Most would agree we do, after all, senior members of an organisation consider it standard practice to 'chunk' responsibilities.
Once chunk'd, they have other people take care of each chunk, seeing Business Unit, Function, Section and / or Department heads reporting upwards against the targets that comprise the big picture.
But we all know this often leads to silo thinking, departmentalisation and demarcation full of narrow KPI's and performance targets, often in conflict with other sections of the business... the classic example being a procurement department being tasked to reduce cost. They achieve their targets at the expense of the quality department and production departments rising scrap and rework rates (due to lower price equating to poor quality parts) and increasing lead-times (due to late deliveries from cheap suppliers and more time consumed rectifying mistakes). This focus on 'reducing cost' with a narrow mind-set often looks good while the consultants are on-site, justifying their invoice, but over the long-term, it often leads to no overall improvement and in some cases, forcing a step backwards as poor quality impacts reputation and market share to a level that makes any cost savings from the procurement budget pale into insignificance against the damage it does.
To resolve these internalised 'conflicts of interest' (conflicting KPI's), the industrial world has been inundated by tools, techniques, methods and models, originating from successful organisations like Toyota (TPS / Lean) and from academics and other individuals. These tools are the barganing chips used between business and consultants the world over. A few examples of model & tool originators (among thousands) might include PDCA and SoPK from Deming, SMED from Shingo, Kanban from Ohno, and Prof. Ishikawa giving us a problem solving model (Fishbone), while Nadler and Tushman provided us their 'Congruence' model and the world of 'TPS / WCM / Lean' eventually declared you 'Can't do lean without Hoshin Kanri'. This statement was made because the market started to realise the application of tools to hit narrow and short-sighted KPI's more often led to the kind of 'Kamikaze Kaizen' described above, than delivering truly sustainable improvements.
The same applies to Six Sigma (Keki Bhote / Motorola) another set of tools, in this case, claimed to be an adaption of Dorian Shainin's DOE methods and not what Motorola actually used to realise their success through the 1990's. (They say history repeats itself - this sounds very similar to Taylor and the term scientific management, coined by Brandeis as part of a rate claim against the railway and promoted as 'The Cure' to production efficiencies when there was little substance behind Frederick W. Taylors approach, with fewer success stories than failures).
Frankly we've been, and remain, swamped with tools (understood in immense detail) which, when applied to various sectors (industry, banking and public) fail to follow through on the often false promises made about them. The application of tools in the West over the last 40+ years has NOT produced a proportionate quantity of organisations who have replicated Toyota's success. So there's obviously something missing.
Then there's Systems Thinking (Akoff et al), Theory of Constraints (Goldratt) and the strategic models like Balanced Scorecard (Which doesn't IMHO quite deliver what Hoshin does).
The point is, at the top of an organisation, you look at the broad picture, the longer term issues, the big projects and to focus on those, you don't dig too deep, you don't generally get into the detail. (You fail to identify the devil). Conversely, the further down the hierarchy you go, the narrower your view can be and the fewer tools you have to know. But, the more detail you have to know about the specific tools applicable to your job. You are expected to 'sweat the small stuff' (and understand the devil). This is done in various ways, for example, by video analysis of tool changes as part of SMED, or by Process-flow-mapping as part of a Waste elimination exercise in pursuit of Single Piece Flow etc. etc. However, knowing the detail, you are not considered as someone who can comment on the big issues (you can't manage upwards!). You are asked to accept and apply tools on the assumption that what you're instructed to do makes sense in respect to the bigger picture ... even when your knowledge of the detail, allows you to see the bigger picture (and any inherent problems with the big plans) in a different context.
When this 'failure to communicate across cultural layers' approach hits a barrier (invisible and not understood in devilish detail) and progress isn't being made, the senior members, taking responsibility for the 'big picture' engage HR or consultants (or both) to go to work on issues like 'Alignment', 'Policy deployment', 'Engagement', 'ownership', 'autonomy' (and following the recession, 'Culture Change') having assumed the problem is with the workforce [Which is Blame & projection - and part of the cultural problem]. Once agreed that 'They' need to be 'changed', the work is usually designed in line with management theory from 30+ years ago ... and relative to the on-going application of 'tools'. It sells of course, it sells like hot-cakes, because this is what those leading change expect from the market of change which hasn't changed with the times; this too fails to deliver what's promised.
So what are we missing? After all, what I've described here reflects the approach taken by the majority of all public and private sector organisations across the planet.
If we've totally missed a massive part of the 'success from change' equation, what is it? What's the KEY?
Well, what if the detail we pay attention to on-paper (improvement tools / finances / strategy / structure / systems / staff etc.) is only half of what achieves the end result in the real world?
