When we stop telling our people what we think they ought to do and instead, start listening to what they want, their performance becomes amazing. The Book "Breaking the Mould" by Peter A Hunter tells the stories of what happened when ordinary people were allowed to become amazing.

Monday, August 07, 2006

How To Lose Your Best Talent.

How To Lose Your Best Talent.

Admiral Hyman Rickover was an extraordinary individual whose achievements were the result of his whole lifes work. He was known for his dedication and an attention to detail that was key to learning the lessons that formed the basis of the United States Nuclear Submarine fleet.

He was alleged to have taken the first dive with every new submarine in the U.S. fleet and if ever something seemed like it was going wrong during the dive, he would calmly go to the compartment where the problem appeared and sit and watch while the crew handled it.

His behaviour and his leadership are far more complex that a few short paragraphs could do justice to but I was disturbed when the above was used as an example of good leadership behaviour.

Taking these discrete examples of things that Admiral Rickover did as examples of his behaviour is fine as part of the overall picture of the Admiral but it is dangerous to assume that this behaviour on its own makes great leaders.

Can you imagine the stress that it would cause a seaman on a new submarine on its first dive if when he has his hands full trying to deal with a potentially serious problem, Admiral Rickover walks into the compartment and sits down to watch.

An action that might be designed to show commitment and leadership may in fact make the seaman so nervous that he is unable to remember the correct process for the problem he is trying to solve and when it is finally resolved the seaman may get very angry with himself for forgetting basic procedure in front of the Admiral.

What actually happened in the presence of this great man we can only speculate but for mere mortals we can see how this same behaviour can be very destructive.

Working in an automotive repair environment I heard that the shop manager had decided to check the wheel nuts himself after every puncture repair. The manager was very concerned about the quality of the work that left the garage and was genuinely concerned that the wheel nuts might not have been properly tightened.

Unfortunately the first effect was that this behaviour sends a message to the mechanics that the manager does not trust them.
Next it tells them that if he is going to check the wheel nuts then they don't have to, so they stop caring whether the wheel nuts are tight or not. As far as they are concerned if the manager wants to check the nuts, go ahead knock yourself out, it is one less thing for use to do. why should we bother.

The final and worst possible result is that the manager starts to find loose wheel nuts.
This tells him that he was right to check the wheel nuts and that without his checks the vehicles would go on the road in an unsafe condition. This makes him feel good that he decided to check the wheel nuts.

What is so horrible is that until he decided to check the wheel nuts the mechanics always checked them and no car ever went on the road with loose wheel nuts.

When the manager started to check the nuts was when the mechanics stopped caring, because the manager stopped trusting them.

Our actions have an effect on those around us.

We can have a positive effect by trusting people and respecting them, or like this manager and many others, we can destroy their ability to take pride in what they do by sitting on their shoulder and checking everything they do.

Give people the space they need to be good and to take pride in what they do and watch as they become exceptional, or try to control the same people by checking their work and drive out the possibility of anything except a mediocre performance from a reluctant workforce.

What you get out of the workforce is what you give them.

Give them nothing and that is what you will get.

Peter A Hunter

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Stop Telling People What To Do!

There seems to be a feeling that the answer to our performance measurement, incentive and ownership problems lie in what we do to the workforce.

If what we do now to the workforce is not working then we have to change what we "Do" to the workforce.

My experience indicates that the problems are not caused by what we "Do" to the workforce, they are caused by the mindset that believes that as managers we can manipulate the workforce to "Do" what we want.

This mindset is the cause of the failure, not what we do.

When we believe in the value of the workforce and know that they want to do a good job, the job of management stops being to get the workforce to do what we want by telling them what to do and it starts being to look for the things that are stopping the workforce from doing a good job, and getting rid of them.

The biggest obstacle that gets in the way of the workforces desire to do a good job is a manager telling them what to do, telling them what their targets are and telling them what equipment to use to achieve those targets.

The biggest part of the answer is so easy, stop telling people what to do.

How do you tell people that telling people what to do is wrong?

Or do you do that at all?

What do managers have to do?

The initial premise that we work from is that the workforce want to do a good job, they know how to do a good job and they just need to be given what they need in order to do that job.

The only thing that managers need to do is to listen to what the workforce want and give it to them.
What management need to get up to speed with is listening to the workforce.
For most managers this is incredibly difficult because as soon as they become managers they undergo a divine change that confers on them an absolute ability to know what is best for their workforce, better than the workforce themselves.

If we try to tell these managers to relax their control and allow the workforce to start calling the shots that will be the end of that conversation and the effect of the implementation will be zero, we will have achieved nothing because we tried to make a change by telling someone what to do.

If on the other hand we are able to change the way that the workforce feel about what they do, we allow them to start to care about what they do, we allow them to become proud of what they do, then their managers have to ask, How did that happen? because when people are proud of what they do their performance becomes astonishing.

Nobody has been told what to do.
We have simply allowed the workforce to become as good as they can be by removing the obstacles that managers put in their way and the resulting performance makes the managers ask, How did you do that?

And because they have asked we can now tell them, because they asked.

We don't have to get the managers to "Do" anything different.
They will figure it out for themselves when they see what is happening to the workforce and their bottom line.

How do you tell people that telling people what to do is wrong?
You don't.
Just make them curious about what is possible, they will get the rest on their own.

Object achieved.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

In response to a question about the use of KPI's to control the workforce.

In general I have to agree with your last statement that KPI's are being used as another control which the manager uses to inhibit his workforces ability to perform.

This does not mean that KPI's are a bad thing.

In order for the workforce to get better at what they do, in order for them to be able to feel pride in what they do, they have to be able to see their own performance.

The problems occur when they have no input into setting the KPI's or the targets.

Then the workforce feels that these are arbitrary performance standards set by faceless managers who have not got a clue about reality.
In this situation the workforce will always resist the imposition of KPI's which then have a hugely negative effect on the ability of the workforce to perform.

When the workforce are allowed to set their own KPI's and their own targets the targets are always greater than the furthest stretch target ever dreamed of by management, and they are always achieved.

