TLS Continuum Part 11: Clash Point: I See but I Don't feel

This past week has been full of events in our world that makes one stop and consider just where we are going. Beginning with the horrific shootings in Charleston, the shooting of law enforcement officers and the apology at the sentencing trial of the Boston Bomber we see examples of situations where we as a global community we see our problems but we do not take it to the next step – we don’t feel the problem. Do not take the above statements incorrectly. I am not condoning the actions of either individual. What I am saying is that we have a tendency in the global marketplace to jump to level blame without thinking it completely through. If a process is broken, it is the fault of the operator. If our children don’t learn it is the fault of the teacher.

We need to understand that the change process involves three interdependent steps. First we need to see the problem but we need to do so in a manner that is rooted in evidence based proof. We need to see the problem from the basis of what is occurring not what we think is occurring.  We feel something is not right. We see the problem is in front of us. The downside of this discussion is that that is far as we take it. We complain bitterly about this problem or that but we don’t take action to correct the situation.

In order to take action we must feel the problem.  We cannot respond by saying it someone else’s problem to deal with. If the process is not working why is it not working. What is the customer asking for we are not delivering. If the student is not learning what in the learning process is broken. We must learn how to understand the effects of the problem on the stakeholders of the process. If this is a problem, then what is the direct result of the current method that we are using? Both Chip and Dan Heath in their book Decisive and Josh Berger in his book Contagious, make reference to the factory manager who discovered that the factory used 42 different gloves from a number of vendors and varying prices. He saw the problem. Management did not see the problem nor did they feel it.  The manager accumulated 42 pairs of gloves from the factory floor, labeled each with the price and then piled them on the boardroom conference table. He then asked upper management to meet him in the boardroom. When they walked in they saw this pile of gloves and saw the problem in that they were ordering gloves from multiple vendors with multiple prices. They felt that problem in seeing its effects on the cost of doing business. Once we resolve the clash point we can begin to make the necessary problems to remove the problems.

Here are the top 5 ways to remove the clash point:

1)     Go and See the problemget out of your corner office you worked so hard to obtain and spend time with the human capital assets and see the problems first hand. Watch the process and see where the roadblocks are.

2)     Ask, Don’t tellListen to your human capital assets for they know how the processes work or don’t work. Honor their input for they will make the world a better place.

3)     Focus on the process – Look really close at how your process works. Are you doing something that you can’t remember why you are doing it? Ask yourself how does this {process, procedure, action, initiative, project, and policy} help the organization achieve its business objective? If you can’t answer this in a clear way that is measureable and where there is evidence that your answer is true, stop doing it.

4)     Failure is not a four-letter word – We enhance our organizations through innovation. We only innovate when we experiment and find a better way. We should not be penalizing our human capital assets by lowering performance ratings because they tried a better way and failed.

5)     Meet the customer – Similar to the Go and See the problem, visit your external stakeholders and determine what they need, where the organization is letting them down and how to correct the issue.

While there examples in the global marketplace of organizations that get it, the vast majority of organizations do not. We are quick to level blame without the sound basis of verifiable data to conclude that we see the problem but also feel the effect of the problem on the organization and its customers.  We need to learn how to go beyond the blame game and strive to truly solve the process issues we are confronted with.

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