Learning

The project work itself, no matter the method, is an opportunity for the individuals and the group to learn. This can be a form of personnel training. There are more learning opportunities than some off-site event. One thing we did not cover is that there is a difference between learning something and developing a true understanding of that thing or applying critical and creative thinking to the processes, procedures, and the project. For example, a person can learn to push a button given a specific event or indicator lamp, that does not mean they know what has happened or what the switch activation does to abate the situation. There are many theories about learning styles, both pro and con, and the application of what is learned in a critical or creative manner. At this point you are probably asking, “what does this have to do with management?”

We started our discussion with Introduction Learning and Thought, Importance to the Organization and in that section, we worked into the Mission and Vision statements. The Mission and Vision statements are set by the management and should be used to create a culture to promote growth of the organization in a particular way by providing its people with direction consistent with the aspirational objective of the organization. When people have a question on “How should we proceed” the vision statement should be their guiding light, not the management team, and the mission statement should be the map to the guiding light. Last, but not least, there is the values statement. If the vision statement is the goal, and the mission statement is the road map, then the values statement is the rules of the road. This will seem to be a circle in that if management sets the mission, vision, and values statements they should be the guidance, right? No, even if management does create these three statements they must be followed or enforced at all levels of the organization and be the guide of everyone’s attitudes and actions. Management that behaves contrary to these documents, will nullify these documents to the point of the team members not behaving according to these expectations.

What would your mission statements be that would support developing a learning organization? Could you then develop a value statement to support that mission statement? One of the first questions from management when approached with a question from the team should be, “What does our mission, vision, and values statements tell us to do?” This approach helps reinforce the importance of the mission, vision, and values statements and guides the individual to creatively think of how they apply to the organization. This approach is in line with the empower management approach where people are prompted to come to their own conclusions, thus providing the team with an opportunity to create and buy in to the outcome. Matching our words to our deeds promotes the mission, vision, and values statements through active application.

Management and Change Management

How does management play a role in change management? Change does not always require a manager, that is change is coming whether you like it or not. We manage change to encourage a change that moves in the desired direction, that is the reason for management. The change happens, and often is emergent. Emergent in that it happens in small steps, not bursting into view all at once. This requires paying attention to these subtle clues. This is like starting a fire, we set kindling and early starting material, and when the fire appears to be taking hold, we take more actions to encourage the growth. We do this following the rules of fire making, for example placing the additional material in such a manner that allows air circulation and a higher level of combustion. Like building a fire, developing a corporation’s culture requires attention to the dynamics and a response that supports those emerging symptoms that support the objective, as well as a response for emerging events that run contrary to the organization’s objective. Inattention to these emergent events by management or project managers results in culture changes that are not desired. By that we mean those changes that promote workarounds, sub-optimization of the entire processes of the organization, or restricts dissemination of knowledge. These are not good results from change, as they are not captured formally and are commonly employed by those who are in phase three ofTribal leadership: I am great you are not,* which is counter to a healthy organization. It is important to re relate

' Logan, D., King, J. P., & Fischer-Wright, H. (2011). Tribal leadership: Leveraging natural groups to build a thriving organization. New York: Harper Business.

change management to our mission, vision, and values statements. Actions that allowed to diverge from these core statements can easily happen, and if we do not address this discrepancy will result in culture that has nothing to do with our desire. This discrepancy will result in morale issues and confusion of the team members.

How does management play a role in change management? Change does not always require a manager, that is change is coming whether you like it or not. We manage change to encourage a change that moves in the desired direction, that is the reason for management. The change happens, and often is emergent. Emergent in that it happens in small steps, not bursting into view all at once. This requires paying attention to these subtle clues. This is like starting a fire, we set kindling and early starting material, and when the fire appears to be taking hold, we take more actions to encourage the growth. We do this following the rules of fire making, for example placing the additional material in such a manner that allows air circulation and a higher level of combustion. Like building a fire, developing a corporation’s culture requires attention to the dynamics and a response that supports those emerging symptoms that support the objective, as well as a response for emerging events that run contrary to the organization’s objective. Inattention to these emergent events by management or project managers results in culture changes that are not desired. By that we mean those changes that promote workarounds, sub-optimization of the entire processes of the organization, or restricts dissemination of knowledge. These are not good results from change, as they are not captured formally and are commonly employed by those who are in phase three of Tribal leadership: I am great you are not, which is counter to a healthy organization. It is important to re relate change management to our mission, vision, and values statements. Actions that allowed to diverge from these core statements can easily happen, and if we do not address this discrepancy will result in culture that has nothing to do with our objective. This discrepancy, left unaddressed, will result in morale issues and confusion of the team members, or at least will demonstrate that the company vision, mission and values statements are just words and mean nothing.

Information and Reporting

Think about a manager or project manager. What reports do they receive and how many of those reports contain data that either represents the current status or provides useful information? Progress and status reports are something that managers and project managers often request and are needed for their jobs. However, experience suggests many of these reports contain information that is either tainted by the perspective of the provider or burdened with irrelevant information. Tainted data can happen accidental in the gathering, or a function of self-preservation, that is consciously manipulated to lead the person viewing the information to a desired conclusion, often favorable. Both failure types benefit from team perspective and a safe environment, no fear of reprisals for saying or reporting the facts. Another failure mode is information that has little or nothing to do with the objective or goals. In fact, a mass of data can make understanding a situation difficult, it diffuses focus, clouds the issues and prevents crisp movement toward learning and moving toward our goals. Using the minimalistic management* and change models you as a manager should be asking several questions:

■ What information do I need to understand what is happening?

■ How much of that information do I need reported that I cannot obtain on my own through observation and attention to detail?

■ Do the people providing the information understand its purpose and what do they see as required information?

These are just a few of the type of questions that a manager or project manager might want to ask themselves to determine if they are receiving useful information or bogging down a system with unnecessary and irrelevant data collection. The manager should provide rationale for the information and will aid those providing information to help in developing useful metrics and frequency of tracking. In fact, a manager should not unilaterally define the measure or how the measurements are

There are limits to documentation, at the extreme, the paper can divide the people

Figure 8.1 There are limits to documentation, at the extreme, the paper can divide the people.

Smith, R. (2011, June 06). Minimalist Management — When Less is More. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from https://www.managementexchange.com/blog/minimalist-management- when-less-more

Learning and Leadership ■ 195

obtained or the tools (for example, like those discussed in the TQM section) should be used to analyze and present the data. This involves the team, engages the team and exercises their skills in measurement while being coached by the manager or project manager.

As with most things going too far in any extreme does not solve anything, so care must be employed to strike a balance between needed and useful, to avoid unproductive and burdensome. The balance of this information can be achieved but may require the assistance of the owners of the processes, procedures, and projects being monitored or managed. These discussions and subsequent measurements can clarify system performance and identify constraints or bottlenecks. Trend data can help us understand to natural variation in the system that truly helps in understanding the system as well as being a precursor for system improvements via change.

Mission, vision, and value statements have impact on the system and personnel

Figure 8.2 Mission, vision, and value statements have impact on the system and personnel.

 
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