Developing an Effective Change Process
Approaching the design of work in terms of value-add work processes and systems allows those engaged in the processes of leading, managing, and following to change the business organization more easily and in so doing eliminate waste. In this way, value-add can be improved and the business can grow more rapidly. In this section, I continue to emphasize leading by means of value-add processes. Speciically, I discuss what role model leaders must do in order to bring about positive change in high-performance work systems.
Bringing about positive change is the work of role model leaders. Clearly, then, they need to understand the most effective ways to bring that change about. My premise is that the most effective way for them to approach this work is by grasping the value-add steps of any task by thinking thoroughly about the change they want to bring about and then acting in a disciplined and orderly manner, one value-add step at a time. In an organization designed around value-add processes, everyone becomes a leader. Everyone in the process can be engaged in changing in improving things.
The Change Process Model
In part two I described the skills, character attributes, and purposeful behaviours required to qualify as a role model leader. Those who hope to lead complex organizations must develop all of these. My conviction has long been that leadership is, at its root, about the capacity to think effectively and completely from values to results. Part two also described the unique capability of “thinking effectively and completely” in detail. This is what role model leaders must be able to do above anything else. The tool presented in part two for the aspiring role model leader to learn, practise, and utilize this capability was “levels of thought.”
I will return to that model in this section when discussing the components of the change process. As you will see, levels of thought will be the basis for the thinking framework in Figure 11.4 that I propose as the change process model.
By answering the three questions – Why? How? What? – we can come to understand the work of leading an organization through signiicant change. We can learn all the steps required of role model leadership for change. We can learn what it is that role model leaders must do in order to inspire their people to make changes collectively or individually. This will involve a series of steps that have the potential to teach the organization's people how to make change – steps that have the potential to call people to action to implement change and get results.
All of this competence will in turn help create a high-performance work system – one in which positive change is the goal for a better future for everyone involved: Everyone a Leader, everyone engaged in the process of change. Figure 11.4 The Change Process Model
Developing Meaning for Change
There are three sequential components in the change process: developing meaning, formulating direction, and implementing that direction. The irst aspect of the change process – developing meaning – is arguably the most important, for any change proposed and acted on by the role model leader must have a clear and valuable meaning for everyone in the organization.
The word valuable has arisen a number of times in this book. To review, values are beliefs that determine our behaviour – they are things that we as individuals or as organizations hold to be true and enduring and that motivate us to think and act in certain ways. Values guide our lives and our actions. They are extremely important and can best be understood as encompassing three levels of thought: beliefs, philosophy, and principles.
Values were discussed at length in part one and again in part two, where the levels of thought tool was introduced and where beliefs, philosophy, and principles were discussed at length. Earlier in this book, the relationship between personal values and organizational values was described. As noted at the time, each set of values relected a somewhat different, albeit speciic, set of beliefs, philosophy, and principles.
Here I introduce the idea of “change values” as a way to describe the beliefs, philosophy, and principles of people in a high-performance work
system. Why are role model leaders motivated to change things? We can answer that question by asking questions such as these:
• What are the individual role model leader's beliefs about change in relation to the collective beliefs of the group, team, or organization?
• What principles, guides to action, or behaviours exist in the minds of the organization's leaders in relation to changing the work their organization is doing?
The answers to questions like those draw out the beliefs, philosophy, and principles about change and the meaning of change for the people in the high-performance work system.
Here I need to reintroduce the idea of the “catalyst.” This refers to a leader who has an idea for changing things to improve some aspect of the organization. Say, for example, that Linda, a research engineer in the R&D organization, has an idea that she has fully explored and thought about. She decides that this idea, which would result in signiicant change to the company's major product line, must be a priority for the company. Linda, here, is a change initiator or catalyst. She must ind a way to inluence the company's other leaders to join in a common purpose that relates to her idea for change. This will be easier for her than it would be in most companies because her organization has embraced the concept of Everyone a Leader and its people are learning to be leaders; all are therefore open and motivated to make continuous change and seek to improve the organization. The other people in her organization already have the individual leading skills, character attributes, and purposeful behaviours of leaders. Linda realizes that other, more conventional organizations have not embraced that mantra and thus individuals in those organizations would be harder for her to inluence than those in her company.
