SOURCE: Kay Sever | June 28, 2019
This week we will be celebrating the 4th of July holiday. On that date in 1776 the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence (written by Thomas Jefferson). The Declaration documented the “abuses and usurpations” committed by the British against the colonies and justified the actions taken by the colonies to separate from the British and do something different… rule themselves. It also unified the colonies and clarified their purpose and mission. Wording in the Declaration later helped form the basis for the content and intent of the US Constitution, which was ratified in 1789.
The founding fathers and colonists had two choices… they could continue to endure the oppressive actions of the British government as other British colonies had done or they could choose a new future that they could chart and control, one where they could determine their destiny with a new kind of government, a government where they could define their “line in the sand” for what they were willing to tolerate and could establish laws that would protect the freedoms that were worth fighting for.
So… what do the 4th of July, the founding fathers and the Declaration of Independence have to do with making more money, having a better corporate culture, changing faster, or achieving higher ROIs on projects? In this multi-part article, let’s explore the answer to that question with a case study…
In an international assignment, I was asked to help prepare a management team for change and to help them understand the dollars they were leaving on the table. The COO had been in his position for a few months and had worked hard to get to know each member of his team. He was candid about their strengths and weaknesses. He knew that there was a huge opportunity for higher profits given the size of the operation and the events that had happened since his arrival. He also wanted safety to be “top of mind” for every employee. He knew that the kind of change he was hoping for would require the team to step outside of their traditional ways of thinking and working together.
Before I traveled to meet with them, we planned three video calls to get to know each other and begin the change process. During the first call, I told them about “hidden losses” and gave examples of the kinds and size of losses that could be happening on site without their knowledge. The COO was very supportive in his comments about areas that the team might want to explore for possible losses. Then I talked about barriers that would keep them from converting their hidden losses to profit. I emphasized that they would have to make a “conscious choice” to intentionally remove barriers within the team if they wanted to reduce their losses; otherwise, their losses would continue. I asked them about trust… if they trusted each other… there was silence. I could tell that they had not been asked that question before… the focus in their meetings had always been on operating and maintaining equipment, meeting budget, spending money or making money. What could trust have to do with that?
What happened next was a game changer… the COO emphasized the importance of trust and said that without it, they could not get better. Then they “had a conversation” about trust between each other AND reached agreement about how they were going to move forward as they worked together. This conversation was the catalyst for everything they accomplished in the following months.
So, what are the connections between this team’s experience and the 4th of July?
1. The agreement within the management team was much like a “declaration of independence”! It allowed them to step out of their old mindsets and behaviors without fear, acknowledge the past and help each other leave it behind, and build trust with each other so they could make new courageous choices that delivered value that they would be measuring.
2. That first video call became their “Independence Day”! Starting that day, they were free to talk about things that had been kept hidden AND they were free to work together differently and solve problems that had never been solved before. These freedoms generated millions of dollars of additional profit with no capital investment.
Fear and mistrust within a management team are huge barriers to change and financial success. If a management team is not “set free” of these barriers, sustainable change and conversion of hidden losses will not be possible. Weak management team dynamics create losses that are not part of the scope of most change initiatives. A unified management team agrees to a set of team values and standards (that will be not compromised). This agreement is the foundation for maximize profit, faster change, and a sustainable culture shift across the company.
Thought for the month: Declaring independence from the past is empowering for management teams, especially during the change process. However, DON’T DO IT unless your leadership team has agreed to a new set of values and team rules/standards that they will NOT compromise. Otherwise, your freedom from the past will be short-lived (and so will your newly found profit).
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 MiningOpportunity.com for her contact information and several training options for your team, including the NEW “Spend a Day with Kay” option.