows and prospers.  In order to ensure the continued commitment the team that is instrumental in achieving that business value should share in these rewards.  While the satisfaction of the achievements can be a great reward there is nothing that will encourage the continued participation and development as much as rewards for the team.


Rewards can be made up of many things, from recognition and celebration of the success to monetary sharing in the business value delivered by the improvements.  The rewards should start with the celebration and recognition of course.  This recognition and celebration of the small successes will provide two benefits to the team, first it will provide the recognition from the leadership of the performance and second it will encourage and support building the team spirit and camaraderie.  This recognition and celebration is important especially in the early stages of the team development to encourage the team spirit and maintain the focus on the team initiatives.  It is especially important in the early stages of the team forming that the wins are recognized and celebrated in order to maintain the momentum.  This recognition and celebration will also be important in the later stages of the team development when the team runs into internal and external conflict and the many hurdles to delivery that will be necessary to overcome.


Your rewards program should also include the opportunity for monetary rewards that should be mixed into the recognition and celebration.  Monetary rewards can take on many forms and should be explored and mixed up to encourage the commitment from the team.  You can mix monetary rewards with celebration through team outings.  These team outings provide the additional benefits of building the team spirit and camaraderie.  Additional forms of monetary rewards can include additional time off to reward success. You should  be imaginative to maintain the interest and participation of the team.  This is a critical aspect to the team building process and you must maintain a focus on this especially because of the cross functional and cross company nature of the team.  You must provide the opportunity for the team to socialize in order to build the team spirit and camaraderie.


In order to really seal the deal though there must be direct individual rewards.  These direct rewards come in two types, the first is direct to the individual through performance evaluations and promotions and the second is through value sharing programs.  Obviously the easiest and most straightforward method is through performance evaluations and promotions.  The individual’s participation in the improvement team will provide the opportunity to quickly demonstrate capabilities that would have taken much longer to demonstrate outside of the participation in the team.  The second form is a value sharing program, which is a little more difficult to implement and administer.  The difficulty comes from defining, tracking and administering the value to be distributed in the sharing program.  While this can be an important tool it can be difficult to administer, especially when you take into account the team is made up of cross company members. This form of reward is best left for the later stages of the team development when the team is truly performing.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

The continuous improvement facilitator is a critical role in the success of your collaboration partnership.  As I previously discussed this role will increase the likelihood of success by providing the guidance and the encouragement to follow the procedures while the continuous improvement program is in its early and most fragile stage.  Previously I discussed the role of the fire starter as a critical ingredient to starting a new initiative.  In this discussion I have moved past the fire starter role into the execution and acceptance of the new initiative, in this case the collaboration partnership and the methods to nurture and grow the initiative.  Let me say though that the fire starter will play a critical role in incorporation of the continuous improvement facilitator to support the nurturing of the new collaboration partnership and the infant continuous improvement program.


First I should list some of the personality and experience requirements of the facilitator.  The facilitator must have experience in team building across a broad cross functional organization in order to build the team across the broad group of collaboration partners.  The experience from building the team across a large cross functional organization is the closest experience to the organization and relationships that will be part of the collaboration partnerships.  This experience is necessary because building a team across the varied interests and cultures of your collaboration partners requires patience, determination and imagination to encourage and develop the team.


Second the facilitator must have demonstrated success in building a continuous improvement program across a broad cross functional organization.  This experience is necessary because again it is the closest approximation to the type of effort and requirements for building a successful continuous improvement team across the broad range of cultures and potentially conflicting  objectives and practices that will be found in your collaboration partnerships.  This type of experience demonstrates the expertise of the facilitator in helping the team understand and commit to the mutual benefits of the partnerships.  This type of experience also demonstrates the expertise of the facilitator in helping the team prioritize objectives that may deliver benefits in a sequence that benefits other partners first.  It is important that the facilitator helps the team understand that delivery of another’s objectives first may provide a greater overall benefit to the partnership. 


Third the facilitator must have experience in working across all levels of an organization’s hierarchy.  This experience is important to demonstrate the expertise in communication and and influencing the direction and priorities of all levels from the senior leadership to the front line employee.  While the majority of time will be devoted to working with the continuous improvement team and a majority of that team should be made up of front line employees, the facilitator must also have the demonstrated expertise in communicating and even influencing the senior leadership across the collaboration partnerships. 