Linda also realizes that she must irst develop meaning for the change she has in mind. To that end, she must establish her own set of change values and then inluence others to align with those values. Ideally, the others in her company will achieve a state of shared, harmonious values that align with her idea. She recognizes that even though her organization has accepted the philosophy of Everyone a Leader, this will require considerable work on her part. What does Linda do? Her approach is as follows:
• She clariies in her own mind her beliefs about the change. For example, “I believe that the product modiication is important for the company. I also believe that the product modiication can be scaled to commercial uses.”
She invites the others in her company to a session where they can hear her beliefs about the change. This is also an opportunity for her to hear what their beliefs are regarding change.
• She collects their shared beliefs, and she summarizes the key unifying beliefs as a statement of philosophy. That statement will be the precursor for a set of principles for guiding future action. For example, “The R&D organization as a whole and selected marketing people strongly support deinitive laboratory and pilot plant and market testing of new product X in our markets Y. We believe this product has the potential to grow our revenues by a signiicant level – a level that needs, however, to be estimated through additional explorative work.”
• The group, having become inspired, develops further meaning for the change by developing a set of principles that guide future action. For example, “We will proceed with deining how to develop and inluence people in the marketing organization. We will establish the beneits to customers and other stakeholders that will be affected by this change.”
These three steps fully develop the meaning for the organizational change that Linda is attempting to initiate. This meaning is probably not the exact same one that Linda would have expressed as the change initiator. But by collaborating with others, she has learned from them, and in turn those others have sensed her strong motivation to make the change. The others have strengthened their admiration for her as a role model leader. The idea has moved from speciic change agency in the mind of a single person to the notion of enduring organizational value for change.
Going beyond the idea of change agency in a speciic part of the organization is the notion of enduring organizational change values. Change values are not completely different from personal and organizational values; indeed, in the very best organizations they are part of organizational values. In organizations where ongoing change is an overriding priority, stated values for change are woven into the fabric of organizational values. A large and complex technology company and service provider to government, military, and commercial enterprises in the aerospace business
states the following as its premier values:
Passion: To be passionate about winning and about our brands, products and people, thereby delivering superior value to our shareholders.
Risk Tolerance: To create a culture where entrepreneurship and prudent risk taking are encouraged and rewarded. Excellence: To be the best in quality and in everything we do.
Motivation: To celebrate success, recognizing and rewarding the achievements of individuals and teams.
Innovation: To innovate in everything, from products to processes.
Empowerment: To empower our talented people to take the initiative and to do what's right.
Here we have a statement of values that begins by deining the business and then states and deines the beliefs of that business. Clearly, this company aspires to be an innovative organization that takes prudent risks. In its statement one can feel the organization's energy and the priority it places on change.
Another example is from a large and diversiied energy company. Its stated values are as follows:
Proitable Growth: Seeking sustainable, proitable growth by encouraging relentless pursuit of our vision, simplicity of style, speed of action, innovation and leadership in all of our chosen business activities.
Positive Change: Embracing and capitalizing on change, recognizing that every employee must be empowered to stimulate continuous improvement in all aspects of our business.
Enthusiastic Customers: Enhancing our reputation as a company that customers can rely on to deliver products so excellent in their quality, and service so outstanding in its responsiveness, that it will always be recognized for leadership in the marketplace.
Involved Employees: Striving for a workplace where opportunity, openness, enthusiasm, diversity, teamwork, accountability and a sense of purpose combine to provide a rewarding professional experience that promotes fairness, dignity and respect for all employees.
Conident Shareholders: Managing all parts of our business in a manner that builds value into the investment of all shareholders, conirming their conidence in participating in the ownership of this company.
Responsible Citizenship: Conducting our business with the highest standards of ethics, adherence to the law, and “doing what's right” – thereby continuing the legacy of encouraging a healthy
and safe workplace, responsible government, a highly competitive free enterprise system, environmental responsibility. In these statements, this company cross-references a commitment to its vision. Interestingly, it references its dedication to “positive change,” continuous improvement, and “doing what is right.”
The above two statements are excellent examples of speciic approaches to developing meaning for change for the people both inside the organization and outside it. Both groups are important: a company's values must be clear to the stakeholders inside the company if they are to be motivated to carry out the direction as it relates to change. And that same change direction must be clear to the stakeholders outside the company – customers, communities, society at large – so that they understand the boundaries within which the company works when achieving its goals. Only then will society be able to support the company as a member of its community.
Both the thinking effectively model (see Figure 4.1) and the change process model (see Figure 11.4) answer the questions Why? How? and What? These are the three essential questions for the leader-engineer when thinking about things to change and when changing things to create high-performance work systems and improve the lives of people.