The idea that targets set by the workforce are always achieved is not a new one.
What is new is actually doing it.

Then stand back while you watch a previously apathetic and uninspired workforce achieve world records on a regular basis.

That is what we did.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

An Amazing Book

“Its Your Ship”
Captain D Michael Abrashoff

Reviewed by Peter A Hunter – Author of “Breaking the Mould”

Captain Abrashoff has written a phenomenal book about the journey he made with his ship the USS Benfold, a guided missile destroyer, from a vessel that was failing on all counts, into the best ship in the Navy.

In the U.S. Navy at a time of active conflict in the Persian Gulf you could be forgiven for assuming that this was another book about a Gung Ho great guy who dragged his crew kicking and screaming up to standard through his sheer force of will and amazing personality.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Captain Abrashoff realised that the only way to achieve the best for his ship was for his crew to want to achieve the best.

He knew that telling his crew to be the best would not make a blind bit of difference, he knew he had to create the environment in which they would want to become the best and he did that by allowing them to become proud of what they did.

This book tells the stories of what he did, and how the crew responded, to change this crew from a collection of losers into the tight knit crew of the most effective ship in the Pacific fleet.

Captain Abrashoff ‘s efforts were always about the way his crews felt about what they did.
By changing the environment that they worked in he changed the way that they felt about what they did and the result was their phenomenal performance.

As he said, “Given the right environment there are few limits to what people can achieve.”

In this book Capt Abrashoff shows us what happens when we do receive the suggestions from below, not only the hard financial value that occurs when we do something in a different way as a result of listening to the needs of the workforce but also the change in the way that we make the workforce feel about what they do as a result of the fact that someone has listened to them

Normal behaviour is to ignore the junior.

One of his crew, David Lauer, had been ignored in his last job before being transferred to USS Benfold.

He had ended up on a charge of insubordination and had been transferred as a last resort.

By listening to his ideas and giving him the authority to act on them Capt Abrashoff allowed him to become the imaginative independent thinker that he always had been instead of the insubordinate ne’er-do-well he had been forced to become because nobody would listen to his ideas.

In one environment David been ignored, the result was his dysfunctional behaviour.

On USS Benfold he was listened to and as a result became Captain Abrashoff’s personal assistant bypassing on the way five more senior people

The fault was not his, it was the environment that had been created for him on his previous ship where nobody had listened.

The Stories that Captain Abrashoff tells in this book are not however about the Navy.

These are stories about people and how there are two ways to manage people.

The first is the traditional command and control that Captain Abrashoff found so destructive when he arrived on USS Benfold.

The second is the supportive recognition driven environment that Captain Abrashoff created.

The way he did this, the stories and the strategies he used translate into almost any working environment on this planet because the performance improvement he created was not about the Navy or process.

The performance improvement on USS Benfold was about people and an understanding that the way they are treated has a direct affect on their ability to perform.

The manager is responsible for performance, but most managers drive performance down by shouting and telling people what to do.

Capt Abrashoff discovered how to drive performance up by listening to what his crew needed to do a good job, then he gave them it.

As he said “The more I thanked them for their hard work, the harder they worked.”

Any manager reading this book will recognise problems and performance that they see on a daily basis in their own organisation.

Unlike most management books Captain Abrashoff does not suggest academic solutions or strategies that might work.

He tells simple stories of what actually happened, that did work and can be repeated in any organisation.

Capt Abrashoff’s philosophy is simple and the results are stunning.

If you don’t read this book, when you start to lose your market share, consider seriously if it might be because your competitors have read this book.

Peter A Hunter – Author of “Breaking the Mould”

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A New Way To Deal With Complaints, Or Is It?

What a lot of money we have been wasting on dealing with customer complaints.

Instead of dealing with them and attempting to satisfy the customer we should create a process that makes complaining so difficult then when customers complain they get such a huge negative experience and never receive any satisfaction.

They will think very hard before they complain again.

This approach is working already.

Some years ago ago I moved up to the West Coast of Scotland.
After three years of the Highlands I decided to make it my permanent home and settled down to live in the most beautiful imaginable spot on the shores of Loch Long.

In the mornings I would lie in bed and listen to the radio, gently smiling at the traffic news from England as the announcer plunged again and again through the litany of road names that spelled delay and frustration for millions of innocent motorists.

I had lived in Surrey and one of the principal reasons for getting away was to avoid the seemingly inevitable stress caused by the movement of large numbers of people that were a permanent feature of living in this overcrowded corner of England.

I felt quite smug to have got away but last year cruel circumstance forced me back to within commuting distance of London.

The first thing I decided was that any trips to London would be on the train.

I had spent too long laughing at the travel news to believe that it would ever be possible to penetrate inside the M25 in a car.

On my first trip to London I got a lift to the station. It was only fifteen minutes, then I stood on the platform waiting for the train, after about ten minutes one arrived.

Travel time was to be an hour so I sat down to read some proofs.

As the train got closer to London it filled up until the announcer declared that the train was full and would not now stop until it arrived in London.

I have since discovered that this is the normal routine but at the time was heartened to hear what I thought was a sensible decision being taken.

The train was full but not uncomfortable in the same way that a full tube train is uncomfortable.

After a further ten minutes the announcer came on again to tell us that the train was broken and that instead of delivering us to our station of choice in London, it would now drop us on the outskirts of London from whence we would have to make our own way to town on the tube.

It took me a while, and a conversation with the man next to me, to decipher what the change meant to me in terms of connections etc but having left an optimistic 45 minute buffer for my speaking engagement I worked out that I could cope with the extra delay.

Having settled my own mind I started to look at my fellow passengers and realised that when the announcement had been made there had been absolutely no reaction from the rest of the passengers.

There was no hint of outrage, no gasp of resignation and no casting heavenwards of the eyes of despair.

No reaction at all !

I began to ask why that was.

Did the train break down every day?

That could explain the lack of reaction but it hardly seemed credible.

There had to be an expectation of some sort that caused this complete lack of response, and I thought that I could see what it was.

When we are given a stimulus we respond to it.

