Tag Archives: strategic change management

Detailed Planning is Obsolete

“The unknown and unknowable” is a phrase Dr. Deming used to describe the knowledge needed to run a comp

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d...

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d'Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

any perfectly.  Some view this statement as wishy-washy, especially those that believe the universe (or anything) can be explained.  This is old school . . . meaning that Einstein, Planck and many others have proven that there are things outside of our control.  Meaning, you just can’t plan for them.

Frederick Taylor would have loved the planning culture that exists today.  It would seem so tidy that everything could be predicted and plans could be made.  So few organizations spend the time they need to understand their own organizations as systems, customer-in.

Instead the top-down plans because they are written are set in stone.  Careers are put on the line when the plan and timeline to “hit the numbers” cascades through the organization.  Daily and weekly meetings to be sure everyone is “working to plan.”  No one can – the universe is unpredictable.

The “here and now” may not be as sexy as spending a week at some boondoggle where you can play golf and write a strategic plan. However, the results are much better when you live in a world of reality and  modern science.

One may find it more appealing that the world is not as predictable as business wants it  to be – you can always discover something new . . . if you look.

Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect.  His organization helps executives find a better way to link perspective to performance and use workers to build and refine your service.  Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for CustomermanagementIQ.com. Reach him on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn atwww.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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Systems Thinking and The “Flop”

Jumper performing the Fosbury Flop
Image via Wikipedia

To win in the Olympics it takes perfection and practice of a certain event in which you train for most of your life . . . or does it?  Nothing more controversial then in 1968 when Dick Fosbury broke tradition and method with a better way.  So, if you went to the Olympics that year having perfected the Straddle technique, Western Roll, Eastern cut-off Scissors jump you would have lost . . . no matter how good you were.

You see Dick Fosbury was the inventor of a new method and better way called the Fosbury Flop.  The controversy he started had athletes, commisions and countries trying to ban his method.  An unfair advantage and call  for protecting the high jump was the case.

When W. Edwards Deming met with business leaders in Japan on July 13th, 1950 he told them that if they would follow his teaching and method that manufacturers the world over would be screaming for protection in five years (they did it in four).  Dr. Deming new that in manufacturing a better way than the productivity mentality existed and had exhausted himself in America trying to prove it to disinterested Americans.  The rest is history, manufacturing has been on a decline since 1968 (according to Dr. Deming).

Why?  Because the new method Dr. Deming taught has never been fully accepted by Americans.  Sure we have had our run in lean, TQM, etc. but the thinking never changed.  All of these efforts have been focused on the front-line while Dr. Deming focused his System of Profound Knowledge on management.  American management unwilling to change has led us to our current state.

Americans have become masters of manipulation with the wrong-headed ideas that attention to financial and productivity measures is the key.  Nothing could be further from the truth and each time there is a promise to manage costs better . . . costs go up and productivity goes down.  Ignorance is killing us.

I have found that service organizations and governments are still managing in the old style – doing the wrong thing, righter.  Doing things the old way is not only ineffective, but damaging.  Stuck in the re-frame of “Hey, Jude.”

Maybe these service industries have no pressure, but performance is poor.  We have seen it in banking, HVAC industry, auto repair and many others.  Management believing there is only one way to manage and continuing to make things worse in the eyes of their customers.  Soon a reckoning is coming to every service industry in the same manner that manufacturing was rolled.

Just as with the Fosbury Flop, service industry faces new method in the coming years.  Where the old ways are being replaced with new method in the design and management of work.  The size or current stature of an organization matters little as large service companies operating under old method will fall to those with new and better methods no matter there size.

The good news is that thin service change is rapid, there are no machines or inventory like manufacturing.  Organizations adopting better methods containing  the thinking of Dr. Deming and Taiichi Ohno can capture market share quickly while reducing costs (without a focus on costs).  But remember, it is the thinking and not the tools that will make things better.

Change is coming to America, will you have your company ready for the next Fosbury Flop?

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at info@newsystemsthinking.com.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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A Fundamental Thinking Problem

I have been a part of many “discussions” this week.  Most of them around my posts that challenge conventional wisdom on things such as best practices, targets and incentives.  I usually find that people conclude that organizations just aren’t using it (technology, measures, rewards, etc.) right or people are to blame (stupid people).  When I suggest it may have to do something with the way we think about the design and management of work . . .  the response is some variation of “no, that isn’t it.”

But that is it!
We are putting all of our resources into the wrong things. Like:

  • inspection and monitoring believing they make quality services
  • the belief that economies of scale will reduce costs
  • the belief incentives will motivate people
  • leaders need visions
  • managers need targets
  • technology to drive change

Businesses and government have become dysfunctional based on flawed thinking.  A better way to think about the design of work . . . we reference as systems thinking.  By taking people to the work and getting knowledge we can show them new ways to improve and it exposes problems to the way they currently think.  It is that shift in thinking, but egos and position get in the way.  The (typical) US mindset inhibits us from admitting mistakes in our thinking and moving on.  One is left to ask,”How could I have been so wrong about the design and management of work?”  It is to admit failure from some people’s mindset.

