Defining Your “History of Change”: The Benefits

SOURCE: Kay Sever | June 1, 2019

Kay Sever

Ten days ago we celebrated Memorial Day. Each year on that day we stop to remember our country’s history and those who died to protect our freedoms. Through the decades, many of our relatives and friends volunteered to risk their lives and some of them lost their lives in the process. My grandfather fought in WW1 and was in Germany when the war ended. My dad went to Europe on the Queen Mary in 1942. Grandpa and Dad both came home, but my husband’s family lost two brothers on D-Day. Each family’s link to our military and its past is different but on Memorial Day we all stop to remember and honor those who lost their lives.       

Because we know our history, we appreciate the struggle of the past and understand how we got to where we are today. This is true for our country… and for our companies.

Have you ever looked back on the history of change in your company? For older companies, this journey can be especially interesting and valuable for the executives and site management teams. New perspectives can be gained about an organization’s success at changing… what went fast and what went slow… expectations about results and change that were met and celebrated… and expectations that were not met, perhaps more than once.

When defining your company’s “change path”, it is important to ask several questions about each initiative, starting with the first one. Here are some questions to start that discussion:

  1. When did management recognize that a new initiative was needed?
  2. What triggered the desire to change at this time? (low commodity prices, high costs, many problems or breakdowns, people that would not work together, etc.)
  3. What were the goals of that initiative (higher profits, lower costs, better communications and working relationships, stronger leadership team, etc.)?
  4.  Did the company achieve its goals for change?
  5. If yes, what changes made then live on today?
  6. If the changes made were not sustained, what was the cause?

You may be asking why the leadership team should pursue this kind of exercise. Why not just focus on the present and future because the past can’t be changed? You are right… the past can’t be changed, but looking back with a strategy has two benefits:

  1.  It gives you some insight on your company’s historical success with change and
  2. It helps you identify a PATTERN that reveals a HIDDEN BARRIER that was NEVER REMOVED by a past initiative… a barrier that prevented you from sustaining the benefits that you worked hard to achieve… a  barrier that caused you to FORFEIT future benefits of change.

An unremoved barrier to change can cost a company millions of dollars over time… losses that are never measured or recorded… losses that the leadership team are unaware of… losses that cannot be stopped until the barrier is intentionally removed by those with the power to remove it.     

It is important to realize that almost all barriers to change are caused by people, not equipment. Management has TOTAL CONTROL over these barriers, and removing them will yield more money and happier people. The function of “barrier removal” cannot be assigned to the workforce. Most of the barriers that remain untouched by change initiatives reside within the management system; only   management has the authority and power to remove them. Removing barriers is management’s MOST IMPORTANT JOB during any change initiative because only then is ROI maximized and change sustained for the long-term.    

Thought for the month: When hidden barriers to change are removed, a “new way to work” becomes “our way to work” every day at every level in the company.   


Kay Sever is a leading expert in reducing financial losses caused by corporate cultures, optimization and change barriers. She has developed a management training system called MiningOpportunity which is based on her 20 years of experience working with mines and plants to reduce the losses they never measure… losses linked to corporate culture, hidden excess capacity and change barriers. MiningOpportunity modules teach executives and management teams how to find and quantify their losses and apply strategies and tactics that stop them. Unique insights from Kay’s 3-year study of management’s barriers to change and optimization are included in the content. See for her contact information and several training options for your team, including the NEW “Spend a Day with Kay” option.

Kay Sever
Kay Sever Author
P.O. Box 337 Gilbert, AZ USA 85299-0337

Kay has worked side by side with corporate and production sites in a management/leadership/consulting role for 35+ years. She helps management teams improve performance, profit, culture and change, but does it in a way that connects people and the corporate culture to their hidden potential. Kay helps companies move “beyond improvement” to a state of “sustained optimization”. With her guidance and the MiningOpportunity system, management teams can measure the losses caused by weaknesses in their current culture, shift to a Loss Reduction Culture to reduce the losses, and “manage” the gains from the new culture as a second income stream.