Appreciating Systems

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D x V x F > R and the Stages of #Change

July 4th, 2011 Posted in Change Tags: , , ,

Reading again about this formula for change, it occurred to me that there’s a strong parallel with the stages of changes I recently posted about.

The formula goes this way: D x V x F > R where

  • D = Dissatisfaction with current situation
  • V = Vision for a preferred future as compared to current situation
  • F = First steps to do to start the change
  • R = natural Resistance to change

So, for any change to occur, all elements needs to be superior to zero or the change will simply not be possible.

The link I did with Stages of Change is in the order of the factors in the formula. Indeed, the initial stages of changes are:

  • Pre-contemplation stage where people don’t see any need for a change (= they’re satisfied with current situation)
  • Contemplation stage (people see the need for a change but are ambivalent about changing)
  • Preparation stage (people are committed to changing, but need help in preparing an action plan)

(The other stages are Action, Maintenance and Relapse but relate to the ongoing change or after change has been done).

To each of these stages correspond different strategies to engage people in the change (italic is a quote from Wikipedia)

  • people in the Pre-contemplation stage “typically underestimate the Pros of changing, overestimate the Cons, and often are not aware of making such mistakes. These individuals are encouraged to become more mindful of their decision-making and more conscious of the multiple benefits of changing an unhealthy behavior.” Isn’t this helping them raising their Dissatisfaction with current situation?
  • people in the Contemplation stage “learn about the kind of person they could be if they changed their behavior and learned more from people who behave in healthy ways. They’re encouraged to work at reducing the Cons of changing their behavior.” Isn’t this helping them defining their Vision of a preferred situation?
  • people in the Preparation stage “are encouraged to seek support from friends they trust, tell people about their plan to change the way the act, and think about how they would feel if they behaved in a healthier way. Their number one concern is—when they act, will they fail? They learn that the better prepared they are the more likely they are to keep progressing.” Isn’t this helping them build an Action Plan and First Steps to initiate the change? (with support from relatives)

I don’t know if one author quote the other in these different works, but there are clearly relations between one and the other.

Of course, how to provide that help is what most of this blog is about: explaining, teaching and coaching in various approaches. My last lines of thought clearly are more of the coaching side and raising intrinsic motivation in people, using, for instance, Motivational Interviewing.

Using Motivational Interviewing to elicit change under constraint (#change #lean @biggerplate #mindmap)

I’ve just finished a wonderful ebook on “Motivational Interviewing in Probation” (see my links on my delicious account) and it appeared to me that this skill may very well be suited for Lean Coaches when they don’t have the opportunity to coach top management but are asked to “do Lean” in the company.

Most of the time, managers are asked to “do Lean” and this very request triggers their change resistance upon arrival of the loca Lean expert (coach). As each managers may be on a different stage of the change model (see my previous article on Stages of Change Model), the coach should be addressing each of them differently. This mindmap explains how.

Use your new MI skills to achieve that and tell me how it works. Warning: it may look easy, but it’s some hard and live intellectual work. But who said Lean was easy anyway? 🙂

See the uploaded MI on Probation mindmap on Biggerplate here.

The happy complexity of organizational productivity (#lean #solutionfocus #appreciativeinquiry #systemsthinking #positive #psychology)

I’ve been reading that article in Havard Business Review about “The power of small wins” (paying article) and somehow some things felt down together in place:

  • Lean management and any continuous productivity improvement approach for that matter
  • Solution Focus
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Positive Psychology
  • Happiness (at work)

Read more »

A #systemsthinking explanation of lack of respect for people (fundamental #lean pillar)

I have recently finished reading this excellent paper from Raul Espejo regarding the law of requisite variety: “Giving Requisite Variety to Strategic and Implementation Processes: Theory and Practice“. Espejo is a person to read if you’re interested in the Viable System Model (see corresponding articles on this blog and my delicious bookmarks on VSM) as created by Stafford Beer.

In this paper, Espejo make the stunning comment that (I quote, emphasis mine, excerpted from page 3):

“[…] many organisations are still driven by the hierarchical paradigm that assumes the distinctions made at the top are the only relevant ones, which implies that people at lower levels are there only to implement them, but not to make distinctions of their own. Therefore the assumption is that the complexity of a senior manager is much greater than that of a professional in the production line. Somehow it is assumed that people at the top have much bigger brains than those working at ‘lower’ levels. Since they don’t, the space of creative action at ‘lower levels has had to be reduced. The assumption becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. This becomes manifest when power is exercised by enforcing distinctions made at corporate levels to construct a limited context of action for the majority in the organisation.”

The last emphasized sentence is insightful for me: “The assumption becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy”. What is meant is that with top management having a mental model of having bigger brains than people at lower hierarchical levels, they take on more decisions than people below them. This mental model then hinders learning from the very people that top management would probably want to have bigger brain but that they prevent them from developing… Management complains about employees being cogs in the machine, but, because they think they are, they remove every opportunity for them to turn back to being human and use their brain, which makes them further into cogs.

Another case of espoused-theory vs. theory-in-use, I guess.