We are drawn towards warmth as we also avoid heat and cold.
Pavlov created an expectation of hunger in his dogs with the bell such that they salivated even when no food was present.

The lack of response that I saw on the train told me that the passenger’s expectation was that they were absolutely powerless to do anything about their situation and therefore there was no point wasting any energy on being indignant or concerned.

When the train stopped everybody got off and I followed as we descended into the tube station to continue our journey into London.

It was on the tube train that it suddenly occurred to me what a lot of money we had been wasting on dealing with customer complaints.

If instead of dealing with them and attempting to satisfy the customer we instead create a process that makes complaining so difficult, then when customers complain they get a huge negative experience and never receive any satisfaction, they will think very hard before they complain again.

Before long the expectation of the customers is that there is nothing to be gained by complaining and the whole of the resource that was dedicated to dealing with complaints can be reallocated to other more needy areas of the organisation.

The provision of nursery care for the children of employees and assisted study programs to retrain the personnel who used to work in the complaints department.

There would be a small staff kept on to deal with the complaints about why there was no complaints department but, using the same strategy, that too could be phased out in time.

The one requirement for the organisation considering this strategy would be a captive market.

So long as the customer did not have a choice I felt that I was on to a winner.

The more I thought about it the more I realised that all of the organisations for whom the prerequisite of a captive market already existed had been running the same system for years.

That is why the passengers on the train failed to react.

These same people will still react when their cheap no frills flight fails to turn up but that is simply because these airlines are relatively new and the expectation that complaining is pointless has not yet been made.

These airlines are working hard at their complaints procedure, if complaints are still being received they have clearly still got some way to go.

Give them time.

By Peter A Hunter, Hunter Business Consultancies Ltd




Monday, April 17, 2006

Absenteeism or Too Late For Excuses!

Too Late For Excuses

How many times when the subject of absenteeism comes up do we hear firstly that it is the fault of the workforce, and second that we know they are swinging the lead but we are secretly amused by the outrageous excuses they provide when they do turn up for work.

A problem that is costing industry in the UK £12.5 Billion annually surely deserves more respect.

How long before we stop treating absence and sickness with amusing condescension and start to appreciate the crippling costs that we have created for our own industry?

When we accept responsibility for creating the conditions for our workforce that make them late or sick we will be halfway to discovering what we can do to reduce the impact of the problem on our ability to compete.

It Is Too Late For Excuses.

At work, part of the reason that we find the excuses of latecomers and absentees so amusing is because we believe that they have been invented to cover up the fact that the employee is late and that their lateness is their fault.

We laugh at their artifice believing that we can see through their most complicated invention as a result of our loftier perspective.

Can we see far enough through our employee's invention to realise that these amusing excuses are created because the organisation has created a working environment that is in some cases so stressful and abhorrent to the employee that they have to throw up in the car park before they come to work.

Their amusing excuse could be to cover the shame that an individual feels because they have to do this every morning before they are able to come to work.

Absence and sickness are in some cases unavoidable and in others are a function of the environment that the organisation creates in which their employees work.

The days are long past when we can treat our employees with a cavalier disregard for their welfare or individuality in the certain knowledge that if they get upset and leave it is their fault and we can always replace them.

Our share of the global market is shrinking at a startling rate.

If we continue to ignore the massive costs associated with decreasing retention and absenteeism then we will only accelerate the rate at which our market share is taken from us.

Wake up, start treating employees with the humility and dignity they deserve.

When we learn how to do this we will be able to appreciate the massive difference in performance that occurs when people feel good about what they do.

If we don’t, the massive overhead that we create for our industry by our behaviour towards our employees will continue to cripple our efforts to compete in a shrinking market.

Peter A Hunter

Sunday, March 12, 2006

What is going to happen to the National Health Service now?

What is going to happen to the National Health Service now?

Now that Sir Nigel Crisp has been assisted to leave the NHS most of us are left wondering what he will do with his enormous golden handshake.

Perhaps more importantly, there are also some who are wondering what on earth is going to happen to the National Health Service now.

In living memory every election promise ever made contained the phrase, “An increase in spending in real terms on the NHS” and the sum of all those promises is a National Health Service in which more authorities than ever before have run into debt, debt that can only be supported by cutting the services the extra spending was meant to maintain.

Sir Nigel Crisp was a man with a vision for the NHS that did not involve simply spraying it with more money in the naïve hope that the problem would go away.

Sir Nigel Crisp had a vision of a health service transformed from an unwieldy and inefficient hierarchy into a flexible dynamic organisation run by the frontline staff in response to the needs of their customers, the patients.

Sir Nigel said “we need leaders who can facilitate, motivate, and engage clinical staff and who can create an environment in which practitioners have the freedom to improve services for their patients and communities.”

His belief in the power of the individual when given the right tools to do their job was typified by a story from a Scottish Hospital in which one of the nursing staff, a Staff Nurse, expressed her frustration at having to look after people who were not sick when she knew that there was a queue of sick people waiting for the bed.
This phenomenon is commonplace in the NHS and is known as “Bed Blocking.”

She explained that if a patient was well enough to be transferred home after midday on Friday then if they required an ambulance they had to remain in the hospital until Tuesday, at a cost of £2,000 or £500 per night.

This was due to the fact that the ambulance station closed at midday on Friday and an ambulance could not therefore be requested until Monday,
Since all ambulance requests had to be made 24hrs in advance the request on Monday had to be for an ambulance to come on Tuesday.

This was not a new cause of frustration, it was a situation that had existed since she had qualified at the hospital and it was not until she was the senior nurse on the ward, the ward sister was on holiday, that she felt that she was able to ask why this situation existed.

She telephoned the ambulance station, a 10 minute drive from the hospital, and asked to speak to one of the ambulance drivers.
The first question she asked was why there were no ambulances available after midday on Friday.

The driver replied that in a cost cutting exercise many years ago the receptionist at the ambulance station, who was classed as non essential, had been asked to reduce her working hours.
As a result her working week finished at midday on Friday while the essential staff, the ambulance drivers, sat in the ready room playing cards until five o’clock when they went home because nobody ever called for an ambulance on Friday afternoons.

