An AHA Moment
The world wide web defines an AHA moment as that moment when you experience a sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension of a concept. I have had one of those AHA moment lately. It began with reflecting on an adage I learned when working for the Borders Group sometime back. The adage tells us not to judge a book by its cover.
Come with me and go back a decade ago, when I picked up a copy of Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline. Like many of you I picked it up a read I because it was the best seller in business at the time. I read it and got some ideas from it but threw the book away when I was done. It was not something I put much value in at the time. I at the time even purchased the field book but disposed of it because it was on my bookshelf, but I never opened it.
Come back to the present. As many of you who follow this newsletter know I am a big proponent of the TLS Continuum thus the title of the newsletter. I firmly believe that there is in existence a continuum or chain if you will which guides the process improvement process. We are not really looking at problems per se nor are we looking the solutions per se, what we are looking at is our systems and how they function within the organization.
At the suggestion of a colleague, I repurchased the Fifth Discipline, the Fifth Discipline Field Book, Dance of Change, and earlier Schools that Learn.
I finished the reread of the Fifth Discipline and thus the moment when a realized, gained insight and recognition of what I had been putting forth for the past decade myself. Senge advocates the view of our processes as systems. Duh, the TLS Continuum advocates that we look at our processes as systems. Now instead of just a book on the shelf, it is a book with 50 paperclips directing me to specific concepts. I am now reading Dane of Change. I am taking Senge’s tools and creating templates for future use with my client base. I am introducing the system thinking concepts into my training. I hear you that is all well and good but what is in it for me?
So let me talk about what is in it for you. The success of any continuous process improvement effort is grounded in the concept of the creation of cross-functional teams. The key to your success is how those teams operate, function, and fit into your organization. You can always create a picture of a cross-functional team without having a cross-functional team.
In order to have a true cross-functional team, Senge suggests several strategies and I totally agree with the suggestion.
Strategy #1: Suspension of Assumptions
Many times, we enter these team environments having made some assumptions about the team, these assumptions are most likely wrong. We assume that we are here because we are told to be, but nothing will be accomplished. We believe that we know what the answer is however face other parties who are out to get us. We assume that the team goal is to cut budgets or manpower. When we make assumptions, we tend to act like we are in a debate and defend our assumptions to the death. Take a page from the Senge book and create a Café exercise. Get the organization together and brainstorm what is of value of the organization both internally and externally. Not centered around the problem at hand but holistically. Why does the organization exist?
Strategy #2: Acting as colleagues
Don’t go into your cross-functional team mode with the preconceived ideas about the other members of the team. Forgo trying to make judgements as to why a certain person is serving on the team. Leave your conflicts with team members at the door. You can fight those out at another time and place. You are all involved in one goal – make your organization and thus serve your customers better, faster and cheaper. It means that part of the team function is to recognize the worth of fellow team members as human beings with feelings, thoughts and attituded. Change the focus from discussions to dialogues.
Strategy #3: Gain a spirit of inquiry
Remember that you are all human capital management scientists. The cross-functional team operates as if you were performing an experiment. Treat the continuous process improvement efforts as such. Be willing to explore all available avenues of knowledge and ideas towards resolving the organizational issues. As we said above move from discussions to dialogues. When discovering the problems look at them from the framework of the café exercise. Utilize the left-hand column tool and look at what you sad compared to what they said. No one is perfectly right, no one is perfectly wrong. Be open to dialogue about all the aspects not just your view.
My AHA moment in rereading Senge’s book is that there was merit in the basis of the Toyota Production system in that we learn by doing. We more clearly see the intertwining of our problem-solving process with the ideas behind Eric Trist’s Socio-Technical System. We see more clearly the interdependence of all aspects of the organization and how they are totally aligned with the organization’s goals, vision, mission, and the ultimate strategies to create the new corporate normal. We see more clearly the role of the human capital assets in solving the organizational issues. The are not a liability to the organization they are non-owned corporate assets who enhance the value proposition we discussed in the assumption strategy.
Undertake your own Aha moment, Read the Senge titles listed above and implement the tools within your organization with your teams. With your process improvement efforts. With your customers. Remember that we are dealing with a continuum or a chain not a cycle. Spread the strategies up and down the continuum.
About the author: Daniel Bloom knows HR and Change Management. He’s a speaker on transformational HR, a strategic HR consultant and trainer. Looking to ways to enhance your vale to your organization? We now offer virtual fully accredited six-sigma yellow belt certification training. Learn more at https://tls-continuum-learning-center.thinkific.com/courses/the-roa…