This type of facilitator expertise while new for your collaboration partnership improvement team is related to the experiences I mention above.  The initialization and development of this continuous improvement team will be difficult to successfully deliver and the additional cost of the facilitator will pay dividends in the success.  Don’t try to save a few dollars in this area that will wind up costing a great more due to missteps and miscalculations in prioritization and team development.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

The collaboration continuous improvement program provides the framework and the fully engaged and committed team members provide the effort and direction for the success of the program. There is one final ingredient to this equation and framework, as I discussed previously, that will help to increase the chances for success and increase the chances of the program to become self-sustaining.  This final ingredient I suggest is an experienced continuous improvement facilitator.  This facilitator will provide the expertise and guidance necessary to build a solid and successful continuous improvement framework to support your collaboration partnership.


I believe that it is important to staff the continuous improvement team with members from across your partners.  I believe that ultimately this equation, of a continuous improvement team across the collaboration partnerships, is the key ingredient to the long term success of your collaboration partnership.  This does however place a lot of pressure on the partners to build a continuous improvement team and program that will bring quick success to build a solid and long term program.  In this type of situation I believe very strongly that investment in an experienced facilitator will provide a strong return on investment that will quickly recover the additional investment cost. 


Let me list some of the factors that lead me to this recommendation. 

  • The team members that you and your partners assign to this continuous improvement program will have the experience in your own procedures to identify and develop the program to succeed in your collaborative partnership.  T
  • This team will have the experience to quickly identify areas that can increase the success and value of the collaborative partnership.
  • The team will have the expertise in their internal processes and procedures to allow them to clearly define and execute the improvements.
  • The team will probably not however have the expertise necessary to facilitate the prioritization and value definition of the improvements identified in the program.


This last point is the hurdle to overcome and it is important that you not try to squeeze savings from this area.  The success of your continuous improvement program and the success of your collaborative partnership is dependent on the early success of your continuous improvement team and initiative.  Bringing in an expert in the development of the continuous improvement program along the expertise to facilitate the initiative will allow the team to focus on the initiative and build the framework that will support the success in the future.  In addition to the expertise that this expert brings to the program, this expert will also provide a level of comfort to the senior leadership of the partnerships that will encourage the leadership’s early commitment to the program and provide the runway for the continuous improvement team to gel and develop a pattern of success that will encourage the commitment of the participants.   


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

In order to ensure the success of collaboration commitment you must implement and nurture a process.  This process must take into account the objectives to build the partnership and encourage the delivery of mutual benefits and objectives of the partnership.  This process must also encourage and support the long term goals and objectives and growth of the partnership.  Based on  all of these objectives and requirements I suggest that the process that supports them all is a continuous improvement process.  This process will formalize the participation of all levels of the partner organizations along with providing a robust framework to identify and develop the objectives that will bring value to the partner organizations.


A continuous improvement program provides the framework that will encourage participation of both internal and external partners.  This framework includes the tools and procedures that provide the means to execute a repeatable process and these same procedures provide the means to encourage the participation of the members.  This framework of ‘plan, do and review’ is nothing new, I’m not suggesting that you should implement some complicated process that will be difficult to maintain, no I’m suggesting that you implement a tried and true process that has been proven to be successful over and over again.  Implementation of a continuous improvement program across your collaborative partnerships provides the two key ingredients to the success of the collaborative partnerships; a means to encourage, measure and obtain value from the collaboration and second it provides the comfort factor of a process that is understood and probably practiced by many of the partners.


Remember that in previous discussions I focused on the importance of participation and commitment?  The continuous improvement program provides this framework to encourage the participation and the results of the continuous improvement initiatives provide the results that will encourage the commitment of the participants.  There is one additional piece to the puzzle that I suggest as a requirement to ensure the participation and commitment of the continuous improvement team members; an experienced continuous improvement program facilitator.  This facilitator will ensure that the procedures necessary for a successful continuous improvement program are introduced to the team.  The follow through of the enforcement and the monitoring of the procedures until they are second nature of the team will ensure the long term success of the program.


