Make no mistake… I consider myself a CHANGE AGENT. What do I mean? What is a CHANGE AGENT? Well… Google says:
“A CHANGE AGENT is a person from inside or outside an organization who helps an organization or part of an organization to transform how it operates. A CHANGE AGENT will promote, champion, enable and support changes to be made in an organization. They focus on people and the interactions behind them.”
OK… now that we all know what a CHANGE AGENT is… how does that fit with this week’s TRIPLE III TIME message title: Change… Just for the Sake of Changing?
Well first it is important for me to report that MANY times during my career I have been questioned and criticized for driving Change… Just for the Sake of Changing! “We’re showing good progress already… change might be bad!” “The way we are structured should be fine for at least another year… why change now?” “We have just gotten ourselves organized around the changes you made last month, why insist on even more?” These are examples of the arguments I have listened to as a result of my CHANGE AGENT initiatives… and yes, they have merit.
However, here is the “flip-side”. I believe organized work-based change… even just for the sake of change is a strategic personnel development engagement. Just like the aging process… you can’t stop it… just as you can’t stop change impacting your workplace. True you can avoid it… delay it or even deny it… but something somewhere is changing in your workplace everyday… EVERYDAY.
So, if your group can begin to view organized change as something to expect and maybe even look forward to… your drive to Change… Just for the Sake of Changing may no longer be viewed as an organizational negative but rather another step toward strategic progress!
Professional Discomfort is a phrase I have used many… many times during my world-of-work career. And I know it has been included as part of past TRIPLE III TIME messages… but I know I have not separated it and explained the drive and purpose for this special combination of two words.
To me Professional Discomfort is a unique continuous improvement activity for personnel at all levels within an organization or business. More specifically it requires workers to place themselves in a new, different, challenging role… that yes purposely causes them Professional Discomfort. Some examples that come to mind include:
- Attending a meeting where you will be expected to address a group of people… when that is not a regular part of your day job.
- Taking a service position on the “front-line” of your company… when you typically just work in the fiscal department.
- Travel and service other locations that are within your company’s geographic area… when you only usually cover one single town, county, or district.
- Asked to draft a new policy document… when customer service is your specialty.
Professional Discomfort is designed to strategically remove you from your traditional workplace comfort zone and drive you to see and understand the realities of other components of your company or organization. Occasional Professional Discomfort motivates you to not take co-workers or your place of work for granted. It also forces you into a “place-of-diversification” that facilitates new learning and realization of the production activities that surround you. Finally, Professional Discomfort works to dispel the “it’s not my job” personnel notion. I know you know what I mean.
Innovation in any form is always worth talking about. But today… during this time of required separation/distancing/masking… I believe discovering some form of Community Innovation project would be almost therapeutic!
The goal of this Inspiring Innovations LEARNING MOMENTS podcast is not to offer Community Innovation concepts. Rather the intent is to help you think through how to make the process more successful.
Enjoy the MOMENT.
This quarter’s American Society for Public Administration PATimes article is one of my favorite writings. It was generated by the passing of a dear friend, colleague and as you will read… long-term co-mentor.
The most important part of the article are the ten (10) co-mentoring specialized learnings that were the result of our years as colleagues in public service.
CQ and I hope it helps everyone.
Performance is sometimes an elusive thing. Yes, everyone has numbers/targets that they are striving to achieve. And it is appropriate and logical that comparisons are made from performance a week, month, year and/or even years ago. But what is the most beneficial way forward when it appears that all your best efforts seem to be meaningless when measured against… “how we have always done things.”
I believe and would suggest that when you reach that point when it seems like trying your best and employing multiple actions does not seem to get great performance… focus simply on helping The “ONE(S)” That Matter Most. You know what I mean.
Sometimes it is critical to just listen to help one person/customer find their way forward. Sometimes it is necessary to go back to your base strategy group and be creative for those already committed to the cause. Sometimes recruiting or enlisting the participation of a few more special ONE(S)… is far more progressive than enrolling a large number of “maybes”!
Don’t allow yourself to become lost, distressed and continually frustrated by only staring at the performance numbers. Instead, prioritize some special time… when it appears all of your professional efforts don’t add up… to help The “ONE(S)” That Matter Most.
Next week the college semester will begin at the community college where I teach. I am VERY HAPPY to report that my class will be offered in the traditional face-to-face fashion! I cannot explain or describe the two-way add-value learning that is brought about via the direct students-to-instructor interaction. I pull energy, enthusiasm, imagination, and personal growth from every session. In return I observe student growth in confidence, interpersonal relationships, subject matter knowledge and willingness to step-out-of-the-box of educational traditions!
OK… I know you are all thinking… what does all this “professor-time” information have to do with this week’s TRIPLE III TIME: Re-Start or NEW START topic?
Well how about if we begin by just looking closely at the words in the title. I believe today… more than ever before… no matter your occupation… EVERYONE would be better assuming a NEW START (not a re-start) approach to their jobs. How enthusiastic would you feel if your company… your organization announced that you were going back and re-starting from a point in the past? Yes… you would be instructed to go back before pandemic impacts and pick-up… and resume your work… before you were told to stay home for maybe 5 months!
Let me be clear… I am going to begin my class Monday with a quality NEW START message, openness, and energy. I will hope that this NEW START approach will be contagious to the students, college, staff, and fellow course instructors. I will take full advantage of the face-to-face opportunity… but also express in a NEW START way… the need to absorb every ounce of positive learning… no matter the method of delivery.
Promise me you will formulate a NEW START approach as you get to return to work!
