Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Finding the “Herbie” in Your Change Initiative
Elizabeth Doty


Quite thought provoking regarding the principles of "theory of constraints" to driving change within your company/organization

Eli Goldratt’s “theory of constraints.” Goldratt’s 1984 classic, The Goal, is still one of Amazon’s top sellers in organizational change. His theory is based on the idea that, in the face of interdependencies and variability, maximizing the activity of each part in a system reduces the output of the system. Drawing on the analogy of a scout troop on a hike, Goldratt showed that only one factor determined how fast they would get to their destination: the speed of the slowest scout, a poor soul named “Herbie.” To maximize their speed as a troop, they needed to let Herbie set the pace. They put Herbie at the front of the line, then did everything they could to lighten his load and help him do his best.... 

...When applied to leading change, the theory of constraints reveals that a business can only operationalize real improvement at a certain pace. Yes, your business is more flexible than a factory. But chances are you are wrestling with interdependencies and bottlenecks. And wherever you have interdependencies, your slowest resource governs how fast you will get to your future state. Go faster than this, and you create confusion and waste, undermine your core business, or drift into “fake change” — incurring all of the costs of implementation, with few actual shifts in behavior. The key is to know your business’s limit, and to manage it like a hawk. Here are a few suggested steps, loosely adapted from Goldratt’s Five Focusing Steps:
  • .Identify the current constraints on your progress. Imagine you are a new CEO, looking at your company with fresh eyes. Ask yourself: What function or resource most constrains our progress? Where would the smallest improvement yield the biggest impact on our business? In other words, you need to identify your “Herbie-group.” 
  • Set a pace that supports your “constraint resource.” Rather than viewing your Herbie-group as a “weak link,” think of it as the player on your team that currently has the ball. How well are you blocking to ensure this player gets to the end zone? 
  • Sequence priorities over time. Too often, we sequence change haphazardly based on timelines set by the groups initiating change. Instead, try to introduce improvements in a logical order for the groups on the ground, at the fastest pace they can handle. 
  • Elevate the pace. Next, look for ways to increase your Herbie-group’s capacity by investing in systems, processes, tools, and training. 
  • Pay attention as your constraints shift. Don’t expect to get rid of your constraints! Something always limits your progress; the key is to know where it is. Create a dashboard to help you stay on top of interdependencies and key initiatives across the enterprise

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Posted on June 12, 2016 by Brenton Charnley 

Good article

The three key takeaways and recommendations for those leading innovation and change within your organisation are: 
Lesson 1 – Develop constructive leaders and teams, then innovation (or any objective really) can thriveChance favors the connected mind – Steven Johnson 

It was seemingly clear that there is a direct link between leaders and employees in an organization that demonstrate constructive behaviors were more effective in achieving their objectives. These behaviors are achievement, self-actualizing, humanistic encouraging and affiliative. And why is this? Because organizations don’t innovative, people do. As a leader it is your responsibility to create an environment where people can work together, listen to each other, feel safe to try new things, bring their unique selves to work, and work in a way which encourages true collaboration (not broken down into silos). The result will be more resolution to complex problems, creation of value for customers and continuing innovation. 

Lesson 2 – The power of the group outperforms individuals (most of the time)The sum of the parts is greater than the whole – Aristotle 

This demonstrated a known rule – innovation is a team sport. Very few innovations in our history have been the result of the epiphanies of a single individual, but rather it was the joining of the dots, collaboration or connectivity that allowed innovations to come to light. Throughout history there are examples of innovation being brought together by the intersection of ideas and technologies. In Steven Johnson’s book, “Where do good ideas come from?”, he provided many examples of this occurrence, including the forefathers of innovation Darwin and Edison drawing on others ideas and theories to arrive at their own.Therefore, try and increase the amount of collaboration in your organisation. You can do this through establishing multi-disciplinary teams for projects, using hot desking or seat rotations, running internal pain storming sessions where others try and help solve other teams challenges, getting out of the building and networking or simply catching up for a coffee with another colleague you haven’t met. Increase the number of serendipitous interactions and increase the number of opportunities for new ideas.

Lesson 3 – Find where your organisation spends its energy and help to redirect it towards the constructive behaviors 
Mistakes are the portals of discovery – James Joyce
The notion of energy came up throughout the session. And I thought it was an important one, because we don’t often talk about levels of energy in business. Time and money top the list of common KPIs. I thought, perhaps if we were to regularly monitor levels of energy within a business and where and how we were spending it, we might just be able to move the needle on innovation. This is because often, not only is it lack of time or money that limits investment in innovation, but also the additional emotional, reputational and sometimes physical (stress) drains on your teams energy just to get it across the line.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Companies can tap their natural advantage when they focus on changing a few important behaviors, enlist informal leaders, and harness the power of employees’ emotions. See also “What Is Corporate Culture?”

by Jon Katzenbach, Carolin Oelschlegel, and James Thomas


If the answer to these last two questions is “rarely,” it wouldn’t surprise us. We don’t believe that swift, wholesale culture change is possible — or even desirable. After all, a company’s culture is its basic personality, the essence of how its people interact and work. However, it is an elusively complex entity that survives and evolves mostly through gradual shifts in leadership, strategy, and other circumstances. We find the most useful definition is also the simplest: Culture is the self-sustaining pattern of behavior that determines how things are done. 
Made of instinctive, repetitive habits and emotional responses, culture can’t be copied or easily pinned down. Corporate cultures are constantly self-renewing and slowly evolving: What people feel, think, and believe is reflected and shaped by the way they go about their business. Formal efforts to change a culture (to replace it with something entirely new and different) seldom manage to get to the heart of what motivates people, what makes them tick. Strongly worded memos from on high are deleted within hours. You can plaster the walls with large banners proclaiming new values, but people will go about their days, right beneath those signs, continuing with the habits that are familiar and comfortable 
But this inherent complexity shouldn’t deter leaders from trying to use culture as a lever. If you cannot simply replace the entire machine, work on realigning some of the more useful cogs. The name of the game is making use of what you cannot change by using some of the emotional forces within your current culture differently.