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This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Little Lessons Along the Way to Lean -- I've come across another weblogger out there, Gary Lister from the USAF, with an entertaining view of "lean" and of continuous process improvement. Anyone who features lean lessons distilled from Andy, Opie, and Barney, not to mention Aunt Bee, is someone worth watching. Watching for what, I'm not sure, but definitely worth watching. An excerpt from May 7...
"Will Rogers said "There are three kinds of men. One learns by reading. A few learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."

Coarse allegory aside, change agents sometimes have to help folks pee on a fence. You have to help them learn that, despite their natural resistance to it, change can be beneficial.

There are three basic elements in creating successful change:

1. The desire to change
2. The ability to change
3. The permission to change

The Desire to Change

Most humans will not change their beliefs, habits, or behaviors unless they are motivated to do so. Most will not change, even if change is for the better, unless there is come compelling reason. As long as the perceived rewards of staying as we are remain greater than the rewards of changing, we will likely stay as we are. Or, conversely, as long as the perceived risks of changing are greater than the risks for staying the same, we will be unlikely to change.

The Ability to Change

Then even if the motivation for change exists, people will still need some assistance in changing. Those who ignore the dynamics of human behavior, assume that once people understand the need for change, they will miraculously move in that direction.

What holds us back is our ingrained beliefs and resulting behaviors. You may want to become a participative manager but all your previous training has conditioned you to be controlling and directing and, clearly, in charge. And down deep inside, you might really have doubts about this employee involvement stuff. To change your beliefs and ultimately your behaviors significantly, you will need some help.

The Permission to Change

Finally there is the issue of permission. When a change is personal, we only have to give ourselves permission to change. But when the change is in an organizational context, those in power must grant permission.

You may have the desire to change, and you may have the knowledge and ability to change. But if you work in an environment that doesn't enable you to change, very little will happen. Desire and ability are there, but permission is not.

Many people feel they are constrained by those above them and they don't know what to do. Too many of us throw up our hands and ask "What can I do?" rather than say "Here's what I can do."

What you can do as change agent, is help them change. Help them pee on a fence, if you will. The results will be - dare I say it - electrifying."

I know I'm going to probably go back to "Little Lessons..." from time to time, and suspect that Gary's work will end up on my blogroll sooner or later.

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