What if there's a big hole, a vacuum, a void where there needs to be more detail? (Do we need to avoid a void?)
Tools Application + Standard management approach = Barriers to change & Uncertain change-program results
What if, that is the 'way of the world' when 'Change' and 'improvement' is approached with knowledge, attitudes and methods inherited from the past? The generally accepted summary of Stats, which state 75% of all change programs fail, or go over time, or over budget, (or both) confirms this is the case for 3/4 of all activities around the world! (IT, Lean, M&A etc. etc. - i.e. all types of organisational change, not just lean).
Q. Accepting this, what other process would you buy in the knowledge there was a 75% chance it would fail, take too long or cost too much?
Presented with stats like this (consistently for years) we have to ask, is the whole approach to 'Change' which has evolved over these past decades really an Elephant in the room, dressed in the Emperors New Clothes?
If we can entertain that idea for a second, we might ask, "so what else is required in the equation to make the output to the right of the equals sign 'Sustainable success'?"
Well, here's the massive irony. In a way, we were given the answer by those first bringing TPS to our shores 40 years ago. But we ignored it.
Back in the day, when first translating TPS (ignorant of TMS, The Toyota Way Philosophy etc.) we were told there are three types of Waste. Muda, Muri and Mura.
The world quickly got to know that Muda is the Japanese name for the 7 wastes - (process inefficiencies). But few were able to take the broad translation of Muri and Mura to heart in any meaningful way. These wastes were typically described as overburden and spiritual imbalance, so it's no wonder the western CEO's of the 70's and 80's dismissed it as irrelevant in favour of measures and metrics that could be reported in the P&L statement, showing their investment in a change programme had a positive, (if short-term), ROI.
NOW, let's wind the clock forward 40 years and Enter stage right - Neuroscience and Psychology.
With the massive leap forward the latest science drops at our feet, it's now easy to see Muri and Mura as they were understood in Japan way back when. Over-burden might be considered 'Stress' and Spiritual Imbalance might be something along the lines of 'Cognitive Dissonance' (Emotional discomfort from conflicting world-views).
The latest stats identifying lost productivity from Stress alone would give most CEO's heart failure when converted into financial terms. And the data just keeps building ... and building ... and building, to show the negative effects on people, in respect to mental and physical health. The damage comes from the presence of stressor hormones in our systems. Triggered by the 'conditions' in which people find themselves, heightened levels of stress can become 'Chronic' rather than sporadic. That means, we learn to live with a level of stress while failing to realise how much it detracts from our performance as employees, parents and partners in all walks of life.
Now, if we recognise the fact that the 'Tools' are inert and incapable of doing anything themselves (you can't buy 2Kg of Kanban and a 14lb SMED hammer to deliver line-side stock and reduce change-over times), we must subsequently acknowledge the 'tools' are just principles applied by people ... and if 'People' (brains and minds) are not comfortable with the rationale behind change in general, or the application of these 'new' principles, their neuro-psychological make up will respond in just the same way it would respond to any 'threat', it will oppose / avoid / retreat from the change (fight or flight), and release the 'Stressor hormones' associated to our defence mechanisms. Once present, this on-board chemical imbalance detracts from performance.
This is the Key - understanding the detail of tools can be considered 20-25% of successful change. The other 75-80% of successful change is people-centric. Change is about the acceptance of those principles (and indeed anything new) by people at all levels of the organisation. This means they have to change the wiring and firing in their brain in respect to whatever the 'new' something is, and there are a whole lot of rules and reasons why that level of change takes time and just the right stimulus to achieve. If we now acknowledge the whole of the western world has focused on change provided by the 20-25% tools and principles and failed to address or even acknowledge the change provided by the 75-80% tools and principles that apply to 'Neural adaption', we will no longer marvel at the fact we have a 75% change programme failure rate reported globally!
Understanding the mechanics of 'acceptance' and the way in which leaders lead and create the Physical, Emotional and Social conditions to either engage or alienate (attract or repel) is the catalyst behind sustained cultural success. In the absence of this knowledge, the result can necessarily only ever be a repeat of the past. Fortunately, this knowledge is now available in detail, and in simple terms everyone can understand at any level of a business.
In the face of the latest knowledge from the worlds of Neuroscience and Psychology, the new equation might look something like this:
Tools Application (20%) + Neuro-psychologically aware leadership (80%) = Increased Acceptance & Maximised sustainable improvement opportunities.
Developing your leadership teams, so they can understand the devil in this detail is just one of the reasons Duxinaroe exists.
For more information or for an initial informal and completely confidential chat about your development needs, be it H&S, Lean Leadership or help with an existing change programme, contact us today.