01 June 2010 ~ 0 Comments

more gas

more gas

Things need to change around here. I think I know exactly what’s needed.

Business textbooks, MBA courses and the common logic around change prescribes more. More process, more people, more money.

A friend who was moving to the US from France told me of a theory he’d heard about American companies. When there is a problem, American companies immediately apply ‘more gas’.

If something is broken, if a company isn’t performing well, the last thing to do is add on top of the mess. Instead refine, simplify, intertwine people and communication and focus only on doing one or two things exceptionally well.

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17 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments

two for change

two for change

There are two layers to change: the people and the environment. Change only one and, well, no change.


This isn’t necessarily the physical person. Sure, there are people who don’t work out in the role that they are in. Many people are in a place where they really cannot succeed. Nobody is stupid, however everybody is good with at least one thing and this may not be that thing for this person.

People’s attitudes can and often change too. Add a few new faces to the environment and people will tend toward the people that are most like themselves or what they perceive themselves to be. Failing that, the person with the most promising story or aesthetically pleasing qualities. Yes, human beings are fickle that way (for example; the draw of the busty blonde sales girl in the technology sector remains, sexism aside, an incredibly effective mechanism to make sales).

If the environment stays the same, people and their attitudes default back to how things were. Even a new person will naturally gravitate to the behaviors and flow of the environment surrounding them, which is most often the same behavior as the person they succeeded.


The seating arrangements, the processes, the interactions between people, the way to gather people together, the communication channels, the nature and attitude of the communications, the lighting, the software packages, the color of the walls and flooring, the brand of coffee and what people wear all have a strong psychological effect on those immersed in the environment.

Cube farms are especially strong, unmovable constants in any environment. It’s almost a nest-like paradigm at play to those forced to be in them for eight hours every working day.

Change the environment and you begin to agitate the people in it. This causes discomfort, which is not a bad thing. It is change you are after, after all, and it is not going to come about without some element of anxiety.

However, changing the environment but not adapting or modifying people’s roles and purpose in that environment encourages the pull back to how things used to be.

Inspire the people you have to want to do something different, something infinitely better. Spend time with every person individually and find out what their one great skill or talent is then change their world to make the most of this for your business. Adapt the world around them to let them be the best they can at this.

As an example: if a person is in technical support, complaining about how the company is not helping the customers as best they should be… don’t beat them up for complaining. Don’t listen and ignore.

Change their responsibilities and put them in charge of customer support (and fire or move the person who is in charge of that today, as they may not be doing the best job they can be). Physically move their seat and desk and place them in a different setting. Tell everyone that this person is now in charge of how customer’s are dealt with. If this person wins, lots of other people win.

Shift the attitude of people and surroundings ninety degrees out of kilter from where it was and watch the change take hold and spread.

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06 January 2010 ~ 0 Comments

one two three change

one two three change

Change is tough to absorb for anyone. Even the biggest change junkies I know (myself included) have some mental adjustments to make when change happens.

If you’re having to introduce change to a person, team or crowd, here are the steps I’ve seen repeated time and time again in a successful change event:

The first time around
Before you begin, make sure everyone knows what’s about to happen. The easiest way to attract a negative reaction is to keep folk in the dark.

In the first time through a new process, there is always a high degree of discomfort within everyone involved. The new process is brand new and the participants spend the majority of their effort getting familiar with it.

Expect a high degree of negativity, procrastination and confusion. Your role in this is to micro manage ever step of the process. Focus on the process, not the people. Make adjustments to the process only where strictly necessary.

Time two
As uncomfortable as it may have been (and it ALWAYS uncomfortable or you’re not doing it right), round one brought familiarity with the process. The second time through finds the gang knowing the direction but trying to fully figure out their role in it. Or, more specifically, what they want their role to be in the process.

Never underestimate the willingness of individuals to drive toward what they want to do versus what they’re told to do. Observe the people with a magnifying glass and adjust roles accordingly.

Third time lucky
The process is now known. Good. The people who are riding the rails of the process have found their place. Even better. Familiarity kicks in.

The third time around is the first time the change starts to become habit for everyone involved. Participants will start to talk authoritatively on what needs to happen. From here forward you can make refinements and slowly start to retract from the management of the change, process and people and move on to changing the world.

Be the boss throughout. Don’t criticize or join in the negativity. Take the high ground, make it make positive sense for everyone involved.

Sitting on your ass doing nothing will result in nothing. Bring change. Feel uncomfortable. It is up to you and no-one else to make it work.

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