A second benefit and contributing factor to the participation and the commitment of all levels of the partnerships is that the continuous improvement program concept is an industry accepted and encouraged methodology.  This will tend to increase the comfort and acceptance of the senior leadership of the partner organizations and this acceptance of the senior leadership provides the first ingredient to encouraging the participation and commitment of the front line employees. 


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

tbrouill

Collaboration Commitment

Posted by tbrouill May 23, 2014

Developing and maintaining the commitment of your collaboration partners depends on the commitment of the participants.  The commitment of the participants then depends on the acceptance and implementation of the suggestions of the partners and especially the front line participants.  The commitment of the senior leadership is displayed through the implementation of the suggestions for improvement from the front line participants.  While the focus on the two areas, internal and external silos, is important to the collaboration, the focus areas provide the target for development of commitment.  The commitment of the participants in the collaboration is the objective.


I believe that you should take a top-down and then bottom-up approach to the development of commitment.  Let me explain what I mean by this.  In order to get started you must gain the buy-in from the senior leadership, this is simply a fact of business life.  This commitment from senior leadership will start with the promise of the benefits that can be achieved and is critical to starting the collaboration initiative.  This however is only the beginning of gaining and maintaining the commitment required to maintain the collaboration objectives and benefits.  In order to truly achieve the objectives and benefits you will require the commitment from the front line participants.  I strongly believe that one of the key ingredients to success in your collaboration partnerships is the participation and commitment of the front line participants. 


Participation is the first step to acceptance of every partner in the collaboration initiative.  Participation can be directed or ordered by the senior leadership of the partnerships to get started.  This direction to participate however direction to participate does not make collaboration or encourage participation.  I really don’t see how you can achieve a level of collaboration without the combination of participation and commitment of the front line participants.  This combination is the foundation of successful collaboration and must be nurtured and maintained through the commitment of the senior leadership.  Senior leadership must provide a bit of fire to encourage the full participation and commitment of the front line internal and external partners.


Senior leadership can provide this fire first by encouraging the participation of the people rather than directing or ordering participation, and second by accepting and implementing changes suggested by the front line.  This can be achieved by implementing a review and improvement team that is made up of the front line workers and charging this team with evaluating and defining and implementing improvements to support the collaborative network.  However, its not enough for the leadership to implement this improvement team, the leadership must also show their commitment to the program by encouraging and implementing the improvements.  I don’t think that the improvement team should include a senior leadership member, however there must be regular review meetings with a senior leadership review board to discuss and approve improvement initiatives.  This is an important aspect of the improvement process and demonstrates the commitment of the senior leadership to the program.


The commitment and participation of the front line employees can be a fragile achievement initially and should be nurtured by the leadership of the entire collaborative partnership network.  In addition to the fragile beginnings, the commitment and participation requires continuous attention to ensure and encourage the continued commitment.  This is definitely not a once-and-done task but is very much a critical ingredient to the success of both your collaboration partnerships and your collaborative continuous improvement program.  


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

tbrouill

Collaboration Focus

Posted by tbrouill May 20, 2014

There are some areas in an organization that I believe will benefit the most from a collaboration focus such as product manufacturing and supplies.  The benefits achieved through collaboration and a focus on other areas within an organization will extend throughout both your own organization and across your partners’ organizations.  The power of collaboration comes from the cross functional and expanded reach that is provided through the soft benefits of collaboration including extended visibility and metrics to analyze and adjust performance indicators and performance drivers.  I think there are two key areas that will gain the most from collaboration; internal silos of functions within your own organization and external silos of functions from external organizations that interact with your own organization.


My suggestion of these areas may seem a little simplistic because afterall it focuses on the same challenge from two sides of the challenge, if you will its two sides to the same coin.  The counter argument however is that sometimes its the most simple challenge that creates the greatest obstacles to overcome.  I see the challenge of overcoming silos both internally and externally to be one of these challenges.  The method that I believe necessary to overcome the challenge of silos is in fact a third challenge that must be overcome to achieve and maintain success.  This method is the support and active participation of all levels of team members from the senior leadership to the line worker.  Without the support and active participation of all these levels, your chances of success in overcoming the internal and external silos will be greatly challenged and potentially impossible to achieve.


