Willingness to Change LO5936

Dr. Scott J. Simmerman (74170.1061@compuserve.com)
01 Mar 96 12:26:34 EST

Replying to LO5899 --

Responding to Julie Beedon's Willingness to Change LO5899, and
Jan's "white lies" theme of LO5878 comments, Julie wrote:

>Jan refers to the "white lies" of executives who say they want
to change and then don't. My first take is to not consider them
"white lies" - or worse - but to consider that they are authentic
enough in their desire and lacking in sufficient confidence and

I didn't see this as at all naive... I would see the executives
as being as much part of the system...
** end of quote **

For me, the issues of "lies", systems, leverage and perspective that Julie
is addressing so well is like a wagon being pushed by the support people
and being pulled by leadership

00 ############_____ 0
||< ############ |<
/ /\. [_] [_] /\.

-- but with a *very* long rope, much longer than that shown

So it rolls alonog on its square wheels, Thump, Thump. And the people at
the back of the wagon have no idea of the journey that really lies ahead
-- all they see in front of them are boards and hands.

Leadership, pulling at the front, may be so isolated from the hands-on
reality at the back of the wagon that they sometimes forget that there are
others involved in moving the organization forward. They are also well
insulated from the thump, thumps of the journey forward by this isolation.
And they are so distant that, looking back, they cannot see the round
wheels that are already in the wagon -- the ideas for improvement already

The journey is also compromised because of issues of trust and
communications. The pushers can't communicate well with the pullers
because of distance and different understandings of the skills needed to
operate. (Someone said that pullers are deaf, they don't seem to listen
well, and the Pushers are blind.)

Pullers may not trust the pushers to push -- heck, you can see the tension
in the rope, but how do you know that the people back there are pushing
(and not pulling backwards?). Thus, we might want to add an audit
function to watch them or we might want to add some computerized,
piezoelectric measures of pushing power at some cost to the organization
for the technical improvement. This might also have some impact on the
Perceptions of Trust between the front and back. But we still move
forward, dont't we? But we don't innovate or change.

So management, operating in isolation from the realities of how the wagon
actually works, and motivated by the need to improve speed and reduce
cost, will then begin to consider ideas about improvements to be made.
They know the common issues involved (motivation, communications, cost,
productivity, change, leadership, vision, etc.) and they hear about the
need to reengineer and downsize from their peers in other organizations.
They observe their competitors making progress. So something MUST be done
to meet the competitive factors and maximize shareholder value.

So improvements are initiated (actually done TO the Pushers) -- and we all
Continuous un-improvement is the result.

I believe that ALL people are well-intentioned and would like to do a good
job (even senior managers who are often labeled greedy and insensitive,
etc.). But the isolation combined with the fact that these people are
moved upward in the organization _ because _ of the fact that they are
"good wagon pullers" and the fact that they remember how things worked
when they did that job ("The Older we get, the Faster we were."), causes
dysfunction, poor results, lack of ownership for implementation, and some
of the other issues we're addressing.

The solutions to many organizational issues are seemingly simple -- shared
visions, alignment to values shared by the culture, continuous continuous
improvement, participation and involvement, good communications between
the front and the back of the wagon, and the mindset that we all need to
step back from the pushing and pulling to take an objective look at
reality every once in a while.

Don't Just Do Something, Stand There.

For the Fun of It!

Note: I will repeat my offer to send a transparency of Square
Wheels One to anyone so desiring it -- Free. You can use it like
I do as a one-page training or discussion piece. I will include
some marketing materials on my cartoon training materials and team
building game -- Just send me a snail mail address, pls.


Scott Simmerman Performance Management Company 74170.1061@compuserve.com

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>