Consultant in CRM, CMS, collaboration, and project management. Sales, installation, integration, and support of software and solutions based on mainly Bitrix24 and Microsoft products like Office 365, Windows Server, and SQL Server. Guides and assists in avoiding crises in change processes.
“…we think over many years it had become more a ritual than moving the company upwards and forwards”.
This is what happens to many ideologies in companies – either they are never believed and quickly dies out, or they are believed to a level where they have no foothold in reality – and, hence, are being maintained far beyond the point where it should have been clear that they do no good.
What is particularly interesting in many company change programs is that the companies often stay in them for decades. What really should have been a transition to another way of working, a development of the company, becomes an eternal hunt for the original ideal – ignoring all of the natural development of the company that happens in between. And therefore Six Sigma or the yearly performance measurement could not survive in GE in the long run.
Often it is said that any kind of improvement program will not work – it will be attempted, then left behind and a new one will be attempted. The main reason for this is that every improvement program should be specific for each company: you cannot copy others’ success, because the preconditions and the situation in general for your company will be different. And, as mentioned above, life goes on during and after the transition, which must be taken into account as well and included in the general management scheme. The transition itself really should go, quickly, from a special change project into becoming standard management practice in the company, which additionally should keep adding, removing and adjusting such practices, as life moved on.
The article below, written by Max Nisen and published on Quartz, is full of interesting thoughts!
The annual performance review has been a ubiquitous and generally loathed fixture of the corporate world for decades. But haters can rejoice: It’s finally starting to topple. The best part? Even the company that popularized the toughest form of formal annual review is moving away from them.
For decades, General Electric practiced (and proselytized) a rigid system, championed by then-CEO Jack Welch, of ranking employees. Formally known as the “vitality curve” but frequently called “rank and yank,” the system hinged on the annual performance review, and boiled the employees’ performance down to a number on which they were judged and ranked against peers. A bottom percentage (10% in GE’s case) of underperformers were then fired.
The company got rid of formal, forced ranking around 10 years ago. But now, GE’s in the middle of a far bigger shift. It’s abandoning formal annual reviews and its legacy performance management system for its 300,000-strong workforce over the next couple of years, instead…
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Apart from all the things we say in daily life – things without any real meaning but which serve a social purpose, such as please, thanks, you’re welcome – there are lots of more things to say if your team should be able to accomplish anything.
For that purpose many team building programs try to give the team members a common language – for instance in the shape of corporate values and their deduction, or a vocabulary from one or more project management methodologies. Even though such a common language at times has a real meaning it often becomes a short lived gig. After a while, it has been forgotten and you and your colleagues are back to where they where before, talking like you always did.
Why does this happen? Because of the lack of contents. You may say a handful of positive words every day for a few days and think of it as a great thing – but gradually you get tired of it. It becomes a reduced form of New-speak (from the novel “1984”), the language that could only express positive thoughts (so that people could not express any unhappiness with the current state, and hence, not start a revolution). Being restrained from expressing yourself in your own way makes your words less rich and therefore less valuable. You feel degraded.
Language without contents
The prevalent idea of positive thinking (and speaking) is in the same league: if you cannot tell about problems, you cannot tell what really matters. In the end the idea will kill itself, just like the corporate values and the methodology vocabulary, at least on an everyday basis. The positive speaking will be something to be used on special occasions where nothing important needs to be said, like at receptions and department meetings.
You can easily see what is wrong with it by watching this video. It does express a kind of world lingo and at first it is quite entertaining and makes people smile. But for how long? Maybe you would like to test yourself? For how long do you consider the positive and meaningless language of the video to be better than a discussion about some real world problems that need to be addressed?
Purpose of the language
When a dialogue friendly environment should be established, an environment that can support real progression and problem solving, support development and production, it is much better with a rather different approach: instead of talking in a positive “least common denominator” language, try talk as yourself and expect the same from people around you – and then start listening to what is really being said. Not the words being used or the topics being touched, but one level behind all that.
Try to understand what is the reason for what is being said. If someone said a taboo word – why did they do it? Maybe there really is a problem with the toilet? Or maybe nobody seemed to listen to them when they tried the positive babble and therefore they now tried something else?
