Real Transformation: Enabling People to Adapt, Make a Mark, and Engage

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Unless your team puts their individual interpretation into lean methods & tools, the transformation simply will not become embedded and quickly fades away. When you look at an old school picture, who is the first person you look for? If you are like most people, it’s you! There is actually part of the brain that lights up when we see an image of ourselves, or an object that sparks our self identify. We feel good when we identify with who we are, especially if we are part of making something better through a challenge – a situation, a relationship, or the unmet needs of another person.


In order for people and teams to take responsibility for the work systems and outcomes of their area, they need to see themselves rooted in the process. This means that their ideas, challenges, hunches, frustrations, and experiences are reflected in the way work processes are improved over time. They have to get their fingerprints on the work processes to care enough to own outcomes. People self-select responsibility for process when they know their opinion matters and what they do and say has a direct influence on how things change.


When workers see their own reflection in the work they do, they identify more deeply and become vested in the outcomes. Any countermeasure aimed at specific problem is a temporary fix at best. The best teams expect that today’s solutions will certainly not last long. When teams understand the fleeting nature of today’s customer demands, they naturally anticipate the need to check for change and adjust work practices as needed. Improving the way work gets done becomes part of doing daily work.


In order to make the right changes, a clear understanding of purpose must be in place. Objective measurements, some of which are under the direct control of the team, are essential here. When those closest to the work align with purpose and own their process, behavior, and the resulting outcomes, they participate and contribute at a heightened level of engagement.


When lean tools (like value stream mapping and A3s) are hoisted onto teams without the opportunity to accept and assume ownership, we disrespectfully dump a load of tools and training on them, and then expect people to connect! This is how the term “accountability” gets such a negative connotation. It’s crazy to hold anyone accountable when they have been given no reason or opportunity to engage in the change. They don’t see themselves in any of it.


Try to see it from their perspective: “I don’t feel my opinion matters, I don’t know whether we are winning or losing, I am not clear on our purpose or how my work contributes towards it.” With that outlook in place, they then consider their manager’s directive, “Hey, get engaged with lean, take ownership, and make improvements!”


What would you think?

Enterprise Transformation Through Continuous Improvement

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Enterprise Transformation

Many organizations reach a point where the acknowledge that the tools and processes that brought them to their current level of success are not sufficient to take them to a higher level of performance. The realization can be very painful and what to do about it even more agonizing.

To ensure your effective transformation, there are key elements that must be in place which include:

  • Engaging People At A New Level Of Respect, Challenge, and Accountability
  • Achieving Targeted Results
  • Intentionally Driving Strategic Alignment
  • Leveraging And Preserving “Keeper” Components Of Your Organization

Enterprise Excellence requires four key dimensions of performance in order to create and sustain great results with great behavior.

    1. Cultural Enablers – A work environment built on respectful engagement and active participation of leaders, managers, and associates
    2. Continuous Process Improvement – Team-based problem solving, trust, and transparency of problems are common throughout the company
    3. Alignment – People share a common purpose and bring their focus and behavior into line with that purpose to achieve great results
    4. Awesome Results – Measureable and sustainable outcomes are achieved by teams using a common set of principles, systems, and tools

These elements can be found in any great company, and most organizations have some degree of all four elements. An effective approach is to identify where you are strong and where you are weak, and to respond appropriately.

The Transformational Leader

In our experience, Leadership is the most critical element in an effective transformation. So much has been written on the topic of leadership but most of it lacks the specific actions of a leader required to rally, drive, and sustain those new behaviors necessary to create lasting change long after the leader is gone.

There are countless examples of companies who realized significant improvement in their culture, operational results, customer satisfaction, market share, safety, and more. However, when the leader who was at the helm during the makeover retires or moves on, often the changes begin to revert and the “magic” is lost. We have worked with many organizations, which lived through this painful, costly, and disruptive devolution from a culture or excellence back to a culture of mediocrity.

Leaders strive to achieve greater results, stronger alignment, more effective continuous improvement, and greater efficiencies; many believe they need a radical transformation to attain higher levels of performance. Yet leaders must do more than buy in and support the hard work of creative a culture of excellence. The good news is this: there are specific actions and behaviors which drive lasting, effective transformation.

The Key Systems That Drive Lasting Change

Work systems are those procedures, policies, practices, and tools in place to get work done. Systems can either enable the right behaviors or encourage the wrong behaviors. Over the course of 20+ years of experience working with companies to create a culture of excellence, we have identified a collection of key systems that drive the right results with the right behavior. These work systems complement each other to reinforce collaboration, respect, transparency, and accountability to create a culture of performance.

All of our clients benefit from the lessons we have learned over two decades of trial and discovery with a variety of industries. These lessons are embedded in the key work systems we mobilize to crate a foundation from which to cultivate and reinforce and the right behaviors in your people. Actions influence thinking and, in turn, create a new norm. We see culture as the agreed upon way we get things done. As new norms of behavior emerge, a new culture begins to form. With work systems in place designed to reinforce the new norms, sustained transformation takes place!


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