I love solving problems. Moreover, I also love finding solutions and making scaffolding theories. Yet, I feel there’s a big problem behind such tendencies: the more you work at a solution on your own, the more prefect it seems to be, then the more resistance you’re probably going to generate when you go out to the world for implementing your solution. Here’s why.
On the diagram on the right, start at the “Pressing problem” part and follow the arrows.
- First the R1 loop (for Reinforcing). This really looks like what you’re all trying to do: you have (good!) solutions, and try to make people adhere to them. I think it’s mostly doomed to fail. The problem entices you to think about a solution which you will mostly want to advocate, thereby triggering a conflict with people’s different world views (because they haven’t got a change to think to your problem themselves), which more probably will result in others rejecting the solution you pushed onto them, thereby lowering the chances that actions are taken to solve the initial problem, in the end, making the problem all the more pressing.
- The R2 loop is similar, only that is goes through your working out the solution increasing your own conviction that it’s a good one (because you’re adapting your mind to it).
- The R3 loop is what prevents the whole system to come to a solution that would suit each and every one of us. continuing from the conviction that your solution is a good one, you (maybe unconsciously) decrease your willingness to give time to others to contribute to your building a solution, meaning that they indeed won’t work in a commonly built solution, indeed decreasing the chances (or number) of commonly built solutions, which adds up to the lack of actions taken to solve the problem, thereby making the problem a pressing one.
How to change that situation?
My intuition is that we should redirect energy flowing from the “pressing problem” to “thinking about a solution” (dotted blue arrow) directly to “others participate in a commonly built solution” (the green dotted arrow, mostly non existent at the time, or so it seems to me?). Doing such an action would suppress R1 and R2 loops and R3 would be shortened and more importantly replaced by a Balancing loop, meaning the more you work on a commonly built solution, the less there will be pressing problems.
A global organization to support commonly built solutions
The reflection above came out of a context related to finding global solutions to world pressing problem (mostly in the SEE fields: Social, Economical and Ecological). The Commons is all but one of the concepts meant at addressing these global issues. I’m not saying Management of the Commons is a bad solution. Indeed I even think of the opposite. But I think people working on such a solution should also start worrying about how they would have their solution adopted by lay people at a global level.
Here’s one of many web pages discussing the concept of the commons: Growing the Commons as Meta-narrative?
So, how to create that green dotted arrow, for me, is through a worldwide helping/supporting organization (be it the United Nations or else) that would facilitate concrete resolution of problems locally, regionally and globally. That would necessitate some efficient and practical means of communication between all levels top down and also on horizontal levels, between different fields: for instance, you need the ecologists trying to preserve some local pond to exchange with the nearest city officials, with business shareholders that want to build their industries near the pond, some people representatives that want both a green environment and some work to live decently, etc.
Fortunately, principles on how to organize such an organization do exist in the form of the Viable System Model for organizations as presented by Stafford Beer. What’s still lacking is an efficient model of communication, though in bootstrapping such an organization, currently existing forums, Facebook pages, Wikis and syndicated blogs would probably be do the trick.
To put it shortly and bluntly: the more people will think of a solution, the less chances are that it will become a reality.
(unless you can fund and implement it without the help of others, of course, but since we’re talking of a world-wide problem, it’s just impossible).
Reblog: How Do You Get Leaders to #Change? – Chief Learning Officer, Solutions for Enterprise Productivity
Here’s a nice article on How Do You Get Leaders to Change? – Chief Learning Officer, Solutions for Enterprise Productivity.
I especially like the end of the paper about coaching and asking questions.
Indeed, when we’re told something, there are high chances that it comes to collide with some of our beliefs or mental model (because we make sense of what we’re told with our own past experience, and that often means we mis-interpret what others are saying).
On the other hand, when asked question, we are forced to bridge the gap between where we stand (our current mental model) and what the other is trying to say. A question isn’t as explicit as a statement when it comes to expressing a perspective. So when asked a question, although we feel that some perspective is at play behind the question, we’re let with space which we can feel however we want, thus bridging the gap between our own mental model and that of the questioner.
Whatever your conviction when it comes to how people resist to change, I think we all admit that it’s hard to resist to a question (though, sometimes we might end up affirming that a question is meaningless. Yet, this is an opportunity for dialogue and explaining why we think so. So even in this case, the exchange and gap-bridging occurs, from the askee or asker).
