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Brief coaching: a #solutionfocus-ed approach (PDF)

May 22nd, 2012 Posted in Change, Solution Focus Tags: , , , , ,

Building on what works in pure Solution Focus way, I found the following PDF article explaining what SF-based coaching is.

The paper is co-authored by BRIEF people in UK and is available from the Publication section (direct link here, quote: Iveson. C., George, E., Ratner, H.  (2012)  Brief Coaching: a solution focused approach In Coaching Today April 2012  17 – 20)

 

How to address Maintenance & Relapse stages of Lean change – #6 (and last) in SFMI #Lean series

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Photo Credit: U.S. Army via Compfight

This article is #6 and last in a Series about using Solution Focus and Motivational Interviewing to coach CEOs into starting their own Lean journey.

#1 in series gave a broad-brush view of what I intended to write about. Please read it first.

#2 in series addressed the precontemplation stage of change.

#3 in series helped reinforce the contemplation stage.

#4 in series was about supporting the preparation stage.

#5 in series dealt with the action stage.

This article deals with the two last stages of change: that of Maintenance and Relapse!

Background on Maintenance and Relapse

During the last episode, we’ve seen how to help the CEO sustain his Action stage mainly by making him reflect on the results he got and on how he planned to continue to improve.

Or course, Lean is a journey, not an end in itself. So there’s no final learning on the part of the CEO. Yet, when it comes to his behavior, there are some new ones that must be put in place and maintained once he found that they worked (meaning they induced continuous improvement initiatives and thriving from the employees). Occasionally, the manager could fall back into relapse. The coach must then know how to help him get back on track to what worked well. Here’s how.

During this stage, the role of the coach is to support the CEO in maintaining his own successful behaviors by:

  • supporting and encouraging the behavior changes already done
  • talking about possible trouble spots and developing plans to manage relapse triggers

Of course, in case of relapse (falling back in command & control mode, telling what to do (giving solutions), forgetting to following-through with improvements, etc.), the coach has a clear role to play as well:

  • addressing the relapse, but without adding to the feeling of shame that could exist
  • assessing and discussing what went wrong and remembering what worked well instead, to reuse that

Maintenance

By now, the CEO should have clearly identified what works for him in modelling Lean behaviors that foster employee thriving and continuous improvement. So, what’s important is that the coach supports him and help him put in place triggers to detect relapse and take action should this occur. I propose some questions below in the Motivational Interviewing and Solution Focus way used in the preceding posts of the series.

  • Things seem to be running almost by themselves now. What are you doing that allows that? What else?
  • How did you manage to get there (show the current successful behaviors) despite the rest of the organization not initially being supportive? [develop his sense of autonomy]
  • What have you learn about yourself? What else? [develop his sense of competence]
  • What do your current behaviors bring to management and to the employees? What pleases them? What else?
  • What are the results from the customers points of view? From the stakeholders?
  • How did you manage to achieve all of these? What else? What else?
  • How do you feel?

Preparing for relapse:

  • Old habits die hard: have you witnessed yourself falling back already? How did you noticed? How did you felt about it? How did you manage to get back on the train? How did you felt then? 
  • What else?
  • What positive effect had your getting back on track with Lean behaviors on the employees? How did they helped/supported you? What else?
  • On a scale from 0 (no confidence) to 10 (totally confident), how do you rate your confidence in maintaining your effective Lean behaviors in the future? How come such a number? Why not a lower number? What strengths do you have that support your maintaining your Lean behaviors? What small step do you see yourself doing tomorrow to start moving to the next level on the scale? What else?

As usual with Motivational Interviewing, practice OARSOpen-ended questionsAffirm positive talk & behaviors (these are already embedded in the proposed questions above), Reflect what’s said (emphasizing success) and Summarize often.

Relapse

First of all, it’s important to stress that relapse is unavoidable. It happens, this is normal, and things can be done. During the maintenance dialogues above, some tokens were identified that support the CEO into his Lean behaviors and to get back on track should he had fallen off the train. Still, the CEO may wish to see the coach because some things aren’t going as expected, or the coach may witness some regress during one of the visit.

Motivational Interviewing addresses these situations by digging into the problem and trying to understand it. Since we’re trying to make use of Solution Focus at the same time, we’re introducing a twist here by building again a platform and helping the CEO re-imagine his Future Perfect, then help him identify what works that he can re-use to get back on the Lean train.