The Better way, you may never have heard of
The ability to discard thoughts of failure in favor of learning is a fine line.  Can we not learn or was that only for when we were in college?  The management paradox of new thinking may be the decider.

The above table offers a change to the fundamental thinking we have all been taught as the best way.  Our only hope is to continue to improve the way we think about the design and management of work.  There will always be a better way to do something.

The wonderful thing that happens as we change thinking is that we are given the ability to improve exponentially.  The improvements are large and will give any organization employing it an unprecedented competitive advantage in improving service, cutting costs, improving culture and innovation opportunities.

Looking for strategic change management that gives you wholesale business improvement requires a change to the fundamental thinking about work and how it is managed.

Leave me a comment. . . I can take it!  Click on comments below.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at info@newsystemsthinking.com.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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IBM = I've Been Moved (Outsourced)

OK, I just took Chase out back and gave them a blogging.  Now IBM has a turn.  In the WSJ this morning (IBM to Cut U.S. Jobs, Expand in India), it was announced that IBM was eliminating 5,000 jobs. Those that read my blogs know this isn’t the typical pushback, but I can certainly understand why Lee Conrad is trying to organize the Communications Workers of America.

The really distasteful part is that decision is made by executives and bean counters that have no understanding of the work or their understanding is tainted by command and control thinking.  This means they have financial targets to hit and whoosh 5000 jobs are gone. 

What about the damage to employees that are training their replacements.  Like the WSJ says IBM had them do.  I can hear it now, “I want you to work with someone that will be replacing your job in a few months and tell them every thing you know.  Oh, and you can keep that job if you are willing to take say a 40% pay cut and live in a foreign land.”  WOW . . . is my job meaningful.  This is something only out of Dilbert.

The whole IT outsourcing strategy works off the premise that software is a production line of functional separated work “where we can take this piece and move it over there and this piece over here and . . .”  I have never found this idea to work well in software development.  The developers need to see and understand the work of their customers in order to build good software.  This is no place to apply scientific management theory.  Doesn’t this industry already have a bad reputation for missed timelines, overdue projects, cost overruns and the corresponding results lead to increased costs for the customer rather than lower.  Now we are going to take the developer and move them 1000s of miles away from the customer and get better software?

This is technology change management, we can’t believe in and in reality will wind up costing IBM more in total costs that the bean counters can’t see in the financials and the executives can’t see in the work.  There is a better way . . . systems thinking.

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Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Bonuses

Nothing emits more emotion and discussion in my conversations and speeches than incentives and bonuses.  My position is against them in that they cause waste, sub-optimize and drive the wrong behavior in individuals and managers.  Most people politely listen, a few strongly agree and there are those that call me a communist, socialist or unAmerican.  For the latter, my response is either “you mean . . . opposed to the dictatorship you have here” or “show me in the US Constitution or Bill of Rights, your right to bear bonuses and incentives.”

Why is it that bonuses and incentives equate to “all things American” in some people?  There are no democracies in business, they are run in dictatorship (command and control) style.  No one votes for what project to do next, these are decisions by management.  So why is it that this decision-making process is seen as American and a conversation against bonuses and incentives seen as unAmerican?

What do I have against bonuses and incentives?  Let’s take an intellectual look:

  1. Bonuses and incentives sub-optimize.  The focus is usually on an individual, department, team and group.  AIG has brought this to the forefront:  How does a company that loses billions pay out bonuses?  They focus on the individual.  Dr. W. Edwards Deming taught us that 95% of performance has to do with the system and 5% the individual (see Red Bead experiment).  I recommend an understanding of variation is in order for any manager. So why do we focus so much on the individual?  When it creates winners and losers and manipulation of the system to win.
  2. They become the de facto purpose.  The purpose needs to be expressed in terms of serving customers and not . . . will I make my bonus.  Be honest, it does cover up REAL purpose.
  3. Typically are accompanied by performance and financial targets.  If I hit my individual (or group) financial and performance targets not only does it sub-optimize and set a defacto purpose, but lead to cheating and creation of waste.  We also will never know with targets how well we could do with purpose-related measures.  We stop when the target is hit.
  4. They drive out intrinsic motivation (Theory Y) in favor of extrinsic motivation (Theory X).  Not all extrinsic motivation is bad . . . like pay.  But if I doubled your pay, would I double your performance?  The answer is “of course not” not unless the system changes (work design, enabling technology, policy, etc.) will I be able to improve performance.  Bonuses can drive out our intrinsic nature to do better.

These are all attributes of a command and control organization.  A better leadership strategy is a systems thinking one.  A systems thinking organization looks to those things that distract from purpose which (again) is serving the customer.  Those wanting to accomplish strategic change management might want to explore a more American way.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  He is focused on exposing the problems of command and control management and the termination of bad service through application of new thinking . . . systems thinking.  Download free Understanding Your Organization as a System and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at info@newsystemsthinking.com.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt.

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