No wonder Socrates asked questions! 🙂
Someone (Franck V.) sent me this nice cartoon about Overcoming Resistance :: TOC.tv. Check it out, it’s nice!
It’s the classical 4 elements of change:
- what are the positive aspects of changing (need to have a lot)
- what are the negative aspects of changing (as few as possible)
- what are the positive aspects of staying the same (as few as possible)
- and what are the negative aspects of staying the same (need to have a lot)
If all these variables are right, then people will most probably change.
Of course, this is the logical side of change, and it needs to be right.
But there are other aspects not evoked in this video that others (including myself) have found important for a change. Here’s an example why logic only isn’t enough of a motivation to change that I wrote some time ago about: Change or Die.
For instance, Self-Determination Theory explains that what’s motivating people ought to be intrinsic to them to be the most effective (surely, a motivation to change follows the same pattern). And intrinsic motivation mostly comes out of:
- Autonomy: the decision has to be theirs
- Competence: they need to feel competent to achieve the change
- Relatedness: they need to feel being part of a group
I have other hints as to what needs to be true for the change to be accepted and done, and it has to do with the cybernetics of mental models (or that the mind needs the requisite variety to understand the change and its consequences). The less a mind is “adapted” to a change, the more it will find discrepancies between how it is now and how the change would have it then. And since that’s discrepancies against a (supposedly) good state, these are most probably seen as bad. And thus not wanted.
I have a paper in writing on this, so I’m not going to explain this in details here, I need to lay down my ideas properly first. Stay tuned!
People read a lot of books to try to know all about Lean. Indeed, I did it myself (and sometimes still do it). And that’s OK.
But then, we try to have others do Lean as we’ve read in the books.
It’s an error.
We ought to have others build a Lean organization, not do it as per the books.
Trying to do Lean is trying to push solutions onto people, which is a sure way to have them resist.
Whether trying to build a Lean organization is about helping people find their own solutions toward Lean. As I say, it’s about pulling Lean out of the people. Not the other way round.
Indeed, Taiichi Ohno told us so: we shouldn’t try to replicate the Toyota Production System, we must grow our own. That’s the main reason he didn’t want to write down what TPS was in the first place (other reason was to avoid it becoming fixed).
Why is it, then, that we try to replicate all that Mr Ohno told, except for this one fundamental, point?
A fresh look at behaviour management in schools from @guardian: #solutionfocus for @EducationFrance ?
Here’s another rgeat article from The Guardian about using Solution Focus in schools.
Someone’s from the french ministry of education to test it ?
Somehow, I can’t help but relate this classroom story with what happens in organizations. People are under constant monitoring from their boss, not by him constantly watching over their shoulder (though, sometimes…) but because of that more or less mean year-end review. You know you’ll be evaluated, a bit on what you did done right, but mostly about what you did wrong or not good enough and that you’re supposed to improve next year. Indeed, your bonus relies on that evaluation (despite it not being the most motivating factor)
Doesn’t it look like the same as in school? No wonder there’s so few people engaged at work! Besides, pushing people toward some forced behaviors is a sure way to make them resist. Doesn’t everybody in the change business knows that by now?
Well, this is exactly what Appreciative Inquiry or Solution Focus is about. I’m really glad some kind of research has been done to put a number on it. Five times more commitment for a self-designed change vision, when compared to a top-down one.
Remember this number!
Conversely, it also means that the current way people see their situation is FIVE times more appealing to them than the change you might propose. Meaning that if you want to impose your ideas, you’ll have FIVE time more work to do to turn them over.
The article states that some company that made “people write their own lottery tickets” took twice the time to do so.
That mean that by investing TWO you get FIVE (a 2,5 investment). Not a bad deal when you know that you are the one that need to invest FIVE otherwise! So, the deal is:
- Give FIVE or
- Give TWO and get FIVE.
See original article here: Increase Your Team’s Motivation Five-Fold – Scott Keller – Harvard Business Review.
I read the paper here: Rio+20: who owns the Green Economy? | Opinion | Whitsunday Times and I’m worried (also see the other document from the parallel People Summit at Rio “Another Future is Possible” which is referenced from that “Tragedy of the Commons” blog post of the School of Commoning).
I’m worried because, like so many expert advices in organizations and governments, it’s unheard by those in a position to lead the change. To the best case, it will end on presidential desks and maybe will be read by them. To the worst, it will be forgot or even fuel that “tragedy of the commons” we’re experiencing regarding ecology on a global level where the more pressing the situation is, the more pushy ecologically aware people will become, thereby making leaders resist.
