Monthly Archives: May 2012

Recommendation Needed for Technical Change Management Tool

 One of the attendees from a recent presentation that I gave is looking for opinions on change management tools for her organization. (A technical tool for supporting their technical change management process).

If you would like to weigh in on products pros/cons, please use the "share your thoughts" button below.

(Please no promotional postings)

Posted in Moving to Work of Higher Value | 5 Comments

Change Management or Managing Change

 I am often brought in to organizations to help with a change initiative. Change can mean many things depending on where you sit in an organization. At senior levels, change often means organizational change, while at technical levels this often is interpreted as controlling or preventing change.

Change management should be looked at as a way to enable changes that have been deemed necessary when looked at strategically.

My complaint with how many managers view change is that it is a one time tactical implementation of something, be it realigning staff with new positions or installing some new piece of technology.

Change in my opinion should be viewed holistically rather than each component in isolation. Strategically the business wants to move in a certain direction, and tactically many things have to align to make that happen. Change management at a business level may include modifying behaviors, and at a technical level modifying the technology to support that.

Posted in Adapting To Your Surroundings | Click Here to Share Your Thoughts

Demolishing the Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse

I have written and spoke extensively about demolishing silos. You can see one such example in one of my blog posts from January 2010.

A silo of a different type is about to be demolished on Canada’s east coast. The scenic Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is on the chopping block through a combination of:

A) Natural selection –modern steel towers with long life bulbs are cheaper to erect and maintain than houses with lights on them, and
B) Silo mentality on behalf of Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

DFO owns the lighthouse and maintains it as one of their tools in keeping ships safe on the seas, in this case off the shores of Nova Scotia. The lighthouse needs significant maintenance and there is a stronger business case to be made for demolishing it and replacing it with a steel tower. From that standpoint it makes sense.

Lighthouses are relics from the past and time marches on. In the same way that we no longer need elevator operators, or welders on an automotive assembly line, we no longer need lighthouse keepers or even lighthouse. The work just isn’t there anymore.

The welder, machinists, and many other technical people including corporate information technology (I.T.) workers are no longer in demand for their skills and have or are about to be challenged to develop new skills.

The lighthouse keepers were obsolete many years ago, and now, so are the lighthouses. So, if their old value is now gone, how would you suggest the lighthouse keeper or the lighthouse itself move to work of higher value?

(Please post your response, and then I will share my own.)

Hint: I have provided some clues in the above text. Put your best ideas forward

Posted in Moving to Work of Higher Value | Click Here to Share Your Thoughts

You Can’t Think With Your Tool Belt On® – 05/02/12

artwork toolbelt

Five Communication Barriers That You Can Actively Be Aware of

1. One upmanship
2. Hidden assumptions
3. Making up new meanings
4. Defensiveness
5. Going off course

I have only listed five. I could probably fill an entire book of these.

Stepping back, I am sure that you can discover even more on your own. The point is that as we communicate with others we need to be aware that we each have our own filters, preconceived notions and varying degrees of skill in getting our point across or seeing the point of view of others.

There is a process for this and by being aware you can improve the outcomes of your conversations the same way you improve anything. Find out where you are, plan what the conversation will accomplish, converse, and measure that you are progressing in the intended direction. Take corrective action to get back on course.

I frequently give presentations. When I do I am practicing the same steps that I would in a one-on-one conversation. The specific techniques may differ based on audience size and the degree that I need to listen and understand versus being understood, but you get the picture.

From time to time I have experienced what can be considered “an out of body experience.” I’ve spoken to other presenters who have described this sensation where, mid speech, you find yourself observing yourself as if you had stepped aside and were watching the show. It is fascinating because during these moments, you can be in two places at once. In one place you are presenting and even answering questions, and in another place you are observing and analyzing what is going on and how to improve while even developing new ideas. When I tell my wife about this she looks at me as if I am from Mars, but I assure you that it happens, and not just to me. I suppose that it could be described as thinking on a higher plane.

A precursor to this phenomenon is the feeling of “being in the zone.” Things just click, and you don’t have to think about what you are doing because your mind is three steps ahead of your conscious thought, and able to change direction in an instant.

With practice thinking about what is going on in a conversation with another person, I have experienced the same thing although less frequently. I think the substantial difference is the degree of emotion in a one-on-one conversation, where you can be “sucked in” to a conversation that is going off course, rather than resisting the temptation and instead consciously bringing things back on track.

In conversation, some people use clever phrases that they rely on such as “so what you are saying is…” or “tell me why you feel that way.” While those phrases allow them to bring things back on course, even these techniques require that you to think before speaking, or analyze while listening. It is important to be aware of where you are in the conversation and there is a big difference between simply conversing recreationally where you can be much more casual compared to a serious conversation where results need to be achieved and some sort of conscious process should be followed.

What are you doing to move to work of higher value?

© Wayne McKinnon 2012. All rights reserved.

Posted in You Can't Think With Your Tool Belt on® | Click Here to Share Your Thoughts

Fantastic Products Can Make Up For Bad Service, But Not The Other Way Around

No Snivelling
No Sniveling

Improving service delivery is about more than serving the customer. It is about making sure that the customer CAN be served. Too many times I see organizations sabotaging their customer service workers by providing them with a service that is impossible to deliver. While you can measure customer dissatisfaction at the door that is not where it begins.

In some places bad service is a novelty, but even in those places the product exceeds expectations.

(At Bullocks I couldn't pass up either product so I had both).

Char & Caribu fact sometimes the product is so appealing that you can opt for no service at all.

Arctic can opener

Posted in Moving to Work of Higher Value | Click Here to Share Your Thoughts