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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Instituting Change

One global company decided to cultivate a culture of safety. The chairman of the organization wrote a letter to all the employees of the organization scattered in several countries around the world about what he thought regarding safety and what needs to be done in order to make it happen. The management team mobilized their resources to ensure that the entire company goes the direction they want to take it to. Safety officers and committees were designated in all the plants. All plant employees were trained about safety awareness and practices. There are plenty of first-aiders assigned to each shift. In fact all supervisors and managers are sufficiently trained in it. Audit teams were formed and whenever there are opportunities for some managers and personnel to visit other plants, safety tours became part of their itinerary. The company thought, talked about, wrote and breathed safety. People’s safety concerns were raised and addressed, no one is allowed not to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (P.P.E.). Is the program successful? Of course it is. Every single person understands, and practices safety all the time within the plants and perhaps even in their homes. They have complete appreciation of what they are doing. They understand that safety is everyone’s business and it is everyone’s right to be safe at work. For them, safety awareness is not a management fad or flavor of the month. Safety is here to stay for them.

This article is not really about safety, it’s about instituting whatever change or strategy management chooses to bring to the organization. The company I just mentioned has world-wide presence, with thousands and thousands of employees and yet they succeeded in putting together the kind of culture that they want to have. I’ve seen companies that are a lot smaller pay lip service to wanting to become a dynamic company that anticipates and make necessary changes to meet organizational challenges but fail to deliver. The main reason, lack of strong will to pursue what it takes to make significant change. A number of companies approach me about giving training in customer service. As usual I would ask to meet with them and discuss my concept of building a service culture. Most often than not, no one is willing to go the whole nine yards in cultivating a service culture. They get nervous, when they see the amount of work involved in ensuring customer satisfaction at every service touch point. All they want is a one or two-day training and say “let’s start with that and see what we can do next” Change, in order to work have to be championed from the top to the bottom, followed through relentlessly with supporting programs and initiatives, planned, tracked, monitored, evaluated and enhanced as necessary. If a huge company can do it, there is no reason why others cannot. All it takes is will and unyielding pursuit of what needs to be done.

Are you building a team? How serious are you? What have you done to make it happen? Are you working as an effective team yet? If not, why? And what else need to be done? Be persistent.

Do you want people in your organization to be creative and innovative? You are not going to wake up one morning finding out that everybody just turned creative. There is a lot of work involved in making it happen. You have to let them appreciate creativity, make them realize that they can be creative, create an environment that rewards creativity and risk taking, train people to be more creative. So much work is involved, but is it worth it? Is it worth it to have your employees discover a way of producing results at less cost, put together the next product that will wipe out the competition, increase productivity ten fold and many other impossible things made possible by cultivating a creative culture? It is worth it…

Don’t be scared of the work involved in instituting change. I’d love to see a good shortcut that will get us to where we want to be, but all I’ve seen so far are shortcuts that hardly moved organizations. That’s because they are not even shortcuts, they are pretensions. Managers pretending to institute change… There is a good tagalog word for it… Ningas cogon(brush fire?). Don’t be…

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