Here are some proposal questions:

  • I noticed that some things weren’t as your showed them to me last time. What happened? how do you link the situation to your own behavior?
  • What would you want the situation to be instead? What would that mean for your corresponding behaviors?
  • How did you managed to demonstrate these behaviors in the past? What worked in the past to sustain the behaviors despite the environment?
  • Aide from the current problem, what’s working? What’s giving you hope for the future? How do you manage to sustain these other aspects? How could that help you get back to your preferred future as far as the problem is concerned?
  • On a scale from 0 (inappropriate Lean behavior) to 10 (ideal Lean behavior you’d like to demonstrate with respect to the current relapse), where are you now? What helped you not fall down a lower number?  What else? What small step will you make tomorrow to start moving to N+1? What else?
  • How will you see you’re back on train?

Conclusion

Here we are. In this series of articles I tried to address the necessary change of behavior a CEO should demonstrate to move from his current behaviors (at the source of the current situation of his organization) to Lean behaviors more appropriate for an organization embodying Lean:

  • thriving management and employees,
  • exhilarating service to customers,
  • and delighted stakeholders.

I proposed to introduce the necessary changes by making use of:

  • Motivational Interviewing: a way to dialogue with someone to as to make him or her move through some stages of change without any raising of habitual “change resistance”. This is done by raising awareness in the coachee that he is autonomous in his decision to change or not, he is indeed competent in doing the change and by installing a sense of relatedness between the coach and the coachee where the coach models prosocial behaviors and embodies a posture (behaviors) that can be replicated by the CEO toward his employees. Five strategies are used for that purpose: 1) expressing empathy, 2) developing discrepancy between what the CEO wants and where he is, 3) avoiding any argumentation and 4) rolling with resistance and finally 5) supporting self-efficacy of the CEO.
  • Solution Focus: a change approach that builds a platform out of a problematic situation, based on what works nonetheless. Then the coachees is encouraged to envision a Preferred Future. Then, the coach helps the coachee identify tokens that support his already working behaviors and the smallest possible steps that could be taken immediately to improve the situation toward the vision.

I hope I have been clear enough in my description of this endeavor. Any experiment you might make with this proposed approach, I’d be delighted to know what happened and what worked. Feel free to contact me by leaving a comment below or through any of my social entry points at my Google Profile.

Short video presentation of #SolutionFocus by Mark McKergow

February 29th, 2012 Posted in Solution Focus Tags: , , ,

Please help yourself: quick (around 4 minutes) and right to the point!

Solution Focus introduction par Mark McKergow, co-author of “The solution focus” book.

Also, I can’t help but recommend the book Mark co-authored, as it is a real pleasure to read: Solution Focus in its most elegant and simple apparel: The Solution Focus.

The Power of #Positive: Improve productivity by accentuating the human dimension of #lean Six Sigma

February 29th, 2012 Posted in Change, Lean Tags: , , , , , ,

Please read this excellent article on Quality Progress of the ASQ: The Power of Positive (free registration required) about how putting positive psychology into Lean Six Sigma may improve results of these methods.

 

#Prezi presentation of Appreciative Inquiry for Community Development #AI

Someone on LinkedIn posted a link to this wonderful Prezi presentation. Although you might not be into community Development, most of the presentation is worth looking. Check it out!

It appears that the author, Lise Palmer, authored other Prezi, on AI and else. Probably worth checking out too!

Well done, Lisa!!

 

5 Suggestions for becoming a skilled #solutionfocus professional (guest post from Coert Visser @doingwhatworks)

February 1st, 2012 Posted in Solution Focus Tags: , , , ,

This is a guest post by Coert Visser, www.solution-focusedchange.com

The solution-focused approach, which was invented in psychotherapy in the 1980s, is now being discovered by many people in all kinds of professions such as coaches, social workers, managers, teachers, trainers, consultants, and project managers. Many people know the solution-focused approach from techniques such as scaling questions, the miracle question, past success questions, and coping questions. By using these and other types of solution-focused questions, the approach helps them to get a clearer picture of their desired situation and of what has already worked before. Many professionals who have started to apply solution-focused principles and techniques are pleased both by the response they get from their clients, employees, or students and by how fast it tends to lead to good results.

Professionals who have just begun to work solution-focused also notice that mastering it is not quite as easy as it might appear. They sometimes ask me for suggestions of how they might approach their learning process. Here are five suggestions based on my experience of what usually works well:

  1. Practice a lot: The basic assumptions and principles of the solution-focused approach can probably be understood within the span of a day, or so. But to master the skills may take many years. If you want to achieve excellence as a solution-focused coach your best chance of achieving it is to approach it as you would approach becoming an excellent musician. Set stretching learning goals focused on improving areas of performance which you are not satisfied about, practice a lot, get feedback and guidance, observe, discuss and learn from examples, keep practicing, reading, writing and immersing yourself in the subject matter. The more technically proficient you’ll become, the more this will free up your attention in conversations with clients to listen carefully to what they are saying and to respond adequately.
  2. Feel free to combine: Since no one can master all the solution-focused principles and techniques at once, it is a good thing that solution-focused principles can often be combined with models and tools from other approaches. To borrow a phrase from Canadian solution-focused consultant Alan Kay, solution-focused principles and techniques can often be ‘layered in’ into existing tools like a SWOT-analysis, or SMART goals.
  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself. When students of the solution-focused approach become more knowledgeable and skilled something paradoxical may happen. While they become better, they may feel they don’t make any progress or even become worse. There may be two reasons for this: 1) only when they are exposed to this new complexity, and when they become aware of how subtle the solution-focused approach works, they become aware of what they don’t know. In other words, their self-assessment is reduced because they also learn to judge their ability level more accurately. 2) While they are making progress they are often simultaneously becoming more demanding and raising the bar for themselves. When learning new complex skills please realize that it is not abnormal to feel as though you are not making progress. My suggestion is to be as affirmative and appreciative for yourself as you are for your clients. Also, ask yourself if your client found the conversation with you useful. Even when you found your performance disappointing your client may still have found the conversation very useful. That is what matters most.
  4. Keep an open mind: Every now and then, you may come across aspects of the approach which may not directly appeal to you. My suggestion is to not dismiss them too soon but instead to give these aspects a chance to prove themselves in practice. You might not understand and appreciate every aspect of the approach right away but you might do so later. 
  5. Remain skeptical: Don’t be convinced solely on the basis of anecdotes, case examples or what ‘authorities’ tell you. Keep trying things out, research them well, add your own inventions and build on what works. This way you may gradually develop your version of the solution-focused approach which is optimally suited for your purposes.  

If you are interested in the solution-focused approach I hope you find one or more of these suggestions useful and I’d love to hear about some of your experiences.

 

#Change management using #TWI Job Relations

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.

and

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
  • Listen

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).

Conclusion

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/.

New Year Questions (#SolutionFocus #Change)

Coert Visser did a nice article about Solution Focus based questions for a new year. I’d like to build on them and propose my own, in the hope that it could positively improve any change initiative you’re a part of (or a leader).

From your customers’ point of view

  • What pleased your customers last year? What else?
  • How did you provided that to them? What else?
  • How could you make more of that?
  • What first step can you take right not to make more of that? What smaller step can you make? Even smaller?
  • Imagine your customers coming in and asked you straight what they really want. What would they ask? What else?
  • How are you going to provide it? What first step do you need to make, now, to provide it?

From your employees’ point of view

Manager to employees

  • What made your employees happy last year?
  • How could they achieve this?
  • How can you help them make more of it?
  • What are they thriving for?
  • What would make them soar?
  • What impact would them soaring could have on yourself? On your business?
  • What small step can you make right now to start building that preferred future of them?
  • What first thing will your employees notice that you changed in order to bring them more thriving opportunities in their work?
  • What strengths did you notice in each of your employees? How is s/he using them? What prevents them from using these strengths more thoroughly and more often? How could you help that? What first step do you see you doing now to help that strength liberation?

Employees to management

  • What made you happy last year?
  • How did you do it?
  • How could you make more of it?
  • What worked well in your relations with your management? How did you do it? What else? How could you do more of it?

From a process (system) point of view

  • What worked well last year? What else?
  • How did the organization make it happen?
  • How could you do more of it? What else?
  • What first step could you do right now to do more of it?

Ok, I guess you got the point. Feel free to propose more questions below!

Happy new year everyone!

#TWI used #SolutionFocus approach in “how to get continuing results”! (#Lean)

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?

Don’t look for #change resistance. It’s bad for you.

People expect change resistance and most, if not all, change approaches recommend anticipating it to better fight or manage it.

Indeed, in a pure constructivist view, what you look for, you’ll find (one of the principles of Appreciative Inquiry). If you keep asking what might go wrong, chances are that people (willing to help you) will play devil’s advocate and throw stones at your ideas. Indeed, you’re the one that looked for these people in the first place! Further, by confronting these people, you’ll most probably dig your grave yourself. You entail yourself to critics, a sure way to lower your morale and make your project stale. In a short time, you’ll see but the bad sides of your project.

On the other hand, if you search for supporters, chances are you’ll find some, too (same constructivist principle). Supporters will praise your ideas and send you positive messages that will boost your energy. Being in a good mood, you’re in a better position to listen for ideas that may enhance yours, creating synergies among participants, fostering even more positive energy and moving everybody in that future they’re collectively imagining, thereby creating it (the fact that you might have taken these very same ideas as critics in the previous situation will, hopefully, never occur to you!).

Here’s a trick to help you find supporters: ask them what they need first and see how your ideas could provide it then show them how.

Did you know that most people love to help others? How could you find out by yourself?

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