I will focus on the method to overcome the silos rather than the silos themselves.  I don’t believe I need to re-hash the challenges of the silos or the negative impact that these silos can have on an organization because its been covered so many times.  The important aspect for this discussion is the means to overcome the negative impact of the silos through collaboration.  Its really a very simple equation, or process, to achieve or deliver on collaboration; namely you must encourage the participation and engagement of the people across the silos and across the internal and external organizations.  While it is a very simple equation the execution of this equation can be extremely difficult.  The success of the execution requires some heavy lifting initially and will require a period of time with increased focus and support in order to prime the pump and ensure the acceptance and culture change required for the long term acceptance of the collaborative partnerships and breaking down the silos.


The keys to the success of this initiative is the support from senior management, both publicly and privately of the initiative, the acceptance and buy-in of the lower level employees in the organization (the line workers) and the commitment from senior management to act on the suggestions from the teams.  The commitment to act on the suggestions requires implementation of the suggestions.  This is where the miracle occurs; the acceptance of senior management is displayed through the implementation of the team suggestions and the implementation of the team suggestions encourages the team to develop new improvement suggestions.  Simple right?   


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

Active participation by your collaboration partners is a critical ingredient to the continued success of your partnership.  Active participation by your collaboration partners is also a critical ingredient to the delivery of value from your collaboration partnership.  Active participation from you collaboration partners comes in all different shapes and sizes which must be coordinated and focused on the aspects of the partnership and that strengthen the partnerships and also deliver value to the partnerships.  Active participation from your partners must be encouraged and nurtured and directed though to deliver on the promise. 


Participation must be encouraged from many different aspects and the participation develops a web of support requiring coordination and maintenance in order to remain strong and support the needs of the partnerships.  I like the web analogy because it describes a framework that can be expanded as necessary and would be somewhat self-correcting and able to redirect the support while any break in the web is repaired.  The web of support provides a flexible framework along with the ability to expand and change when your needs grow and your partnerships grow.  The web of support can be expanded or strengthened easily without wholesale replacement.  The critical aspect of the web analogy is that it allows and even requires support from all levels of the partner organizations, from senior leadership to the line workers.


Another key ingredient to the success and continued support of the participation at all levels of the organizations and partnerships is open and honest communications.  I’ve covered the importance of open and honest communications previously and I keep coming back to this because I believe very strongly that this is the bedrock requirement.  Along with the open and honest communications is the requirement to embrace and incorporate the results of the communication.  The incorporation of the suggestions and results of the open and honest communications is critical at all levels of the organization and partnership for the continued open and honest communications.  Think about it, why would partner in the relationship continue to wholeheartedly embrace the open and honest communications when they feel that it is a one way street?


Open and honest communications provides the resilience and the glue that connect the pieces of the web and allow you to fabricate new pieces to the web.  In order to maintain the resilience and the glue, the open and honest communications must be embraced by the senior leadership and this includes encouraging and accepting and incorporating the response and suggestions from the front-line associates.  The strength of the resilience and glue greatly depends on the actions and perceptions of the partners.  The partners must accept and incorporate the suggestions from the participants, no matter the level of participant in order to maintain and grow the support and participation.  It is critical to the success of the partnership that this acceptance and encouragement is maintained.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

The extended supply chain is increasing in complexity as a result of the increase in discontinuous change.  As I’ve mentioned many times, the increase in discontinuous change has been increasing and will continue to increase as a result of the increased impact of technology on personal and professional aspects of everyday life.  This increase in discontinuous change will continue to expand and drive complexity into everyone’s life, including your extended supply chain.    One result of the increase in complexity will lead to an increase in costs to support that additional complexity.  The key results of the increased discontinuous change and increased level of complexity within your extended supply chain is an increased risk of failures in your everyday supply chain execution along with your improvement initiatives. 


You will never overcome the increased complexity in your extended supply chain.  You can however address the complexity head on and one method to address increasing complexity in your supply chain is through a strong collaborative partnership program.  This strong collaborative partnership program will be the provide the key to taking advantage of the increased discontinuous change and the related increase in complexity.  This collaborative partnership will extend your reach and provide additional experience and expertise to help to overcome the complexities that will surely come about.  I see the increase in complexity to be a direct result of the increase in discontinuous change. 


