In our industry we’re unique
I read an interesting post yesterday entitled “We’re Unique“. the full title of the piece was “We’re Unique” (Sure You Are)” and the intro that led me to read this was interesting, however when I went to the blog I was disapointed that the actual article was no much longer than the initial introduction.
In itself the article stated the obvious but did not give any hints tips or ideas on how to change the situation.
There was me expecting to read some interesting piece (ok – my error not the authors) on why some sectors think they are unique or different – but all I got was two paragraphas basically saying:
“…All organizations have a mission, goals, objectives and work to do. Solving problems is a common process whether at a hospital, a software company or a government agency.
No matter where we work, we need a mission that we can all rally around, clear goals and the tools to get the job done. We also need a supportive management that cheers us on especially in times like this. No, saying that “We’re unique” is only an excuse for not solving the problem.”
While this may be true, I am not sure that is what a client or person wants to hear. Early in my career I came across the three fundamental “rules” to understanding people when you are looking to lead or manage them….
Rule #1 – People are different
Rule #2 – people Are different
Rule #3 – people are Different
What works for one person (you) may not work for another person… your client!
Lessons from NLP
In NLP terms, most people are operate in one of two modes “same” or “different” – they either look for similarities to their experiences and situation or they look for differences. As a “herd type animal” the majority of people see “sameness” as a strength and “difference” as a weakness. The simple reason why people at conferences seem to gravitate towards people from their own sector or specialism. As consultants and change agents we need to understand this and work with it not against it. Most of us (employees) are risk averse at work rather than risk takers – so selecting a solution to a problem that is familiar and trusted by people we trust is really important. Trying to push a solution on a person just increases any existing resistance to change that already existed.
Showing you are like them
Peter Landau in his book Intelligent Dressing looks at the psychology of personal image, and how using sartorial skills can help show that “we”are like “them”. Its about us moving to their map of the world – in order to initiate change and action – not for us to drag them kicking and screaming to our map of the world to show them the solution is easy. Change as we all know is one of the biggest barriers to performance improvement and problem solving. Hitting people with sticks does not change the beliefs – it may change the superficial behaviour 9duck the stick) but if anything it re-enforces the belief that we are not to be trusted.
Are they unique?
A twist on that saying by Henry Ford – if you think you are different… you are, if you are the same… you are.
Our roles as change agents must be to recognise when the culture of an organization is like this, and learn to adapt and communicate in a different way.
My wife works in a sector that traditionally thinks that it is very different from others – to the point that to get employed in the sector you must have sector experience first (for most jobs) what is the sector… healthcare. Interestingly when you look at what they do in terms of change management they tend to copy other sectors. Earlier this week she attended a launch event at the hospital – with a big fanfair they announced that they were launching a new initiative LEAN. Now this approach has been used in sectors as diverse as manufacturing, call centres and retail, so why has a sector as “unique” as healthcare now adopted it? – of course they will argue that they are a “special case” and need to do things differently. Making changes to such systems is the main reason why change programmes often fail – they dilute the bits that actually make the difference!
Lets make sure that we understand a few fundamental points about “business and organizations”:
- They are managed by people
- The work is done by people
- People carry out processes
One hopes that all people are humans and have the same basic evolutionary path, innate skills and abilities (generally speaking). That at its most simple level all (most) humans can pick objects up in their hands, manipulate them and put them in a different place. The fundamental building blocks of the ability to work.
So the only real difference between organizations are the cultures we as humans generate to “protect” our “tribe”. so if we want to work with a “tribe” that is not our own we need to adapt.