The Staff nurse, sensing that this was a situation the ambulance driver felt was slightly ludicrous, asked whether it would be possible for the receptionist to transfer the telephone through to the ready room before she left at midday. This seemed not to have occurred to the ambulance driver who had always accepted the situation as “The way we do things around here.”
He agreed that there did not appear to be any reason why this could not happen and the ambulance service on Friday afternoons was immediately restored, at no cost.

Having made such easy headway the Staff Nurse pressed on and asked her second question.
Why, when the ambulance station was only ten minutes from the hospital, was it necessary to order an ambulance twenty four hours in advance.

The driver explained that in the same set of negotiations that had resulted in the reduction of hours for non essential staff, performance targets had been set for the ambulance crews.

One of these targets was that all requests for ambulances that came from the hospital had to be met within 24hrs.

In order to ensure that this target was met the hospital had been told that in future they must give 24hrs notice when requesting an ambulance.

The Staff Nurses next question was,
If I asked for an ambulance now how long would it take to get here.

“Ten minutes”, the driver replied ”and even when we are really busy it would be unlikely to be more than an hour.

In one phone call the Staff Nurse had got rid of a problem that had been frustrating her ability to give the patient care that she had been trained to deliver.

It had taken years of built up frustration before she felt confident enough to make the call that ended the frustration for herself and the many other members of the care staff in that hospital.

The Staff Nurse that made the call did so not because she had any special skill or was a high priced consultant trouble shooter.

She made that call because she cared about her patients but was prevented from giving them the care they needed.

If the environment had been created that allowed her and other members of staff the freedom to improve services in the way they knew would best serve their patients then that call would have been made years earlier or perhaps this ridiculous situation would never have been allowed to occur in the first place.

Sir Nigel knew exactly what was required to transform the NHS but as the lone voice on top of an entrenched oligarchy he had neither the support nor the tools to make that transformation happen.

The sad thing is that the people who currently control the spending in that hospital have no idea that this saving has been made, or what happened to make it.

The powers that be believe they are in control.
But they are still worried about the estimated 4,000 beds per year in this one hospital that are being blocked by healthy patients who cannot go home.

They still do not understand that the solution to this and a host of other expensive problems already exist within their workforce.

Will the new head of the NHS throw more money at the problem and spend time putting on spin to disguise the real state of affairs or will we find a leader who can release the potential that already exists in every individual in the huge NHS workforce.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What is Coaching?

What is Coaching?

There are no rules, but you do have to know them (Myles Downie - Author, "Effective Coaching")

I am somewhat puzzled by the sense that coaching has a value, yet we don't know what that value is and we don't know how to measure it.

Is this is a bad thing or not?

Style has no value and cannot be measured but it makes the owner more attractive.

Are we trying to make our organisations more attractive by providing coaching or are we trying to make our organisations more effective.

If the latter we have to be able to demonstrate a return on investment, if the former we don't.

I am just a little uncomfortable with the idea that we appear to be using coaching without any sense of why we are doing it. There is a vague feeling that it adds value to an individual's performance but at the same time not enough value to make a measurable difference.

From an aesthetic point of view this may mean that the value, like style, cannot be measured in the conventional sense, but from the point of view of the accountant or engineer, if the added value cannot be measured there can be only one conclusion.

There has been no value added.

If this is the case then it becomes difficult to justify the investment of resources into something that provides no return.

Since most businesses are not run by aesthetes we have to ask why we persist with a strategy that provides no measurable return.

Coaching is a familiar word which we accept without further qualification because we believe we know what it means.

The context in which this word is familiar is the sports pavilion, not the business arena in which we are now using it.

So what is coaching?

We have a fairly sophisticated idea already of the work of the sports coach.

The Coach takes a naive athlete and allows that athlete to realise the full potential of his or her body. The athlete is already fit and strong, the Coach provides the focus, technique and energy to an already prepared body which allows the Athlete to improve.

This idea translates very effectively to the business arena in which the business Leader / Manager, with Coaching, is guided and supported to a new focus, a new understanding of personal effectiveness and real power.

The above repeats the familiar analogy of the Athlete who with Coaching is able to reach his full potential.

The model however falls short of the needs of the professional tradesman who finds himself in a position of authority with no Management or Leadership tools.
All of his working life he has been using his skill with familiar tools, (that he was introduced to during his apprenticeship), to produce results for which he is paid.
His promotion to a Managerial position now puts him in a place where he is not allowed to use his old familiar tools.
He is placed in this position and expected to produce results in terms of performance, without the training or experience to indicate how he might go about it.

The equivalent situation is the man on the street who finds himself being Coached by an athlete.
He doesn't even speak the same language.
"What has diet got to do with it, what do you mean go for a run? what's wrong with the bus, cross training? do you mean learn how to get angry, don't call me overweight!"

There is no reason why the second man cannot become as motivated and effective as the first but it is apparent that some extra work is required to get to the same level.

In terms of the Athletic relationship the sports Coach would not normally entertain the man who came off the street.
Before he could get into a pure Coaching scenario there would have to be an enormous investment in time and effort to get John Doe to a level where his performance could be attributed to Coaching rather than an increased fitness level.

Business Coaches on the other hand don't often find themselves with the luxury of being able to pick and choose the people or the level to which they are pre-trained before they meet them.

The Business Coach accepts whomsoever is encountered and is prepared to take on the man in the street with the same enthusiasm and the same end in mind as the Business Athlete.

For the Business Athlete the coach is starting with a person already trained and fit, he has the tools he requires and the value added comes from the softer, guidance, facilative and support skills of the Coach.

The man in the street, at the opposite end of the spectrum cannot respond to the softer skills because he has not even begun to learn the language that would allow him to appreciate the concepts.

At the base level there is a man who first wants to know what empowerment means before he can consider the relevance of the concept and begin to think about a strategy to implement it in the workplace.

The word Coaching and the initial narrow definition of the word does not cover the teaching, training and mentoring which has to occur first to prepare John Doe for the one to one Coaching relationship.

