One of the fundamental steps in any process of change is to identify accurately your starting point. This is dealt with in more detail in the Five Principles below; however, it is worth highlighting at the start of this chapter. Talk to any CEO or the person tasked with managing change, and over and over again will come the same issue, 'How do you really make change happen?' One of the biggest issues is people and their willingness to take action. CEOs will say, 'I have done everything I can to pass the decision making down the line' or 'I thought I had empowered my people, but nothing happens; all the decisions still come back to me.'
For anyone charged with transforming performance it is vital to surround yourself with people capable of proactively making change happen, rather than the 'silent nodders' who you know are on the surface agreeing, but underneath are part of the silent majority of observers who in any organization may not actively sabotage progress, but who kill it by their unwillingness to take responsibility for making it happen.
Think about your own organization: how many people have the following profile?
offer to help;
willing to learn;
will try different ways of doing things;
show genuine interest in others.
And how many have the following profile?
give the impression of being bored or tired;
rarely offer additional help;
more focused on themselves than others;
prefer to stick to tried-and-tested ways of doing things;
often say 'It won't work.'
It is this contrast in styles that causes the issues when trying to transform an organization. Many organizations adopt anthems, hold motivational events and build inspiring quotes into the fabric of their company; however, this will make little difference unless there is real belief and unity of hearts and minds behind the words. This can only be achieved through a carefully orchestrated and planned process of change.
Daniel Goleman in The New Leaders (2002) talks about true change occurring
through a multifaceted process that penetrates the three pivotal levels of the organization: the individuals in the organization, the teams in which they work, and the organization's culture. Based on principles of adult learning and individual change, such processes take people on intellectual and emotional journeys - from facing the reality to implementing the ideal... the best development processes create a safe space for learning making it challenging not too risky. The experiences have to be different enough to capture people's imagination but familiar enough to seem relevant.
Louis Patler in Don't Compete... Tilt the Field! (1999) takes a similar approach when he describes the core values approach of Lloyd Pickett of Rodel Inc. More than a mission statement, the Rodel Way is the articulation of a set of principles that have guided Rodel's transformation. There are five commitments that constitute the heart of the Rodel Way:
Listening generously: learning to listen for the contribution in each other's speaking versus listening from our own assessments, opinions and judgements.
Speaking straight: to speak honestly in a way that forwards what we are up to. Making clear and direct requests. Being willing to surface ideas or take positions that may result in conflict when it is necessary to step toward reaching our objectives.
Being for each other: supporting each other's success. Operating from a point of view that we are all in this together and that any one of us cannot win at the expense of someone else or the enterprise.
Honoring commitments: making commitments that forward what we are up to. Being responsible for our commitments, holding others accountable for theirs, and supporting them in fulfilling their commitments.
Acknowledgement/appreciation: each member commits to be a source of acknowledgement and appreciation for the team; this includes giving, receiving and requesting.
These commitments fill one side of paper and articulate a goal to which everyone in the company can aspire.
You might like to think about your own organization and whether the Rodel principles apply, or what principles your organization has adopted. You may also want to think about your own motivation to change and, although this is dealt with more in Chapter 3, if you are supporting the transformation of performance it is also helpful to identify your own starting point.