Recently I was asked to better explain my position on the growing need for organizations and businesses to have an “Interchangeable Parts” staffing arrangement versus a group of specialists. What do I mean… specifically? Today because of: 1. the ever-growing speed of change, 2. the increasing application of technology in the workplace, 3. the need for quickened customer services/products and 4. the negativity that results from a “you have to come back next week because the person that works in that area is absent” request for help response… I believe having an “Interchangeable Parts” staff is critical and HIGH VALUE!
Additionally, my rationale for building an “Interchangeable Parts” staff structure requires everyone involved to look at this option from a personal perspective. First from an employer point-of-view, it totally eases concerns about who may miss work on a specific day… because EVERYONE can cover for them. Next when staff training is being organized, EVERYONE is operationally trained in a comprehensive manner, so continuous improvement becomes everybody’s job and EVERYONE strives to achieve common goals.
Second from an employee point-of-view if you are trained in multiple customer service/product development areas… your value as a worker goes continually up. Additionally, should you happen to be laid-off… for whatever reason… your list of skills and experiences on your resume will reflect greater diversity, adaptability, and mutual responsibility.
Bottomline: Yes, I understand that there are and will always be work areas that require high levels of specialization. However, if you follow even a minimum “Interchangeable Parts” staff strategy, EVERYONE will better understand the various components of making your organization/business successful. Also, I need to stress that developing an effective “Interchangeable Parts” mode of operation demands a two-way-street of commitment and responsibility from the employer and employee…. everyday… EVERYDAY!
Making EVERYONE more knowledgeable via a comprehensive “Interchangeable Parts” initiative, will always make for a smarter organization/company overall.
Inspiring Innovations, Inc.
LEARNING MOMENT Podcast
In today’s confusing/challenging world-of-work, setting the best priorities is critical. I believe prioritizing MORALE (the state of a person’s or group’s spirits and confidence) is leadership responsibility #1! It is important not to assume positive MORALE generation will happen naturally. No… personal/staff MORALE needs to be recognized, nurtured and progressively built everyday… EVERYDAY!
I hope my suggestions help.
This week my Dad would have turned 90! It is hard to assemble in my mind all of the things he has missed because he passed away so young. Also I wonder about all of the additional Milkhouse Moments that would have been shared over the past 20+ years… and how many I could have then passed on to all of you via this TRIPLE III TIME blog format!?
Well in honor of my Father… and instead of trying to dream up what would have been the next Milkhouse Moments learning lessons, I have decided to offer you The BEST Of! those Milkhouse Moments that have been part of past TRIPLE III TIME messages.
**RESPONSIBILITY BEGINS EARLY**
I was assigned full responsibility for caring for calves born on our farm at a very early age. Feeding, bedding, and nurturing were all “on me”. Milkhouse (Learning) Moment: I learned early that I (yeah me) needed to set my own high standard for responsibility and performance. Waiting for Dad (or a supervisor) to explain it to me would have lessened the learning… because meaningful Responsibility Begins Early.
**PARTNERSHIPS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER**
During my entire time on the farm I watched and learned the value of multi-purposed partnerships. Whether it was sharing equipment, working on a project together or just plain communicating on ag issues, partnerships were critical. Milkhouse (Learning) Moment: I learned that in all personal and professional areas that Partnerships Make Everything Better. Asking for and offering help always creates opportunity, fosters creativity, builds service capacities, and facilitates a network of great communication.
** REMEMBER YOUR ROOTS**
I grew up on a small dairy and cash crop farm in rural Michigan with 7 brothers and sisters. Working hard until the job was done… was the rule. My Dad was a GREAT accordion player and as a family we all played an instrument in our well-respected polka band. Milkhouse (Learning) Moment: I learned that you need to progressively take stock of where and how you grew up. Learning from tough experiences and expanding on the cool opportunities is the best way to Remember Your Roots! Passing on the strong work ethic, benefiting from growing up in a large family (male-female) structure, continuing the musical heritage opportunity, and not shying away from trying new things (i.e. innovating) … are all areas to appreciate, share and take forward.
I hope you enjoyed this TRIPLE III TIME Milkhouse Moments – The BEST Of! Message. I know there are/were many more. Finally, thanks and Happy Birthday Dad.
This week’s TRIPLE III TIME message is totally directed to those in a position of LEADERSHIP. And if you are a TRIPLE III TIME “regular” … you should ALL realize that EVERYONE assumes a leadership role sometime… somewhere, everyday. So, think hard about appropriately applying this message in and beyond your worlds-of-work… and how the action of “Lowering the Bar” of product/service performance impacts so many areas.
During this time of challenging decision making for both the private and public sectors… how far and when have you been “Lowering the Bar”? Consider onsite, personnel attendance, customer contacts, service delivery/time frames, quality controls, new action start-ups, strategy meetings, promotional advertising… I think you get the picture.
Next… to be leadership-fair… consider the necessary accommodations that you/your group have had to make…. just to stay operational. Work from home, avoid group strategy sessions, stay distanced, use the internet (whether you have good or not-so-good access) … and “mask-up”. These accommodations do represent rational reasons for “Lowering the Bar”.. but as leaders, shouldn’t we find alternative approaches that would generate a “Raising the Bar” momentum for you and those you are responsible for?!
This week as leaders, I recommend that we introduce a “JUST 1” Raising the Bar initiative! The “JUST 1” initiative would require everyone each week to “put on the strategy going forward table” an idea for growing, improving products/services in your sector. Does this “JUST 1” plan sound easy… YES…. but full participation and consistency will make or break it? However, would/should it curb the “Lowering the Bar” syndrome and simply, creatively create a new positive, progressive momentum that is inclusive to all… YES!!!
Give it a try!