Without the groundwork, the preparation and education, we cannot get to that one to one relationship.

The Business Coach expands his offer to the client by including these hard skills.

By transferring those (Hard) skills to the clients, through teaching or training, the coach adds immediate value, at the same time preparing the coachee for the subsequent one to one coaching relationship (The Softer Skills) that will aid the clients progress to the next level of performance.

The two groups of skills;

The Harder Skills :
Predominantly for the man without a formal business education (Non Athlete)

• Teaching,
• Training,
• Mentoring.

The Soft Skills :
Predominantly for the business athlete

• Guiding.
• Facilitation.
• Support.

In a practical situation there will always be an overlap between the two groups but by ensuring that the hard skills are in place first the Business Coach can fine tune their use and measure the return created by the coaching intervention.

Where these hard skills are not in place, or have been neglected, it will be very difficult for the coach or the client to discern a return on their investment.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

So What Is Ownership?

Peter A Hunter, author of Breaking the Mould looks at the concept of ownership and argues his case for why change the British Airways way doesn’t always fly.

In order to create a performance improvement we have to do something different. If we don't how can we possibly expect to make a change?

So our problem is finding out what it is that needs changing.

Many management models have been tried all with varying levels of success, from Kaizen to Six Sigma, TQM and a host of others.

These models are not wrong, but they all suffer from the same failing.

Somewhere in each instruction book there is a phrase that equates to the following: “The key to the successful implementation of this model is ownership.”

Then we turn the page and begin the new chapter without ever coming across the instruction that tells us how to create that ‘ownership’.

Ownership is a concept that has been used and abused for years but very few people are able to give it any meaningful definition.

Without understanding what it is, how is it possible to create the conditions to allow it to happen?
I prefer to think of ownership as the way that we feel about something.

If it is mine, I own it, I will take care of it.

If it is not mine I won’t take care of it, why should I? I don’t own it!

The problem we have just created is that we have just defined ownership as the ability to care about something.
That concept may be very well in a soft, pink, cuddly way but it hardly has a place in a business conversation.
We want to talk about percentage points, hard savings, value add and other assorted sexy business type words.

Businessmen don’t want to talk about caring.

But wait a minute! How many people ever wash a hire car?
Not many.
Why should they?
If the hire car doesn’t belong to me, why should I care?

And yet most of us take care of our own cars.
They don’t come with washing instructions and nobody tells us to wash them, but we do and lovingly maintain and care for them because they are ours.

After two years the hire car that we did not wash has a residual value of practically zero because nobody will buy a car that has been driven for two years by people who did not care for it.

The hire car company has no option, the hire car is scrapped.

Meanwhile and in the same time period your car has attained its own residual value.
It is worth ten or twelve thousand pounds.

You can realise that value by selling the car or you can continue to use it reliably for another ten years.

Suddenly the care that we gave the car has paid off.
We can now say that the value of that care is the cars residual value of ten or twelve thousand pounds.

A residual value that the car we did not care for does not have.

Now we have a solid measurable effect on the bottom line that is directly attributed to our ability to care.

The suggestion at the beginning of this article is that we have to first understand what we have to change before we can figure out how to change it.

I suggest that what we have to change is the way that people feel about their work.
We have to allow them to start to care about what they do.

The first reaction to the suggestion that we can change the way people feel about their work is that it is nonsense.

How on earth can we change the way people feel and where is the profit in it?

We have already seen where the profit is, and changing the way that people feel about their work is something that happens every day and is as often as not reported on the news, except that we don’t recognise it for what it is.

Several years ago I watched an interview with Rod Eddington, the then Chairman of British Airways(BA).

He was understandably complaining about the market share that he had lost to Ryanair, Easyjet and the other budget airlines.

But he was also being quite bullish about it. He explained that in the previous three years he had reduced British Airways operating costs by five per cent.

What he didn’t admit to was in those same three years he had also made sixteen thousand of his staff redundant.

So how did the remaining British Airways staff feel when they found out that 16,000 of their colleagues had been made redundant?

Did they feel good about it? Did it make them feel secure? Did it increase their trust in BA? I don’t think so.

But think back a few years to the time before the redundancies.

What sort of person used to work for a company like BA?

Well they were the types that had dreamt about being a pilot since a young age or the stewardess whose flippant answer to the question: “Where are you going for the weekend?” was truthfully and smugly, “Barbados”.

British Airways staff were people who competed for their jobs and having won, were living their dreams and getting paid for it.
They were proud, motivated, and they cared about what they did.

Three years later and the redundancies had changed the way they felt about their ‘dream’ jobs.

This is the sort of change that occurs with monotonous regularity in industry.

A caring and productive workforce is changed by what is done to them by their managers into one that turns up for the pay check and has no other interest in being there.

British Airways changed the way their staff felt about their jobs.

But they changed in the wrong direction.

They are not the only organisation to have done so.

To create a sustained performance improvement we need to change the way people feel, but we have to do it in the right direction.

We have to allow staff to start to care about what they do.

If this sounds difficult, consider, most people want to do a good job, they want to care about what they do.

The only thing that stops them from caring is what is done to them in the work place.

To make the change all we have to do is to find out what is stopping the workforce from caring, then stop doing it to them.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Loyalty by Peter Hunter


There was a day when we gave people our business through a sense of loyalty.

This loyalty was earned as repayment for a repeated positive experience.

We are prepared to put up with the occasional lapse in the level of service we receive if we know that the overall intent is to provide us with what we want and that the normal level of service does provide us with exactly that.

That was in the good old days when we could make the assumption that the service provider was in business to provide a service.

Those were the good old days indeed.When the bank manager could look at your plans for expansion and give you what you needed because he knew you and was able to be loyal to his customers.

When you kept the same credit card in your wallet for years because you thought that you had built up a relationship with the company.

It comes as a rude shock today when you need to stretch your resources and in the face of a twenty year relationship discover that your loyalty counts for nothing.

It comes as an even ruder shock to find that the bank manager is desperate to help but is prevented by the rules of the bank that he now finds himself shackled to.