In Lean, we say that management should act as coaches to their reporting collaborators and don’t give them answers (we even encourage management to let their employees fail in order to learn). It may be slower on the short-term, but probably the best way to grow them and increase productivity and morale in the longer term.

How many times today have you solved someone else’s problem?

I hope you’ll solve less tomorrow…

Increasing your change management skills with Motivational Interviewing (a new #mindmap on @biggerplate)

I just uploaded this mindmap on BiggerPlate here.

MI is an ecological way to elicit change motivation and action in people that may have been resisting it in the first place. A perfect skill to master, IMHO, for any change leader or change agent (including Lean management!).

Best of all, it fits very well with Solution Focus, as I have already said previously.

What have you done recently to help people around you accept change?

Redirecting attention from negative to positive in 3 small steps (P->C->O) (a @doingwhatworks blogpost, useful for #Lean change?)

Another great article from Coert Visser about overcoming the so-called “resistance to change”:

Doing What Works in Solution-Focused Change: Redirecting attention from negative to positive in 3 small steps (P->C->O).

Often, a Lean program (or any change program for that matter) is being imposed on people by upper management. Hopefully, most of the time, management asks what need to be achieved, but not necessarily how it needs to be done.

That P>C>O method looks useful when people don’t want the change being imposed on them (Lean for that matter). It indeed means that they want something to change: the contraint being imposed on them!

So that a nice way to reframe their “resistance” and transform it into something they want more of.

As I’ve read elsewhere on contrained change: rather than work on the imposed change when the person needing to change does not want to, work on the contraint itself: “what can we do to get some relief from this imposed changed on you?”.

And then the talk can go into another direction.

 

Erick Erickson Stages of Growth #mindmap uploaded on @biggerplate

June 10th, 2011 Posted in Personal Development Tags: ,

Photo of Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson has identified a number of growth stages. These could be used by management as a way to increase efficiency of their relations with employees.

The map’s available here.

This post also inaugurates my “Personal development” category!

(When I write such a short post it means that:

  • the topic has deeply enough interested me so I moved myself to mention it
  • I’ll probably write a more detailed blog post on how this fit with my other topics of interest in this blog. Stay tuned! (hint: use the RSS-force)

)

Can #Lean be helped by Self-Determination Theory and #SolutionFocus? (a @doingwhatworks paper)

From that very interesting (as is most often the case from Coert Visser!) paper here, I derive the following insights:

Lean on the motivation continuum

Self -Determination Theory (SDT) has is that motivation can be expressed on a continuum from “amotivation” to “intrinsic motivation” with three basic human needs: autonomy, competence and relatedness (all things that are also found in Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs and the notion of Flow from Mihaly_Csikszentmihalyi).

Lean appears to be well on these three pillars of motivation:

  • autonomy is high in an environment where management does not solve the problem of their collaborators, but instead coach them to resolution.
  • this coaching leads to increased competence on the work and on the process of continuous improvement itself, along with a better knowledge of how the organization works (through A3 problem solving for instance which fosters nemawashi – japanese term for: go see all stakeholders and work with them)
  • by doing nemawashi with all stakeholders, people get their relatedness level increased!

On motivating people to do Lean

Visser’s paper continues, on page 13, on the way Motivational Interviewing can help a professionnal helper (!) with their client, as would be the case of a Lean coach in any organization (please bear in mind that I talk of a coach, not a consultant whose approach is different). In this regard, MI is based on 4 general principles:

  • the expression of empathy
  • the development of discrepancy
  • rolling with resistance and
  • support for self-efficacy

Considering what I often saw in organizations with respect to Change and Lean more specifically, I’d say that:

  • Lean change approaches are often law on empathy: “all your problems are belong to us, we’ll you help solve them”,
  • with a development of discrepancy that more than often consist in management or co-called coaches finger pointing faults in those running the processes,
  • a rolling with resistance that consists of stomping it for it’s the proof of ignorance in Lean matters and that so-called Lean coaches and experts know better (which is indeed true as for Lean things, but blatantly false  with respect to people’s own Gemba),
  • and support of efficacy is most of the time seen as Lean consultants (whoops I should have said ‘coaches’ 😉 doing most of the job themselves (deciding on what the Future State Map for instance should look like) with only partial accounting for people’s ideas.

What I described above, though caricatural (or is it?) is still what’s even been given a name: L.A.M.E. (Lean As Misguidedly Executed).

The paper goes on starting from page 14 on some suggested questions to addresse the four principles above to move someone in the needed change direction, but with proper respect for their motivation and of them as people, by helping find how they could be engaged with the change initiative.

Reflection questions:

  • As a CEO, how engaged are your collaborators in the Lean initiative? What have you done to motivate them and engage them, as persons, in it?
  • As a Lean coach, how have you addressed management’s willing to do Lean? What questions did you asked them as for their own needed change with respect to Lean (that is, Lean should be done by management with collaborators, not to collaborators)?


Carl Rogers concepts #mindmap: a reminder of coaching attitude for #change and #Lean #management

I’ve just uploaded a mindmap out of material I’ve scouted on the net: Carl Rogers concepts MindManager Map.