If you start paying attention to the meanings expressed rather than the words used, and if people around you find that they can safely do the same – if you all stop focusing on individual words and look for meanings – then you have indeed established a common language that will prove useful for collaboration.
Start with listening! “You have only one mouth but two ears”, as successful telemarketing people quickly learn. So you should listen twice as much as you speak. And try to get the meaning rather than the words. Then it will work. It is that simple!
The comic strip was found at the Chiradox blog.
It was a late evening, I was zapping around on the TV and found by accident a program about women’s equal rights (or the lack of them) in the USA.
Lack of social equality
It is, to me, quite ironical that the world’s self-proclaimed biggest democracy still, after having been ahead with so many other social developments, cannot find out how to give women equal rights. Along with tons of other social problems that mainly arise from the deeply rooted belief in survival of the strongest, or, in American language, the freedom to make your own happiness.
I am not against freedom or liberalism. It certainly is important also to me that it is possible for everybody to create something, rather than just being locked into the existing social and economical patterns. It just has to be possible for real, not as a fantasy. And it looks like if many women in the USA can only fantasize about creating something big, simply because they are locked up in such patterns that keep them from doing big things.
According to a woman speaking in the TV program, men are either making a career or are considered losers. There is no middle way. Men cannot have just the same job for a longer period, being happy about it – and they certainly cannot put the career on hold while going at home, taking care of the house and the children. But this is exactly what is expected from women. Hence, the lack of equality in society.
But a remarkable consequence has developed from this inequality: women dare to say to their boss that he can have it, now they are leaving and do not care about what that means for their future career options. And they do that, often, according to the TV program. They quit their job if it becomes too much of a burden, while men accept much more of what makes work life miserable. Because men must go through a career and be careful not to ruin any options, not to burn any bridges.
Being a success
We are not locked up in the same way in Denmark and Sweden, where I work and live. But as the USA has had (and still have) a huge influence on our way of living, we are to a high degree driven by the same values – money, things, promotions, pension savings, etc. for the men, less of it all for most women who then instead have a focus partly on home and a secured economy and status in life, partly on enjoying that life as much as possible – now! Children, if any, are being taken care of by the kindergarten.
But in both worlds, the USA and Denmark/Sweden, we all want a lot. And it requires at least some of us to be successful in an economical way. We need money. So we are selling a lot of life for the possibility to buy even more smart phones, TVs and other things. And we try really hard to look successful to others, because if we do not look that way, we aren’t! It is not common to try to look a bit deeper – when evaluating others, we simply look at the size of their car, their house, and their level of job. Then we know if they are successful.
Everything comes at a price
When I was a small child there was a children’s movie on TV, I think it was a Swedish one: The Boy with the Gold-Trousers. About a boy who discovered that he could just put his hand deep down in the pockets of his trousers, and there would be money. And he could do this again and again, until having filled his room with money. What he didn’t know at first, however, but which he did find out later, was that the money actually came from somewhere – the bank! So each time he pulled money out of his pocket, a corresponding amount vanished from the bank. And that, in the end, lead to a lot of trouble.
The morale of such a story is, of course, that wealth is not for free. That a high standard of living would need to be payed somehow, by some. That the hunt for gold-trousers and the wish to use them for more than the necessary leads to serious problems.
Which way does the inequality turn?
So maybe the apparently bad situation for women in the USA has brought something really good with it: the ability for at least half of the population to say no to the career race, to the abuse of the gold-trousers. The ability for women to say no and focus on real values, while men are still running around like headless chicken, unable to sit still long enough to feel and find out if it was true what the fantasy said to them, when they still believed in it: that money can buy happiness.
Instead the men in the USA – and we in Denmark/Sweden – must look like successes all the time, look like if we are without any trouble, without fear, without the need for a helping hand, and, as a consequence, without showing any understanding of the fact that others could face trouble, feel fear, and need a helping hand.
And in the mean time, women figured it all out and reached some values that are closer to their true wishes and needs, closer to the idea of actually getting something out of the economical success.
(And pardon for all the stereotyping).
May I introduce – a new blog!