Your collaborative partners will provide the basis and framework to address the complexity through the implementation and maintenance of a robust continuous improvement program.  This continuous improvement program will be the vehicle to drive and achieve the value that can be obtained through the effective utilization of your partners.  This continuous improvement program will in fact be the critical factor to obtaining the benefits and continued support of your collaborative partners.  I would suggest that without a robust continuous improvement program and the support of your collaborative partners your chances of continued success are dramatically reduced.  I would also suggest that a robust continuous improvement program will provide the framework and the foundation to ensure and encourage the open and honest communications across and among your collaborative partners.


The continuous improvement program will encourage your collaborative partners to participate and will also encourage the acceptance and support from all levels of the partner organizations.  The continuous improvement program must, however, include and encourage the participation from all levels of the partner organizations to be successful.  One benefit of this continuous improvement framework is the opportunity for participation from the floor to the senior leadership level.  In fact the most beneficial continuous improvement programs are built upon the participation and support of all levels of the participating organizations.  In future entries I will discuss methods to encourage the participation and areas that I believe will benefit the most from this continuous improvement program.    


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

Like any major undertaking collaboration requires planning to be successful and a critical aspect of this planning is developing and exit strategy.  The simple fact of the matter is that it is unreasonable to think that everyone entering into the partnership will remain a member of the partnership. This exit strategy will define how a collaboration partner can leave the partnership and what steps will be taken from both sides to end the partnership.  The collaborative partnership will not end if one or two partners leave and you must think about this potential separation when entering into a partnership agreement. 


Every professional relationship should begin with an agreement that covers both the beginning of the relationship and the requirements for ending the relationship.  I’ve discussed previously the importance of open and honest communications with your partners and the formal agreement provides the foundation framework for this communication.  This agreement will provide for the smooth entry into the collaborative partnership along with a smooth exit from the partnership.  It is important to define these criteria and expectations early on in the partnership in order to limit any misunderstandings as the partnership progresses.  As I mention above, not all of your partners entering into the relationship will remain, some will inevitably decide that the partnership or the collaboration does not bring the benefits that they originally anticipated.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and it is just a fact of the relationship. 


However, the initial agreement and then the initial entry into the partnership will be much stronger with these entry and exit criteria clearly defined.  The time to discuss and clarify any expectations is at the beginning of the agreement.  This will allow all sides to clearly define their expectations when entering the agreement and it allows all sides to clearly define the exit criteria and steps when terminating the agreement.  This type of agreement should be standard across all partners and as modifications and improvements are made to the agreement the modifications should be extended to all of the partners.  This will be critical as new partners enter the collaboration network and existing partners exit the network.  Each time you must expect a new condition to be identified and when that occurs it is important to revise the network agreement to support the new conditions. 


As with any other activity you must institute a continuous improvement program to support your partnership agreement.  The agreement provides your guidelines, or guard rails, to support your network and these guidelines must include your principles of operations.  Remember this agreement lays the foundation for your communications and when you start the agreement with open communications your partnership will have a strong foundation for growth and delivering the anticipated benefits.  


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

tbrouill

Hurdles To Change

Posted by tbrouill May 13, 2014

While a collaborative change culture can be one of the single greatest influences on positive continuous change, there are many hurdles that must be overcome in order to achieve and maintain this culture.  The key challenge to overcoming these hurdles is the fact that these hurdles must be continuously monitored to ensure that you do not fall into the bad practice, this is not a ‘one and done’ process but a continuous process to ensure that you do not fall into the bad practices. A key to overcoming the hurdles and ensuring you don’t fall back into these bad practices is to focus on sustainable gains and focus on the hurdles that will keep you from these sustainable gains, your goal in this is to maintain a mutually beneficial collaboration objectives.


These hurdles can be categorized into a couple of groups; the first is represented holistically by a basic lack of interest and the second is a negative attitude.  These groups are nothing new, I know, and we’ve all seen them time after time.  These are truly a human nature reaction to change and as such, these reactions are the fall-back, or first response to the suggestion of change.  I recognize these two groups through the verbalized reaction to change suggestions. 