The bank manager became a bank manager by working his way through a business that essentially made money by helping other people to make money.

By gaining experience and understanding he progresses to the point where his personal influence can be seen to be helping his customers to make more money.

Then the bank changed the rules.Now his job is to apply the rules without any latitude at all.All his accumulated knowledge and experience counts for nothing as the ability to make a decision is taken away from him.

From being a respected autonomous figure he finds himself relegated to applying a set of rules that encouraged him to give inappropriate loans in order to meet the targets set by the bank and not allowed to give help in situations where he knows that his ability to do so would give someone who deserved it the space they need to breathe.

Is it any wonder that the bank manager becomes disillusioned and goes forth to seek out pastures new where he is allowed to use his experience to add value and be more than a none thinking clerk.

The bank mangers as a consequence leave their positions before they have completed the full term with the result that their successor is put into post before gaining the full experience that they need.

But now that doesn't really matter because under the new rules we no longer need the same level of experience to be a bank manager.

The new manager just has to follow the rules.This is fine for a while but blindly following a set of rules soon palls and once again the manager moves on.

Each subsequent manager is therefore less able to be the manager that we all grew up to respect and work with, until the person who becomes the new long term manager is the sort of person who has grown up not being required to think and is therefore comfortable in a non thinking role and is probably even envied by his peers who are still working for MacDonalds.

We are not taking a pop at bank managers here but the environment that has created this need to withdraw the ability to think from the workforce.

The same pattern is repeated in call centres.Call centres used to be populated with individuals with a certain amount of expertise in their field to whom it appealed to be able to help people who were having difficulty.

A natural human desire to help.And then the rules were changed.Instead of the help line being there to help and at the same time give the operator job satisfaction when that help was given, the rules now say that the object of the help line is to process callers in a given time.

The object of the help line is no longer to deal with queries or complaints it is now simply to process the calls.

The experienced operators will now leave the call centre because they know that it is impossible to satisfy the callers in the time allotted and they in turn are replaced by other operators who have less experience and therefore less ability to satisfy the callers or themselves.

When they too inevitably leave they are replaced finally by operators who are unable to care about the outcome of the call.

The consequence for the customer is that it becomes increasingly pointless calling the help line because the operator is increasingly unable help.

In fact it is a bonus for the operator when the customer, receiving wrong or misleading information, slams the phone down in frustration because it improves their average.

This situation will continue to get worse until we start to understand the lessons that we seem to have forgotten.

That the customer is important and that the relationships we build with people have a value that is worth more than the fleeting performance targets with which we have become obsessed.

PeterBreaking the Mould,www.BreakingtheMould.co.uk

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Unleashing The Power Of Pride - By Tina Kemp.

PETER Hunter's 'eureka' mo­ment could not have been any further from his bath.
It came as he balanced on a dog sled, racing through the icy expanse of the Canadian Rockies.

Just minutes before, the team of reluctant and disinterested dogs had refused to budge. Now they were flying — and Peter knew why.

It was a life-changing discovery for this management guru whose revelation is now help­ing to transform work places throughout the world.

Life changing because, as Peter says, it is simple — so simple that many still believe it just cannot happen.

But Peter knows it can and he is on a crusade to prove that if people care, there's no stopping them.

Peter, of Portincaple, recently launched his new book Breaking the Mould, which gives some amazing in­sights into what can be achieved when people are, according to him, "allowed to be all they can be".

For at least one firm in Venezuela, that has meant an incredible 800 per cent performance improvement in just three weeks and just as importantly, it allowed hundreds of workers not only to hold onto their jobs, but to take a new pride in their work too.

Time and time again, in his work with industry, former Royal Navy man, Peter en­countered management styles which trapped the workforce into destructive negative behaviors.

Standing on a sled runner in the snow, he suddenly saw the solution.

"I noticed the guide was being very vocal with the dogs," recalls Peter. "She was talking to them all the time, prais­ing them, continually giving feedback.
The team behind us was the exact opposite, it wasn't working.
I asked if I could have a go with them.

"I got on the sled and began to do exactly what our guide was doing, continually praising each dog individually and collectively as a team.
I saw their ears prick up and they just took off.
The feedback I was giving the dogs was like a physical fuel.
Those eight dogs were the engine and the words I was using was what made the engine work..”

The lesson was as stark as that.

“Standing there on the runners, I realised that the same lesson applied to the human team.
It was a revelation."

What turned a bunch of confused, hostile and unenthusiastic dogs into a dynamic racing team was not some special skill on the part of Peter.
His recognition of the animals' own abilities — and the way in which he un­leashed them—created an environment in which they were allowed to perform to the best of their ability.

The result astonished everyone — dogs included.
His dog sled experience taught him two lessons.

"I realised you have to find out what you're doing wrong and stop doing it," he says. "I also discovered that cracking the whip does not work.”
“The traditional manager who cracks the whip by so doing is responsible for creating the environment in which people are not al­lowed to perform. I created the environment that works by not telling people what to do."

The book tells stories about how people were
allowed to start caring again. It's a deliberate
process that allows people to be proud of what
they do. When people start to become proud, they
start to perform out of their socks because no
one is sitting on their shoulder annoying them'

Peter has seen the results of a work­force which is held back through tradi­tional management styles which put short term profit and power before people.

"When things happen that stop people do­ing a good job it is very frustrat­ing for the individual,"

He explains.
“Two things can happen.
First, people get angry, this leads to stress.
Stress on a long-term basis damages our body.
Physical prob­lems lead lo time off work, then it becomes a Catch 22 situation, as soon as we come back to work we get more stressed because the situation that caused the stress still exists.

The other reaction is that people switch off the stress by becoming apathetic.
If they don’t care about what they do then they cannot become stressed.
We have to stop caring or we will not be able to continue.
So we are forced to stop caring about what we do in order to avoid the stress that it causes.

This is where Breaking the Mould comes in.

"The book tells stories about how people were allowed to start caring again. It's a deliberate process that allows people to become proud of what they do.
"When people start to become proud, they start to perform out of their socks because no one is sitting on their shoulder annoying them all the time.