I find Carl Rogers position toward people very interesting and something terribly necessary to have in mind when considering changing organizations (either using Lean or Systems Thinking), because it reminds us that:

  • things did not occurred out of nothing
  • the system (organization) is perfectly adapted to do what it does (hence the difficulty of changing it)
  • everything currently being done makes sense to the people working inside the system

It reminds me of that Socrates quote: “All I know is that I know nothing“.

All of this is highly impregnated of Systems Thinking stuff: people adapt to their environment (the system around them), which allows them to change it for their own purpose, which will retro-act on themselves. It concludes that people are adapted to the variety of the system around them and, corolarly, that someone outside of the system can’t have the requisite variety. So it’s a necessity to be unconditionnally accepting of the collaborators.

Also, because a change is perceived as a threat (whether consciously or not), a perfectly safe environment must be set up (between the coach and the manager or the manager and the employees) for the new experience to be integrated and make sense of. This environment mwill be in the relationships established between employees and their management.

 

#SolutionFocus approach to continuous improvement in #Lean

To my readers, it’s no news that so-called “kaizen events” (or more precisely, kaikaku) work.

It’s also no news that continuous improvement (CI) after such events is hard to sustain.

That’s where Solution Focus comes into play. Reading the excellent blog of Coert Visser the other day, it occurred to me that I had misunderstood something in the SF approach. That of the type of solution being searched for.

In-between

Yes. SF does not look for a concrete solution such as a new method of doing things, a new tool or a new widget. It’s even stated in the underlying principles: S.I.M.P.L.E:

  • Solutions – not problems
  • In-between – the solution is in the interaction
  • Make use of what’s there, not what isn’t
  • Possibilities – past, present and Future
  • Language – simply said
  • Every case is different

My insight occurred in the “I“: solutions are in the interaction between people. I should have read the book more carefully. Moreover, SF comes from psychotherapy and is rooted in social constructionism, that should have raised my awareness… A psychoanalysis would probably link that to my IT engineering education… Well, whatever:)

A Solution Focus Approach to Continuous Improvement

Solution Focus framework

Solution Focus framework

So, what would a Solution Focus approach to “continuous improvement not working” be?

Well, let’s turn to the framework (see side picture).

  1. Move from Problem to Platform. What we have is people not taking care of continuous improvement, so what we do want is people constantly taking care of CI.
  2. What’s the Future Perfect? An ideal outcome would be that the team manager takes the CI as a way of life (or at least managing his team) and do it all the time in all situations.
  3. Scaling: where are we today? Well, it depends on the team!
  4. Counters / Know-How: what are the resources, skills, know-how and expertise that will count in getting us toward the solution (I’m quoting here the excellent and foundational book “The Solution Focus” that brought SF to organizations). Please mind the underlying part, which corresponds to the “In-between” of SIMPLE above.
  5. Affirm whatever the people are already doing toward the solution: recognize and value it.
  6. What Small Actions could you do right now to move up one level on the scale toward the Future Perfect?

Again, my insight regarding CI is in step 4 that deals with:

  • resources brought to a situation (that is, put in the interaction between people)
  • skills put to the service of the desired outcome / future perfect
  • know-how which also relates to behaviors
  • and expertise, also put to use in the situation

So, the learning here for me is that we should not be looking at new tools or some fancy visual management (though it might helps sometimes) to sustain continuous improvement, but really look after the way the manager is enacting CI in her behavior and her interactions with her team.

I’ve all too often seen visual performance management not being acted upon and slowly disappearing under dust because management was lacking the proper behavior toward it.

You can improve without visual management, but you can’t improve without doing things and displaying some improvement related behavior. Of course, when the two are used together, their effectiveness is far more powerful than used alone.

So, what is the solution?

Ok, so we know what team leaders must do: show, in their interactions, that they care about CI. What help does this solution gives us? My answer is:

Absolutely none.

Yes, you’ve read it properly. This solution at which we arrived is of no help for at least two reasons:

  • It doesn’t gives us details at what, precisely, needs to be done.
  • It’s been devised out of the gemba, so it’s worthless because it’s deconnected to the real reality (speaking in systems thinking terms, one would say that it does not have requisite variety)

The real solution is that we need to pass team leaders through the Solution Focus framework and have them come to the same kind of solution. They need to find their own answers to questions such as:

  • What, for you, works for keeping people interested to continuous improvement?
  • What worked before (or is working now) for keeping people working on a specific topic?
  • What worked before (or is working now) for keeping yourself working on a specific topic?

Please beware: the last question is a treacherous one as the team leader will probably reply that her manager constantly reminded her of that very topic to be kept on top on the priority list…

We, as Lean coaches or consultants, need to constantly remind ourselves that team leaders not only need to grow their own visual performance management board, but also their own way of acting and enacting a behavior that fosters continuous improvement. Although it’s longer and sometimes tougher than to decide that in place of them, it’s also the only way that does not raise the so-called “change resistance” that we always find on our (and their’s) path.

What’s next?

Well, now, we know what needs to be done on the part of team leaders. To be more precise, we knew it before, but I feel it’s a new way to go look for ways to finally achieve improvements that are really continuous.

 

 

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