What Is The Formula For The Slope Of A Line The Alignment Factor – Addressing Change As a ‘People Challenge’

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The Alignment Factor – Addressing Change As a ‘People Challenge’


You work for an organization that is spending millions of dollars on a very important new process that will completely change how you work and who you work with, and require you to think about your work in a completely new way. The success of the company depends on you and your colleagues!

Are you feeling pretty confident right now? Didn’t think so. In organizations around the world, such challenges are posed every day to the people who do the work of the organization. True, it is rarely expressed so directly. More often than not, an organization simply announces an initiative, whether it’s a new technology, a new process, or a new way of thinking…as if the initiative itself represents the sum total of the change.

This rarely happens. Change is always about people. As startling as our “go get a tiger” example may have been, it at least represents a level of clarity that is often lacking in organizations.

A piece of the people

Dramatic case studies are not hard to find. Take ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) for example. For the uninitiated, ERP is a comprehensive and complex technology initiative that promises system-wide efficiency by sharing common data across all parts of an organization. Many companies that have taken notice have embraced ERP, such as Indiana Jones lifting the golden idol from the Inca temple.

The results have been about as encouraging. (Remember that giant rolling boulder?) For example, in 1999 Hershey’s ERP startup problems cost the company $150 million. That same year, FoxMeyer Corp’s botched ERP installation cost them a $1 billion lawsuit and bankrupted the company. Waste Management abandoned its initiative and had to eat the $150 million cost.

The lesson here is not to avoid this ERP business. Or Total Quality, Culture Mergers, Six Sigma, CRM, Shared Services Model, Supply Chain or any other comprehensive change initiative. Many companies have transformed themselves with these powerful initiatives. No, the lesson here is much deeper. And easier. A Nestlé executive summed up what the company learned in a May 2002 interview with CIO magazine: “Any major software implementation is not really about the software. It’s about change management. . . . When you move to SAP (specific ERP software), change the way people work… You’re challenging their principles, their beliefs, the way they’ve done things for many, many years.” People need to understand the importance of the initiative.

In other words, just because you’ve installed the software and completed the training doesn’t mean your job is done. You’re just getting warmed up. To get powerful results, you need to plug the “people variable” into the equation, which change and communications company Paradigm Learning puts it this way: An equation is a variation on a theme.

This version comes from the head of change at consumer goods giant Kimberly-Clark. Michael Fischer uses the equation to describe why their massive supply chain initiative has been so successful. Kimberly-Clark realized early in the process that changing an entire organization, or even a part of it, is a complex equation.

Much has been said and written about the first element of the above formula, the quality of the change initiative. Although fiendishly complicated, the benefit of this variable is obvious: install the technology incorrectly and it won’t work, end of discussion. Many consultants and much of the change management literature focus on this critical first variable. But it is this other area, people alignment, that is so often overlooked. And this is where you can find a powerful lever. For transformation to take place and to achieve real results in organizations, there must be a coordinated organizational culture – behavioral norms, operating principles, a shared understanding of “how things work around here” – and mental models, often hidden. beliefs, conclusions, assumptions, and ways of thinking that guide how individuals perceive the world.

The Big Transfer: Vision, Knowledge, Responsibility

Cultures. Mental models. Paradigms. It would be nice if you could change them by printing a slogan on a coffee cup, but the experience of countless organizational change agents continues to confirm that this is not the case. People are fiercely resistant to the way they perceive and interact with their world, especially when that change is forced upon them. Organizations that have succeeded in leading the horse to water and drinking suggest that widespread and ready enrollment is a positive.

Being a role model for people:

Not quite. Training means something you do to employees. Here, the goal is the more difficult activity of learning. As theorist David Kolb illustrates, learning occurs when people decide to adopt a new concept, practice applying it in their own context, reflect on their experiences, and ultimately expand its application more comprehensively.

You can’t do that with a PowerPoint presentation. Author Michael Robin suggests an intriguing approach to learning in his powerful article, Learning By Doing: Organizations Discover That Hands-On Experience Produces the Most Valuable Learning (Knowledge Management Magazine, March 2000).

