It's A Journey. Commit To It.

In an INC. Magazine article entitled,3 Things Great Leaders Do That Achieve Amazing Results”, the author lists Engage, Excite and Empower.

DecisionWise describes engagement as, “…inspiring workers to be sufficiently motivated to contribute to the organization, especially with respect to discretionary tasks.” Engaged employees typically show up on time are focused while working and will often stay late voluntarily to meet a daily task or assignment not yet fulfilled.

Also described by DecisionWise, empowerment is, “…giving employees the authority to make decisions about their jobs.” In other words, they own their part of the business and act as if they own it.

Excitement is completely subjective. Excitement is also fleeting. Think of buying a new car before the first payments kick in. Or consider a romantic relationship. The first few encounters are filled with infatuation (excitement). However, with a new car and relationships, the excitement passes. Success is a long-term commitment that lasts beyond the excitement.

Excitement Is Fickle

Consider organizations that are on top of the next best tool or initiative. A rollout with great fanfare ensues. People are engaged and empowered, but commitment is lacking. A change in management, a difficult situation, some other factor comes into play that overpowers excitement and which is not curtailed by commitment. This is where flavor-of-the-month becomes the cynical view of people in the organization executing the work. They see through the fickle nature of excitement and wish for something better. They become disenfranchised and jaded. They are no longer engaged or empowered.

Commitment Drives Success

The Shingo Institute has developed its Three Insights of Organizational Excellence. Understanding these insights helps anchor an organization in principles. If the principles are appropriate, they inform behaviors which foster commitment.

1. Results Require Ideal Behaviors

It’s long been known beliefs profoundly influence behavior. Often overlooked in business, is the influence systems have on behavior. Systems are designed to deliver a specific business outcome. Systems that guide the way people work, are often designed regarding how they system will influence behavior of the people producing work in the system. Consider all the ghost accounts created Wells Fargo. The system was a competitive, sales-oriented system that rewarded individuals and offices for generating new accounts. The behavior was ghost accounts created to “game” the system and reap financial rewards.

Ken Snyder, Executive Director of the Shingo Institute, states, “The sum of the behaviors of the people within an organization is its culture.” The behaviors of the C-suite, management and associates, including the shop floor, back office or front line are aggregated, into the culture of the organization.

2. Purpose and Systems Drive Behavior

Beliefs are known to profoundly influence behavior. Often overlooked is the equally profound effect systems have on behavior. It is not unusual to find systems designed to achieve specific business results; without consideration of behaviors the system will drive in people. Organizations have an enormous responsibility to align work, management and improvement systems to drive ideal behaviors capable of delivering ideal results.

For example, an employee was queried on a gemba walk about changeover downtime for the machine they were running.

  • The employee stated the downtime for a changeover averaged 45 to 60 minutes. Teams focused on downtime know to the second what their average downtime is.
  • The employee was then asked what throughput for the machine was. 2 units per minute was the response.
  • Then the employee was asked specifically, assuming downtime averaged 60 minutes, what they thought they could trim the downtime to and what they thought the benefit would be. The response was downtime of 30 minutes, with an additional 60 units from the improvement.
  • The employee was asked another question: What would you do to trim that downtime to 30 minutes? The employee thought for a minute and then said they would go to the parts cage with a cart before the machine went down, get the parts for the changeover and have them ready to change out as soon as the machine went down. The changed-out parts would not be returned to the parts cage until the machine was running smoothly after the first good part was produced.
  • The final question of the employee was, why don’t you do that now? The employee pondered for awhile and then responded candidly, “I don’t know. It’s actually in our procedure.”

 

This is not an example of an ideal behavior. But it does represent a significant opportunity for the organization. The question is what in the current design (or lack thereof) of the system is driving the behavior.

3. Principles Inform Ideal Behavior

Principles are rules governing consequences. The more one deeply understands a principle, the more they understand ideal behavior. As one better understands ideal behavior, the better they can design systems to drive ideal behaviors that achieve ideal results.

Organizations desire to be successful long term. In order to accomplish that end, any organization must be diligently focused on how to improve constantly. This is not exciting. It is commitment. Lack of such commitment, whether in the C-suite, management offices or the production floor, back office or front line, will inevitably result in decline. Think of Sears or Kodak.

Commitment is Key

Commitment is fundamental to long term success and a driver for engagement and empowerment. Organizational excellence is the pursuit of every individual within the organization – a passionate pursuit of perfection – an ideal impossible to achieve, the aspiration and drive for which brings out the best across the enterprise. To accomplish this requires the organization to commit.

Commitment is a Journey

Just like the flower garden, the vegetable garden, or prize restored car, commitment is fundamental to success. To understand commitment is to understand that it is a journey to which one must commit. That journey is toward a standard not yet realized, but passionately aspired to. It is a commitment that overcomes the obstacles along the journey, allows for learning from mistakes made along the way and weathers the storms intent on impeding progress. Your journey toward organizational excellence and amazing results, commit, then empower and engage.

Commit. Engage. Empower.

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