Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

dunce2I like this headline because it’s almost as obnoxious as “Everything You Know About Change Management is Wrong.” I love those kinds of headlines. Great way to offend your audience and under-deliver. Needless to say there are no indisputable things about anything and I certainly hope you are not wrong about everything.

My goal here was to force myself to choose five tenants I could put my convictions behind (and of course, get your attention) . Creativity via limitations. Here’s what I came up with.

1. What to Change

In my last assignment I often said our hardest job was not knowing how to do it but what to do it to. What do we attempt to change? That is THE question.

I blatantly steal from the Theory of Constraints here. But instead of focusing on what is the most significant process constraint to change, we focus on what is the most significant cultural/organizational constraint we need to change.

What cultural behavior or norms stop us from making improvements? Organizational silos? Incentive systems? Education? Distrust? Chaos?

They could all be constraints. Which one is the lynchpin? Evaluate and make a decision. It’s not an exact science.  You might be wrong. That’s OK. The act of trying to solve the problem next to the lynchpin will probably lead you to the lynchpin. And that’s progress. It’s part of the process.

2. Strategy and Tactics

As Eli Goldratt put it, strategy is the “What For” and tactics is the “How To,” and they need to work together.

The What For defines what we are trying to achieve. The emotions involved with the What For make it complex because people’s desires are fluid and so their attitudes towards the What For will be dynamic.

The How To will be less complex but often more complicated, as it may involve many layered steps and processes that need to be tracked.

The key is to keep bouncing them off each other to make sure they remain aligned.

3. It’s the Psychology, Duh

If you don’t understand psychology, you will fail. The complexity of the What For requires you understand the human condition. It requires that you respond to each person’s reaction to the situation individually, one interaction at a time. There’s no one size fits all. That’s called propaganda. No one likes propaganda.

Emotional Intelligence. We are all motivated by emotions. To rely solely on cold-hard facts and logic is to ignore the human condition. No one wants to be treated like a cog in the process machine. Find a way to connect. If you can’t, find someone who can. It’s worth the effort.

4. Focus, Focus, Focus

There are a thousand thousand problems to solve. Every twisting turn in the path will call for change. It’s a siren’s call. Stay focused. There will always be something else that wants your attention. Better to do one thing well than a thousand poorly.

The reasons to stay focused are many. My go to reason is that if you do the right thing well, many of the other problems just cease to exist. The other reason I go to is that focusing minimizes variables. Too many projects means too many variables. Too many variables makes it hard to know which ones are working for good and which ones are working for evil.

So what do we say to the god of distractions. Not today.

5. Go back to the beginning. Often.

Keep revisiting the first four points.

This is important especially because of point #4. All the siren calls will fill the system with noise. It’s easy to lose the signal.

It’s also important because as you dive into the tactical details going back to what you are trying to achieve keeps you out of those rabbit holes that get you so easily caught up in the wrong priorities. Because just like you have to pick and choose what to change at the higher level, you also have to pick and choose what to change at the detail level.

And for point #3, make sure you aren’t losing people. It’s a long haul. You’ll have to work to keep them engaged.

Make sure it’s all still working together.

So there it is. Ready to be put right into action. Oh, the indisputability of it all.

 

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Feed-Your-Head_000

 

So you want to be a change agent. That’s awesome.

I first ask myself what does that mean. It means different things to different people.

To me it means helping change culture and attitudes so that change and improvement can occur more naturally. Changing processes and rules and mechanics are just a subset of change.

Well, in order to attack change in this way you need the right frame of mind and the right skills. Essentially you need to train your brain. These will be different skills than typical process methodologies like Lean or Six sigma or whatever the latest trends are. So here are some thoughts on your brain.

Being in control of your brain

This skill probably applies more universally that the one that follow but perhaps the key. I have people tell me as a point of pride that they’re always thinking, their brains never turn off. They think about shit when driving, when lying in bed at night, when standing in line. It never stops. In fact they can’t stop it.

I’m sorry but that’s not good. Not for your health or your cognitive abilities. You need to be able to control when and what you think about.

You need to quiet your mind. Give it a chance to recover, reenergize itself. It’s like a muscle and if your work it, work it, work it, it will wear out. You need to meditate (or I guess the buzz word now is practice mindfulness).

Meditation is basically quieting your mind. It serves two key purposes here. It supplies the recovery mentioned about. But also in practicing to quiet your mind you gain discipline and control over your mind. Think of when you have struggled with a  problem and then gone to bed and woke up and have an ah-ha moment. Meditation is like controlling that process. It’s allowing your subconscious mind to do some heavy lifting and association. It’s really good at that. You should let it do that. In fact you should make it do that.

There are lots of good resources out there for meditation. Check them out. Be your brain.

Become a Psychologist

One of the keys to change is knowing it’s the people. Most of the books I’ve read on change and process improvement spend about one chapter on how to work with the “difficult” people, with the resistance. One chapter. Really. You’re going to help me master an understanding of the human psyche in one chapter. I highly doubt it. So you’re going to have to become a psychologist on your own.

You need to understand human behavior. What makes people do what they do? You need to look into motivational psychology, cognitive behavior therapy and even counseling techniques. It’s so helpful in reducing frustration over unwanted behaviors as well as helpful in creating counter-measures.

If you’re going to practice some psychology then you also need to learn how to read people. You need to learn about body language and facial expressions. You need to understand what they are saying and what they are not saying.

Again there are lots of resources out there. Be the counselor.

Become Empathetic

Understanding the people you are trying to help is obviously important. Empathy is the act of being able to place oneself in another’s shoes. Empathy is not to be confused with sympathetic feelings or condoning of behavior.

Too often we think that empathy is a thing you have or you don’t. And surely some people’s genetics may make them more empathetic. But empathy can be learned. It’s skill that takes practice but it can be acquired. Check these thoughts out: http://www.experis.us/Job-Seekers/Research-and-Insights/Career-Center/Strengthening-Your-Empathy-Ski.htm

A word of caution on this though: Gaining empathy skills can often be offset by reacting to our newfound insight with cynicism and judging. It’s probably easy to go there. Kind of like the Dark Side.

Feed Your Head  

Literally, feed your head. Just like taking care of other parts of your body, your brain needs nutrients. Make sure it gets them.

Oxygen. Your brain needs lots of it. This means being in shape and maintaining good cardio conditioning. Get the blood to the brain. Get up and move.

Brain food. Amino acids are what make your brain go. Especially Dimethylglycine (or DMG).  Look it up. Here’s a start: http://www.needs.com/product/NDNL-0605-01/l_DMG_Dimethylglycine

And of course you should eat foods good for the noggin. Again lots of sources on that. Here is one: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/brain-food-superfoods_n_1895328.html

Badda Bing

Off you go. Take a step in the right direction.