You can recognize the lack of interest group because their reaction to the suggestion of change is ‘all you have to do’.  What I mean by this is the reaction projects the belief that there is no need for a change because ‘all you have to do’ is take into account the fill-in-the-blank group.  You may see this reaction come out and various stages of your initiative and by various means.  You will need to be vigilant to identify this reaction and attitude in general to ensure that your initiative does not get diverted or killed all together.  I believe that you must address this hurdle head on and immediately so that it does not needlessly delay the initiative.  I also believe that you must address this hurdle head on and as quickly as it begins and you can address this by asking questions and implementing the responses.  In other words, you should react with leading questions such as; who should we engage that has done this?  How should we change or revise our change initiative to ensure we include the group or the suggestion?


The second hurdle, a negative attitude, is a little more difficult to overcome.  This hurdle can come about both openly and passively.  We’ve all experienced these hurdles and the most difficult to overcome is the passive negative attitude.  Again, I believe that this hurdle must be addressed head on and in fact it is the flip side of the first hurdle ‘all you have to do’. 


These hurdles are also a reaction to the fear of change that must be overcome with any initiative.  This is where your collaborative partners can help with overcoming these hurdles.  Sometimes it is easier to overcome a hurdle or challenge when you are either supported by a partner, or addressing the hurdle will help your partner overcome a challenge.  Remember my reference to the 12 step program, your partners can help you overcome your hurdles and I believe this is a critical aspect of building your collaborative partnerships.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

tbrouill

Change Collaboration

Posted by tbrouill May 11, 2014

I think that the single greatest method to ensure that your change initiative develops into a culture of change is the encouragement and support that you will obtain from your collaborative partners.  Every influential change and reinvention that you take on in your life is naturally at risk of success and one of the greatest influencer of success is the support and encouragement of your partners, both external and internal.  Think about it, when you are dieting there is nothing more supportive of your efforts than the encouragement and support you receive from your friends and family.  It only follows then that your change initiative can maintain a higher likelihood of success through the encouragement and support of your collaborative partners.  I don’t think there is a more powerful source of encouragement than the desire to not disappoint and let your partners down.             


This is one more soft benefit that you realize through a robust collaborative partnership.  However this powerful benefit can only be achieved through accepting and achieving an open and honest collaborative partnership.  These benefits will grow and multiply as your collaborative partnerships grow and prosper.  You can also begin to achieve these benefits with your initial collaborative partnership agreement.  This agreement lays the foundation for support and encouragement to meet the goals and objectives of the partnership.  These initial goals set the change in motion and the regular review, revisions and course corrections that are made during that initial initiative to implement these goals and objectives provides the proof of concept necessary to validate the benefits that can be achieved through the change collaboration framework.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing the regular collaborative partnership meetings and planning sessions to a twelve step meeting.  These business collaborative partnership meetings should be viewed more along the lines of a software users convention.  In fact, I think this may be the best comparison of a collaborative partnership framework and the type of benefits that can be achieved through a change collaboration continuous improvement program.  A software user group and the annual convention provide a comparative framework to frame your collaborative partnership practices.  The regular collaborative partners meeting would be the arena to discuss strategic direction and improvements and the convention would provide the arena to show off the benefits achieved and also a place to encourage new members to join the collaborative partnership.


Let me wrap this up by reiterating my point of ensuring change through a change collaboration continuous improvement initiative.  The support and encouragement that you will gain through your active collaborative partners will provide the framework and basis to deliver not only your initial change initiative but also help you to implement a continuous change framework across your collaborative partnerships that will provide the basis for implementing and ensuring a change collaboration culture that will drive your success in the future.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

tbrouill

Long Term Change

Posted by tbrouill May 8, 2014

Long term change can be better described as embracing and encouraging change.  If the ‘secret’ to success is an organization’s ability to reinvent itself as times and circumstances change, then it only stands to reason that in order to remain successful you must embrace a practice of change for the long term.  Every success theory or story starts with an organization embracing change  and then every success story ends with the discussion on the benefits achieved by the organization as a result of the change initiative.  At this point I suggest that the storey is just beginning.  The next three months, six months, two years, ten years down the road are the critical points to measure the success of the change initiative.


