Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why Strengthen Your Organizations Change Muscles?

Naturally you will have heard the following phrases in the news and read them in newspapers; climate change, energy crisis, peak oil, hybrid cars, sustainability and many more. These are signs of the beginnings of a huge paradigm shift. A paradigm is a world view, and our view of our relationship to nature is changing. You in companies and organizations will be affected in ways that were unthinkable only five years ago. We are in the beginning of a new S-curve or paradigm. The lowest point of the S-Curve marks the beginning of a new world view. The growth of the curve means that more individuals have begun to change and innovate.

Companies and organizations are adapting new ideas that will help us live more healthfully and prosperously on the planet earth. These changes are going to clash often with existing policy and systems and create new challenges. It is not just a matter of a little innovation; it is a matter of a myriad of innovations which must hang together if your organization wants to survive the shift. Your clients or colleagues will be continually asked to readjust, innovate and integrate new behaviors and new ways of thinking in order to keep up.

Technology is already spinning. Cheaper photovoltaics are being developed, advances in wind power equipment, hybrid cars and biofuels. Hydroelectric production and equipment is the next layer of change in the energy field. What might this mean to your organization? It means careful with investments because, just like computer’s, energy sources will both improve and change, making your expensive investments out of date. More local power stations to prevent brown and blackouts will be adapted by companies. Unlike computers, where basic knowledge can be used even though the programs and machines are upgraded, changing energy sources or equipment could involve totally different technologies and high costs.

Technology is not the only area impacted by the changing world view. Mass production and the idea of “Bigger is best” is being replaced by local and transparent. Individuals want to know that their food is fresh; grown without chemicals, pesticides and that the money they pay for it stays in the local community. People want to know that the companies they buy products from have control over every stage of product development. They want to know that no pollution occurred as a result of obtaining the raw materials, that the workforce was paid and treated properly and that their health and working conditions were satisfactory. Now many can get away with saying that they will try. As the S-Curve grows trying will not be good enough, it must happen. As a company, you will be increasingly expected to open your books and processes to consumers.

The building industry is awash with new, renewable products that do not pollute, are strong, cheaper to produce and use less wood. Window glass that reflects or draws in warmth, while not effecting light transfer, is now available. Wind and solar power solutions to home energy make homes increasingly less dependent on the mass energy networks of the “mass production” era.

The changes in values and thinking, plus new duties, routines and responsibilities increase in intensity until the S-Curve reaches the top. Climbing the S-Curve requires mussel. Companies are going to have to train their ability change and then stretch to meet new ways of doing things. Just like athletes, train and stretch and compete. Then it will be time for more new changes!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

After the lay-offs - a consultant inquires

I got a call from a customer today, a business consultant and she asked some very important questions about Foresight Styles.

She began with a little background: I have been contacted by a production company that has just laid off a number of workers and the rest will be doing their work plus that of those who have been laid off. How can Foresight Styles help me in this task?

My response: A change has already occurred. Clearly the CEO is hoping that the remaining employees jump in and get to work. What expectations does he have for your possible intervention?

Consultant: He wants to know that I offer something that will positively effect his bottom line. That productivity will increase and that earnings will rise. It could be that he wants me to give the workers bad news or press them to work harder. It could also be that he has a desire to assure that the employees who are left are given the best chance to succeed with their work and show new profit highs.

My response: Does the CEO know what kind of responses to expect from his employees? Does he think the workers fall into place and work to raise productivity and income? Foresight Styles Assessment could give him an idea of the type of company the employees feel they are working in:

a Cutting Edge Company that sees new solutions to old problems, A state-of-the-art firm which is first out with new ideas that challenge other production companies.

a New Thinking company that changes the way business is done. They focus upon that which dramatically threatens their survival, articulate the danger for their employees and become a will articulated force for change.

a Quality Lift organization uses best practices and implements new innovations successfully tried by others. It uses benchmarked or best-practices obtained from successful companies in the same field.

a High Profit company looking for lucrative opportunities. Their goal is to assure a constant income flow.

a Corrective company seeks to maintain balance. They maintain that which is traditionally successful while adding new products or equipment which corrects for changes occurring in the external environment.

a Structural company is a pillar in their community with well-known trademarks. It is however fading, living upon its reputation and can only survive as long as their reserves hold out.

If the CEO and leadership group identify their company profile, the leadership version and the employee version could be compared. FSA could give clients insight into the way employees see the company by creating a group profile from their responses to FSA. Differences would mean some work is necessary, if it is about the same then the business is on the correct track. If the management view and the employee view do not match, it means that they are working in different directions. The straightest way to a healthy bottom line is when all members are working for the same goal.

Consultant: What if the CEO or employees are hesitant about responding to a questionnaire? They have taken them before and gotten their hopes up and nothing has happened.

My response: FSA begins with a response on an individual level. It is a tool for personal growth. Respondents need to know before taking it that their specific responses go only to them, not their boss, HR or anyone else. In a group profile, which higher management does see, individual profiles will not show, only an indication of the kinds of competence for change they have within the organization. Whether or not the company uses this information as the basis for an organizational intervention does not eliminate the personal growth potential for individuals. The FSA Manual gives a few suggestions about how one can grow from FSA. Employees have to see what is in it for them personally.