To me, the problem is two-fold: 1) experts having a non systemic perspective and 2) experts pushing leaders to change using fear.
Let’s look at these. Read more »
Readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of Training Within Industry programs. They were at the roots of Lean, along with other things. Although we usually talk of Job Methods as the ancestor of Kaizen, I would like to make a small focus today on Job Relations and how it is sound advice when it comes to change management.
The JR cover page states the following about the purpose of the program:
The Training Within Industry program of Job Relations was developed in order to provide management with a tool whereby supervisors could acquire skill of leadership.
Now, reading the associated card, one can see the following notices:
A supervisor gets results through people.
People must be treated as individuals.
I’m not going to review the whole program or card, but would like to stress how JR could make for a good training for any change agent, especially managers when then need to lead a change on their perimeter.
Foundations for good relations
First, there are some fundamental points stressed in JR as how to behave with people and maintain good relations. Two are worth stressing in the context of change:
Tell people in advance about changes that will affect them
Tell them WHY if possible
Get them to accept change
Make best use of each person's ability
Look for ability not now being used
Never stand in a person's way
How often are we seeing changes that are not told in advance and where the affected persons’ ability are not used in the change? I don’t see these two points as being separated, but as working together.
Indeed, it’s been recognized over and over that people are less likely to resist change when they understand the reasons behind it and they get a change to participate in it (by using their abilities).
By keeping the JR card with you and studying it thoroughly, you increase your chances of managing your people respectfully.
JR method step 1: Get the facts
The first step of the JR method is about “getting the facts”. Late Lean literature talks of “grasping the situation”, which is very similar, if not identical.
Worth mentioning though is the “Get opinions and feelings” item. From a systems thinking point of view, it’s good as it fosters different perspectives on the situation. Now, this item is not detailed on the card, but it’s the only one being given a list of key points on how to achieve it, if you do the hard work of reading the sessions outline (synthesis available in session V):
How to get opinions and feelings
- Don't argue
- Encourage individual to talk about what is important to him
- Don't interrupt
- Don't jump at conclusions
- Don't do all the talking yourself
How’s this for a “manager as coach” behavior? How often have you encountered a manager that really listens to you that way?
JR method step 3: Take action
Step 3 is interesting here for the two following points:
Are you going to handle this yourself?
Do you need help in handling?
What’s important here to me is when these two points of the method are combined with the preceding two fundamental points mentioned above. Indeed, a manager or change leader should not fear from getting help from the very people who are going to be impacted by the change. By reflecting in how s/he could get help from the people, by using their ability, he considerably augments the chances of the change going well.
Seeking help and involving others is not a sign of failure, but of sound responsibility.
(From a systems thinking point of view again, it helps achieve requisite variety with respect to the change perimeter).
I hope to have shown how the use of TWI Job Relations method can help in leading change. Of course, this is a bit slower than traditional “command and control” way of managing change, but I bet the JR way has a lot more long-term beneficial consequences than the traditional way.
TWI programs session manuals can be downloaded for instance from http://www.trainingwithinindustry.net/.
Currently re-reading TWI‘s “how to get continuing results”, I stumbled upon this paragraph:
To get appropriate action on this fundamental [Assign Responsibility for Getting Continuing Results], the TWI representative might get a decision by raising such questions as these:
(a) “How do you now inform your executive and supervisory organization of a new responsibility – or a new policy – or a new requirement? What change have you had recently where you had to get detailed information across to your supervisors (such as new procedures under your wage agreement, or change of manufacturing method, or change in production methods)? How did you get the results you wanted?
(b) “Will a similar procedure be adequate to get continued results in the case of JI, JM or JR?”
The new responsibilities mentioned above are the following ones:
The sponsoring executive must make it clear to the members of the executive and supervisory staff that they are responsible for results. To get continuing results, each executive and supervisor must:
- use the plan himself.
- provide assistance to those who report to him.
- require results of those who report to him.
Question (a) is clearly a “what works here?” question in a typical Solution Focus approach. Then it is inquired with question (b) whether this approach could be used for getting continuing use of the methods.
It’s marvelous that in 1944 already, TWI knew that it’s better for change management to build on current practices rather than create something new.
It’s also interesting to note that the “continuing use” of the J programs was supposed to be done through 1) coaching and 2) coaching from line management (not dedicated coaches).
How are you assuring continuing use of your Lean programs? Is it building on current managerial practices?