Any major change initiative is just the beginning of what should be a new culture in the organization.  This new culture should embrace and carry forward the change principles that will carry your organization forward.  Forecasting the future is impossible because of all of the variables, both internal and external, that are driving both your business and the market.  We see the forecast cycles compressing as time progresses and that is due to the fact that the internal and external variables can impact and change the forecast in shorter and shorter timeframes.  Your change initiative drives both hard benefits that bring direct value to your organization and your collaborative partners organizations.  Your change initiative also drives soft benefits which while they may not bring hard values, they can however bring long lasting practices or a framework that encourages delivery of hard dollar value in the future.


I would compare this to the ‘Kitchen Impossible’ show projects.  The show selects a restaurant that is failing and reinvents the business from menu to layout and decorations to give the business a new start on a solid footing.  This makes for a great one hour episode but I am always left wondering ‘Did the change stick?’  My interest lies in how did the business embrace the change principles that were used to guide the make over.  These change principles are based on addressing the failures that caused the business to fall into the death spiral in the first place.  It is good entertainment to show how a business can be re-built but I think the critical factor for that business is whether the business embraced the principles that would allow the business to identify improvements and continuously rebuild their business.


I have been strongly promoting continuous improvement as the method that will ensure the principles that will ensure current and future success are embraced as a key principles of operation.  This practice is the only thing that will ensure the continued success of your initiative.  A key soft benefit of any enterprise change initiative is the embracing of the change principles and the incorporation of these change principles in a continuous improvement program.  The first objective of the initiative should rightly be the delivery of the value and dollar benefits and a close second should be the implementation of the change principles in a continuous improvement program.                     


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

 

 

Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

tbrouill

Fighting Change

Posted by tbrouill May 4, 2014

The most difficult aspect to maintaining a change initiative fighting the hidden hurdles to the change.  These hidden hurdles come in two flavors; one is the comfort people within the organization developed towards the legacy behavior and the second is the tendency of any organization to move to a state of lethargy.  In other words, you must fight against the tendency of people to both not want to change and also the tendency for people to just stop maintaining the initiative, or entropy.  Both of these tendencies can and will cause your change initiative to fail.


Let me take these two aspects one at a time and in the order you will encounter them.  The first aspect then is to overcome the tendency of people within the organization to fight change.  To put this in another way people and organizations are comfortable with the status quo and they must be ‘encouraged’ to change, either by making the current environment so uncomfortable that the animosity towards change is less work than maintaining the status quo, or by the actions and encouragement of a fire starter to guide people within the organization to the change.  I suggest that this aspect is the least difficult to overcome because you have an open activity that your actions and plans can address,  This is what I refer to in my previous discussion as the tip of the iceberg.  The reason why I say this is because these challenges are visible and these challenges are also most probably the least of your worries.


The second aspect, I firmly believe, is the more difficult to overcome.  This aspect is the tendency towards entropy.  This aspect can be the result of two reactions to the change; the first is the push back or the tendency for people fight change.  The second can be the result of two reactions that be manifested separately or combined; one reaction is the tendency of an organization or people towards entropy through lack of maintenance, the second reaction is the unspoken fight, or passive aggressive type behavior people have to change.  I refer to this aspect as the iceberg that is below the surface because this represents the greatest threat to the success of any change initiative.  This is the aspect that you must spend both the greatest amount of time to counter, and this will also represent the longest duration aspect of your change initiative.  I believe that you will be surprised at how easily people will fall back into their old habits and cause the change to fail.  You must be vigilant against this aspect for longer than you may anticipate.


There used to be a commercial for Fram Oil Filters with the tagline ‘pay me now or pay me later’ and the point was that your cost would be much less to perform regular and continuous maintenance.  I recommend the same attention be paid to maintaining your change initiative.  Your costs will be much lower and your success rate will be much higher.                       