"These stories are aimed at the vic­tims of management.
They are about ordinary people being allowed to care about what they do, and what that happens to them and their performance when they do.
When people care about what they do you cannot compete with them."

Peter has seen the results of that caring.

In Venezuela he helped bring about an amazing turnaround on an oil rig which was on the verge of closure.

He explains:

"The company was told that if the rig performance did not improve, it would be shipped back to Germany.
I was asked to go out there and turned up to be introduced to a man who had been managing oil rigs for 10 or 15 years.
He was hostile, because he thought I was there to tell him what to do.
"I told him that all I was going to do was ask his crew for ideas about how lo improve the rigs performance and that all he had to do was tell me what ideas were good or bad and why.
I would give that feedback to the person who came up with the idea.

"Three weeks later, the rig had made an 800 per cent performance improvement in the time it took to move the rig between wells.

It used to take them eight-and-a-half hours to move the rig 15 metres, and now they were moving it the same distance in 55 minutes.

"People ask how that happened.

Peter said, “I simply changed the dynamic.

Instead of telling people what to do we allowed them to care about what happened."

Peter, who is in the process of writing a second book, has now established a company which has a team of more than 30 specialists trained to implement Breaking the Mould techniques to com­panies and organisations, as well as public speaking, seminars and presentations.

The book, he emphasises, is not an instruction manual.
"I tell the stories and let people take their own lessons,"

He says. "1 don't go to people and offer to Break their Mould — most managers just won't believe it works.

People need to be curious, they need to realise for themselves that it does work and be prepared to understand that there is another way to manage people.
That way can be learned and it produces repeatable results.

"My main motivation is to release the power of ordinary people.
People who know how good they are but who are not allowed to do a good job because of the way they are treated.
When they are allowed to become powerful the results are aston­ishing to everyone."

The transformation includes getting rid of the blame culture of buck passing and of criticism when mistakes are made.

"Even mis­takes are a positive," Peter says.
"The person making the mistake is alerting the company to a situation that needs to be dealt with, so instead of looking for blame we ask 'how can we prevent that that happening again'.

When the workforce starts to care about what they do there are no limits."

Caring, pride, ownership, empower­ment, being all you can be — Peter is the first to admit it all sounds a bit "pink and fluffy". The reality is anything but.

"If you want to know about the power of pride," says Peter, "just try to remove a football supporter's scarf.

If you un­leash the power of pride in your organisation then you had better stand back because your team will be running for the horizon and your competition will never catch them."

• “Breaking the Mould” is priced £11.99 and is available from the website, http://www.breakingthemould.co.uk/ or direct from the publisher at http://www.librario.com/

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Darkened Room

Patterns For Organisational Development Or The Darkened Room.

I recently came across W Edwards Deming and have since been doing some home work to discover why there is so much resistance to what is essentially some very basic philosophy.

Deming's early work on statistics and quality was built around an ability to analyse complex systems and the use of that analysis to predict complex outcomes.

Deming was a statistician and his work very soon leaves the basic philosophy and becomes bogged in the complex use of numbers to define complex systems.

The very complexity of his approach deters many students but there is a more fundamental problem with complex systems that was identified by the later work on chaos.

There seems to be two approaches to the world.

There is the modern Digital approach where every action and interaction is controlled at the microscopic level by single bites of information.
Below this level it is not possible to go because a single bite of information is not divisible.

But we know from chaos theory that below the level of that single bite of information there is a whole world of complexity that has huge and unpredictable outcomes.

The flaws occur when we begin to realise the limitations of the start point digital data.

When the weather centre at Bracknell decided to tighten up its long range forecasting ability with the purchase of their first computers the reaction of the computers was completely unexpected.

The computers told the forecasters that they should stop issuing long range forecasts because the probability of a correct forecast was no better than chance.

Natural events are far more complex than a digital approach can ever define.

We can take a digital picture that looks great but when we blow it up we start to discover its limitations.
By trying to try to define complex systems in this way we are building in errors that become evident in the variation we encounter and are magnified massively whenever one complex system encounters another.

The second approach is the Analogue approach.

In nature the interaction of complex systems occurs all of the time without any trouble at all because when a wave hits a beach what happens, just happens.

If we try to define what happens to the wave or the beach in a digital way we will probably end up concluding that nature is at fault.

The digital approach to managing process's and operations will always have the same built in errors when it contains these complex natural components.

The component that causes most trouble is the human operator whose actions and interactions may be the most complex on the planet.

When treated in this digital way the complexities cannot be resolved.
The human being has to be treated in natural way that instead of trying to define the complexity of the condition simply creates the environment that allows the conditions to interact and come to a natural conclusion.

In this way we avoid the impossibility of trying to define a complex system and instead concentrate on the result when the two systems combine.

Try to define sex.

What is it, what starts the thought processes that lead to it, what are the physical changes that must precede it, how do we feel during and do we have to smoke afterwards, what about the partner, what appealing characteristics, body type, skin tone hair colour etc.

There are an enormous number of questions before we can define the act in a digital/analytical way and an even bigger number of answers to those questions.
The complexity of the analysis puts us off the act.

If however we appreciate the possibility of the act then all we have to do is to create the right environment for the act to take place and ignore the complexities because it is what people want to do.

The right environment could be as simple as a darkened room.

In the same way, if we assume that people want to be able to do a good job we simply have to create the environment that allows them to do a good job.

The right environment could be created simply by listening to the workforce and finding out what they need to be as good as they can be.

As Deming said, "Remove the barriers that stop people from being as good as they can be and count the smiles on Monday morning."

Or, "Turn the lights down and walk away."

Peter A Hunter

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The PRIDE System

Workers face dynamic and ever increasing challenges.
A global economy of discriminating consumers has placed demands on meeting planners never before seen.
Managers face tasks of finding, keeping, and motivating workers.
Environmental pressures, rising health care costs, and the sophisticated needs of the workforce have placed management in a complicated and tenuous situation.
The answer lies with creating a work environment that motivates people toward exceptional performance.
Supervisors and managers who maximize the potential, creative abilities, and talents of the entire workforce have a greater competitive advantage than those who don't.
Motivated workers provide the health insurance businesses desperately needed in these chaotic times.

