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The Journey of Change

Expanding Change and Capability

Episode Five

In the last episode, we discussed Breaking the Status Quo. This is achieved by securing the first result of the program and overcoming the “Going Deeper” challenge, where people realize that the only way to ensure that the change journey is truly successful, is to begin to change their own personal habits and behavior patterns.

We've come a long way in the journey, overcoming many challenges. Our commitment and persistence have been rewarded with financial improvements across all themes, trending in the right direction. We have experienced multiple “Aha” moments leading up to this point and we have witnessed visible changes in people's behaviors. It is now time to apply these approaches and discoveries to other areas, to make change happen in a deeper and richer way as we focus on expanding change and capability throughout the organization. At this point, momentum is near it's peak and we often find that areas of the business previously untouched by the change program, are reaching out to learn from insights and experiences from those that have been heavily involved. Team members take delight in sharing learnings, new tools and models, and helping others to implement practices from which they have benefitted. Teams are capable of solving their own problems, now that new and/or improved processes are in place. They now have new meetings and methods for analyzing process data to unblock obstacles, and a buzzing excitement and energy as innovation and creativity are a part of how teams work together.

What you do speaks so LOUD that I cannot hear what you SAY." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Additionally, leadership has been demonstrating new behaviors and personal changes in their leadership style – they have shown vulnerability in accepting feedback, and making changes to the way they lead and interact with others. This change in leadership is encouraging others to embrace that they too need to alter their behaviors and habits to unlock the next level of performance. There is a deep realization at this point in the journey that “my” personal behavior has a critical influence on my team’s performance and the results achieved. Regular coaching is in place to help people recognize and question their own limiting beliefs. This coaching helps others deepen their learning by raising awareness, by helping them to identify and embrace the changes that they need to make on a personal level, and by encouraging them to reflect on the impact of the changes they are making.

"Learning how to deliver superior results faster by motivating people and growing their capability is a key source of shareholder value and competitive advantage for our clients. It is the “magic” that enables all successful organizations to maximize the return on their strategy, assets and investments." Rupert Hucker, CEO, Evolve Partners

While this type of behavior is being demonstrated by leaders at this stage in the journey, it is important to note that it does not come without it's challenges. This is a form of personal change that can be uncomfortable and resisted as often as it is embraced. It implies loss involved for the experienced leader in changing their habitual ways. This type of learning is termed “supplantive learning,” in contrast to simple “additive learning” in that instead of just adding new knowledge or skills, supplantive learning calls into question previous ways of acting and prior knowledge or beliefs, and replaces with new skills and beliefs, through a process of de-stabilzation, disorientation and re-orientation. ATHERTON J S (2003) Doceo: Learning as Loss 1

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” - Leo Tolstoy

For those who have been quick to embrace the vulnerability and discomfort, the rewards are bountiful as they are able to connect their new revelations to significant step changes in results. For those to whom vulnerability does not come easily, this type of learning can leave their self confidence shaken.

Jordan was the Operations Leader for a large oilsands plant that was shifting into its next major phase of expansion. While the previous phases of facilities construction and Phase I production had been successful, they paled in comparison with the scale of what was envisioned in the plans for capital investment in the asset. Jordan reflected on how the behaviors and ways of working that supported the success to date, might not be the ones that will lead to success in the current phase. Teams had “papered over” underlying process inefficiencies with a “just get it done, whatever the cost” attitude. Functions operated in silos to get their piece of the plan in place and communicated with other areas on a need-to-know basis. Production losses, equipment failures and other incidents were not captured with any great rigor since people worked in a fragmented and less-than-integrated way, where few teams had any visibility of overall performance (and how they fit in). Jordan described the situation “as if these all sat in separate pools. You stay in yours. I'll stay in mine. Just focus on your area and everything will be fine.”

Jordan became a vocal proponent of transforming the organization into a more integrated operation where people had clear line of sight to overall performance and where each group worked cross-functionally to deliver the outcomes necessary to realize improvements to safety, production, cost and growth. He also knew, from his experience in re-building the Operations Leadership Team earlier in the program, that he needed to involve others in “supplantive experiences” that would shift their beliefs about working together. Through a series of workshops, facilitated design sessions and initial trials of new ways of working, a broad cross-section of operators, engineers, technicians and other support staff were able to co-create the core systems and processes that would eventually enable more integrated performance. Teams from maintenance and operations collaborated on establishing cross-functional performance goals for the plant. Shift leaders and teams worked together to explore what was (and wasn't) working with respect to shift handovers and designed a more effective way of ensuring smooth transitions between shifts. Engineers and front-line operators worked together to get better data on production losses and launch defect elimination efforts to improve reliability together.

Reflecting on this change journey, Jordan and his team saw the power of providing opportunities for a wider set of people to collaborate on “designing the path forward” for themselves. They saw how these experiences gave people a real sense of urgency in creating something new and better performing. They could see the visible progress being made and heard from their teams how satisfying it had been to finally start getting things done at a pace and in a style they hadn't yet seen.

It is tempting at this point to declare and celebrate success and victory for all we have achieved. Results are trending in the right direction and a culture of innovation, creativity, reflection and learning are taking hold. However, there is a final challenge in the journey still to come. This must not be overlooked if the goal is the Relentless Pursuit of Performance. For the organization to truly solve the problems of tomorrow, they must overcome the "Beyond Compliance” challenge.

What is the “Beyond Compliance” challenge? While we have achieved a level of compliance and seen significant results, teams have not yet made the powerful connections which will allow them to truly understand how to use these new learnings when presented with future challenges. We need to move past rote conformity to a place where the organization is able to connect experiential learnings they have had, to ensure future breakthroughs. Teams must internalize the experience to-date, and make the powerful, innate connections between what they have done and how to use these interventions to solve future problems.

Moving past the Beyond Compliance gap means helping teams reflect and reconnect on their experience, to raise their awareness about what they did along the journey, why they did it and the impact it had. Reflection and review are key elements to solidify the experiences so they truly create new habits that take hold in the organization.

Join us next week for the final episode on the journey of change, where we connect the lessons learned that allow you to now move beyond compliance and enable breakthrough performance.

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