Michael says in it: “In today’s knowledge-intensive global economy, performance is difficult to predict and standard behavior may not achieve success. Companies need to innovate faster, respond to new challenges and discover opportunities to create value. In this new situation, traditional training methods are not relevant in several major areas… … time … and costs.”

The article states that “one of the clearest effects of experiential learning on organizational productivity can be seen in higher levels of retention, which ultimately leads to greater transfer of knowledge into informed action.

While the retention rate for traditional lecture or reading learning is typically only three to five percent, retention rates for experiential learning have reached 80 to 90 percent.

Marathon Oil technology and alignment

Let’s return to the world of SAP for a case study. The organization is Marathon Oil Company, a Houston-based energy company that began its “Project Renaissance” initiative in 2000 to implement SAP for more than 2,400 employees worldwide. In addition to the huge technology component, Marathon from the start treated the renaissance as a people challenge and set out a plan to pass on vision, knowledge and responsibility. And they used the power of experiential learning to do it. A partnership with Tampa-based change and communications experts Paradigm Learning,

Renaissance developed a communication tool called “Discovery Map®”. An eye-catching 4-by-6-foot illustration loaded with data, images, and metaphors related to the Renaissance initiative, the Discovery Map illustrated three components universal to change initiatives: the marathon’s current reality (including their challenges), their vision (or articulation). to where he wants to go) and the means to cross the map from “here” to “to” (in this case, SAP technology represented the bridge).

In a structured learning activity, members of the organization interacted with the dynamic content of the discovery map, connecting its metaphors with their own experiences. The end of this story is remarkable: employees understood and embraced the value of challenging SAP technology. Thanks to this extensive organizational support, the Renaissance came in under budget. And after only 13 months of work (a record in the industry), they were ready. In their reflections, leaders at the highest levels of the organization cited this “commitment,” not technology or software, as the cornerstone of their success. Marathon got it right: it’s alignment. It’s about people.

Corn products streamlines its workforce

Imagine a scenario where the entire top management of an organization is focused on a goal. Now imagine that the majority of the workforce does not understand the purpose. Not only do they not understand it, they don’t even know what the words in the written statement of purpose mean. This is the situation faced by Corn Products, a global leader in food ingredients and industrial starches. Is learner-led, not instructor-led Is team-based Treats learning as a cycle, building on each understanding Allows time for reflection and consideration Embraces mistakes as a means of learning Provides the big picture and develops new mental models

Discovery learning is as follows:

In an effort to strengthen its bottom line and expand its product portfolio, the mantra of the entire senior team became: “We have to improve working capital, we have to improve working capital,” explains director of management and organization David Spirk. development. “But at the meeting, one employee raised his hand and asked: ‘What exactly is this working capital?’ At that moment I knew we still had work ahead of us.” Corn Products executives quickly realized they needed to focus on alignment. In order for the revitalization process to succeed, they had to make sure everyone was on the same page. Mission-critical challenges included understanding that it was critical to success, and even more so, that every employee could make an impact.

To do this, Corn Products chose a unique method … a board game, again based on discovery learning techniques. Paradigm Learning offered Zodiak®: The Game of Business Finance and Strategy as a way to build the understanding, knowledge and, most importantly, commitment to what it takes to achieve Corn Product’s purpose. The Zodiak game put Corn Products employees in the role of business owner for a day and let them run the organization for three simulated years of operation.

During the game, participants learned how to read and prepare income statements and balance sheets, how to analyze numbers, and how to interpret the impact of their decisions on key financial measures such as working capital. As they delved into the game and called their own shots, they became more fluent in the language of business and exposed to the critical financial impact that individuals have on a company’s success. Does it work? Do employees follow what is important to Corn Products? Company managers think so. “It’s important that our people know where this company wants to go and what we need to do to get there,” said Corn Products President and CEO Samuel Scott. “We are all interdependent, and this experience vividly demonstrates to every employee how true that is.”

Organizational change and the stamp of doom

You are in an Inca temple and you are looking for the golden idol of organizational change. Caution. There are traps here. Ask yourself:

What results do you want to achieve? How do you implement change flawlessly…and brilliantly? Finally (and this is an important part): how you align the people in your organization. See the alignment and the prize is yours.

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