How To Motivate People -The Pride System Supervisors have the responsibility for creating a motivating working environment.

Dr. Edwards Deming said, "The aim of leadership should be to improve the performance of man and machine, to improve quality, to increase output, and simultaneously to bring pride of workmanship to people."

A motivating environment is one that gives workers a sense of pride in what they do.
To show supervisors and managers how to build a more productive work environment, I've created a five-step process called the PRIDE system.
Leaders can improve motivation within their organizations by following this process:

Step 1 • Provide a positive working environment
Step 2 • Recognize everyone's efforts
Step 3 • Involve everyone
Step 4 • Develop skills and potential
Step 5 • Evaluate and measure continuously

Step 1 - Provide a Positive Working EnvironmentMotivation begins by first providing a positive work environment.

Fran Tarkenton says, to find what motivates people, "you have to find what turns people on." This is the most important factor in the process. A motivating working environment requires going over and beyond the call of duty and providing for the needs of the worker.

Walt Disney World Company provides an excellent work environment for their employees or "cast members."
Employee assistance centers are spread strategically across the theme park.
Some of the services included employee discount programs, childcare information, money orders, postage stamps, check cashing, and bus passes.
The Walt Disney Company realizes that taking care of their employee's needs keep them motivated, on the job and loyal to the company.

Step 2 - Recognize Everyone’s EffortsMark Twain once said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment."
Personal recognition is a powerful tool in building morale and motivation.
A pat on the back, a personal note from a peer or a supervisor does wonders.
Small, informal celebrations are many times more effective than a once a quarter or once a year formal event.
Recognition by one's peers is more motivating than by supervisors.
United Services Automobile Association (USAA) provides "Thank You" note stationary for their workers.
Employees are encouraged to say "Thank You" to each other for the help they receive at work. The most surprising thing happened on the first day USAA printed the notes . . . they ran out! The company couldn't keep up with the demand.

Step 3 - Involve EveryoneHaving workers involved at all levels of the business is a key element improving morale and motivation.
It also has a major impact on improving profit and productivity.
The best way to involve workers is the use of teams and teamwork.

Businesses have found that teams improve productivity, increase morale and empower workers.
Teams have decreased the need for excessive layers of middle managers and supervisors.

Johnsonville Foods located in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, has been a flagship of productivity improvement.
Almost 90% of the workforce belongs to some type of team.
The team, not management, decides who is hired, who is fired, and who gets a pay raise.
Ralph Stayer, Johnsonville's Chief Executive Officer, reports that his company's productivity has risen by at least 50% since 1986.
Teamwork has made a tremendous impact on the morale of the company.

Step 4 - Develop Worker’s Skills and PotentialTraining and education motivates people and makes them more productive and innovative.
At Federal Express, all customer contact people are given six weeks of training before they ever answer the first phone call.
Learning never stops and testing continues throughout their employment tenure.
Every six months customer service people are tested using an on-line computer system. Pass/fail results are sent to each employee within 24 hours.
They receive a personalized "prescription" on areas that need reviewing with a list of resources and lessons that will help.
Federal Express' intensive training and development program has resulted in higher motivation and lower turnover.

There are many reasons training and development makes sense.
Well-trained employees are more capable and willing to assume more control over their jobs. They need less supervision, which frees management for other tasks.
Employees are more capable to answer the questions of customers which builds better customer loyalty.
Employees who understand the business, complain less, are more satisfied, and are more motivated.
All this leads to better management-employee relationships.

Step 5 - Evaluate and Measure Continuously
Continuous evaluation and never ending improvement is the final step of the PRIDE system. Evaluation is a nonstop activity that includes a specific cycle of steps.
The primary purpose of evaluation is to measure progress and determine what needs improving.
Continuous evaluation includes, but is not limited to, the measurement of attitudes, morale, and motivation of the workforce.
It includes the identification of problem areas needing improvement and the design and implementation of an improvement plan.

Businesses have searched far and wide for the competitive advantage, the best equipment, robotics, or the latest business technique.
These devices provide only temporary solutions.
The true competitive advantage is trained and motivated people proudly working together, contributing vitality and energy toward the goals of the enterprise.

Gregory P. Smith

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Clawing Back Training Costs

What happens when you try to claw back training costs?

The mindset that needs to claw back training costs is probably the same mindset that causes the conditions that makes people want to leave the organisation.

An estimated 85% of people leave their employment because of what has been done to them by management.

When you invest in training for the workforce you are sending a message that tells them they are valuable and that you believe they can be more valuable through the training that they are being given and the investment the organisation is prepared to make in the individual.

This makes the trainee feel good and special.

The trainee enters the training proud that the company should think this and is determined to show them that their faith was not misplaced by using the training to give the organisation a return for their investment.

More commonly, the trainee is selected for a course that they have not asked for, with these rules attached.
There follows a whole host of conditions attached to the training, such as have been already discussed, that send an entirely different message to the trainee.

The management need the training to be carried out but they resent having to give it to the individual selected.
The host of conditions send a message to the trainee that says the organisation does not trust him and that they will take the first opportunity they can to rip his heart out if he ever thinks of leaving the organisation.

This is exactly the sort of behaviour that will make the trainee feel undervalued, distrusted and used.
This is precisely the behaviour that will cause the trainee to leave.

By setting all the conditions that are intended to stop the trainee from leaving the company, the management are actually creating the conditions that make it almost inevitable that their trainees will leave.

The answer is easy to do and it involves a transformation in the way that management treat the workforce.

As we mentioned earlier, creating the rules that attempt to clawback training costs are only one of the things that management do that cause the workforce to want to leave.

Wanting to clawback training costs is only one symptom of the lack of understanding of what the workforce really need to perform.

Respect, trust and support.

We are entering a new world in which these are the new managers most powerful tools.

Peter A Hunter
Author - Breaking the Mould