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

tbrouill

Maintaining Change

Posted by tbrouill May 3, 2014

The most successful method to ensure that change ‘sticks’ in your organization is the ‘burn the bridge’ concept, or eliminate previous methods and processes.  However as I mentioned previously this is only a part of the equation to maintaining the change of course because people will always tend to move back to their areas of comfort.  This is where the stamina and dynamic personality traits come into play.  This is where the stamina, and a healthy dose of patience, is required to push through the challenges to maintaining the change.  This continuing, or more appropriately post change implementation, maintenance and support is the key to success.


You must always remember that you are creating new habits, customs, methods and procedures and this requires a continuous review and reinforcement program.  Institutional change requires regular reinforcement for two reasons, the first and most critical initial reason is that you must reinforce and even continue to reinforce the change procedures, the second and most critical long term reason is the implementation and  maintenance of a continuous improvement program.  Each of these reasons and reinforcement is critical to the success of your change initiative and you will also find that each of these reasons will come into play simultaneously.  However the level of focus will transition as the change initiative becomes institutionalized from more heavily weighted towards reinforcement of procedures initially to the continuous and on-going improvements of the procedures.


In order to ensure the likelihood of success of your change initiative, you should think of the initiative as an iceberg.  What I mean by this is that the effort to define and implement the change is the part of the iceberg visible above water and the maintenance and on-going support, or continuous improvement, of the change is the majority of effort that is under water and invisible.  I like this analogy because it also conveys the sense of importance and level of effort related to the on-going maintenance and support of your institutional change.  Each of these activities and focus of effort are equally important, the initial focus of reinforcement and training is critical to give the change initiative the opportunity to deliver the planned initial value and improvements, the on-going continuous improvement procedures and practice are critical to ensure the continued success and value of the change.


Make no mistake, though, if you short change the effort and focus to support the change going forward your change initiative will wither and die.  This on-going maintenance of the change is absolutely critical to the success and also to the reputation and acceptance of the leadership.  It is much worse to allow the change initiative to die a slow and quiet death than to fail in the initial implementation.  The slow and quiet death delivers and reinforces a message that the senior leadership and the fire starters and ineffective and their strategy failed.  This message allows and encourages the organization to lose trust and confidence in the value and judgement of the leadership.  The worst case scenario in this slow failure is the failure and demise of the organization.                             

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?

Change agent is the common phrase or description for that person that leads, or is a key contributor to a  change initiative.  I suggest that a more appropriate term would be ‘Fire Starter’ because I think it provides a more descriptive term for the activities required to implement and institutionalize change.  In thinking about the tools and the traits that are necessary to engage an organization in a successful redefinition the term fire starter conveys to me the drive, initiative and perseverance necessary to successfully institutionalize a major overhaul of an organization or implementation of major new systems or processes.  Another implication that would not be too much of a stretch is that fire starter could also refer to the practice of burning the bridges so there is no way back from the change.

                          It seems to me that an institutional change initiative requires excitement and drive to lead and coorce through the ups and downs that will be experienced with any institutional change.  In order to encourage the organization through the highs and the lows the agent must be dynamic, visionary and creative.  Another key trait is a level of stamina that will be extremely necessary in order to sustain and drive the initiative through the highs and the lows.  This in short is why I suggest that a more appropriate name would be fire starter - it convey a dynamic, visionary and creative individual with the stamina to maintain the institutional change.


This leads me to another aspect implied by the name fire starter and that as I mentioned previously is the practice of burning the bridges to the previous methods and practices to ensure there is no way back from the change.  An institutional change is both hard to implement and then after implementation it is difficult to maintain until the new methods become ingrained in the practices of the institution.  Let’s face it, change is hard and there will always be people that, for whatever reason, will tend to push back to the previous practices.  The fire starter must be aware of these tendencies and also provide the encouragement to maintain the commitment to the new practices and procedures.  I’m a big believer in the practice of burning the bridge behind you so there is no way to fall back to the previous practices.


This ‘burn the bridge’ concept is only a part of the equation to maintaining the change of course because people will always tend to move back to their areas of comfort.  This is where the stamina and dynamic personality traits come into play.  When I combine these traits together I think you can see why I suggest that the more appropriate name for this person is fire starter.  I understand that a name does not mean that you will be successful, however sometimes a name conveys the concept that allows you to maintain and generate the interest necessary to be successful.                             

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?