As we start 2016, I would like to open our imaginations a bit and examine work and life from a couple of Japanese concepts that we have all heard about but few truly understand. The first we are going to look at is “Ikigai” or “the why you get up every day” and the second is “Kaizen” or “the philosophy of continuous improvement in work and personal lives”.
Many authors discuss these topics independently but I really feel they need to be combined to realize the real power that is present in their use and empowerment. Here we are going to examine an integrated process that can help you become more intentional and empowering in 2016.
Ultimately, I believe that everyone wants to be known for being productive and efficient, but not everyone shares the same definition of effective job performance. In reality, if you determine the reality of limited resources, you’ll generally find that misaligned expectations between leadership and employees is the primary reason many requests are denied. It should not be surprising that this results in workplace disengagement, poor morale, reduced productivity and declining financial performance. If the cycle continues; investments in this deteriorating environment are even less likely to be made.
If you haven’t noticed, we live in an ever-changing world, personally, business and socially. I can’t guarantee much but I can guarantee that many things you are comfortable with today will change in the next 12 months. If you are a leader you are not only involved in change but you often initiate change so your ability to understand the impact of change is monumental.
Everything evolves, improves or devolves and disappears. We want things to get better as long as we don’t have to be inconvenienced or affected so there is the paradox. We can’t have it both ways! Therefore, I want to tackle a very controversial topic that everyone must deal with.
Examples of changes I have experienced:
Most major retailers today have introduced self-checkout but we continue to see long lines where there are two checkers and hardly anyone at the self-checkout machines. Each in the line is mumbling, “They should just hire more check-out people. I don’t want to use those”. Trust me, there will be more self-checkout machines and less checkers in years to come. I would even suggest we will see an order online and pick up at the store getting more press. I have embraced the changes and help people understand them better.
Growing up in Minnesota, we didn’t have TV until the early 50’s. We could only get 3 channels and NO remote control. Yes, it was Black & White only. Just when we were comfortable, color became the big rage so another change. In the 80’s we saw the introduction of cable with many channels available. Now, we began the struggle with what do we watch? Change but we prevailed. I embraced the changes how about you.
In 1977 I bought my first computer, it was a TRS 80 with 4K of ram and wrote to a cassette tape and I was excited. In 1981, after many computer upgrades, I began to travel the internet and that was exciting. You needed to have some background in UNIX to navigate it well but it was fun. Today, my iPhone is so superior to my first computer that it is immeasurable in terms of quantity and quality of experience. What’s wrong with change? Why do we resist something better? Does your business embrace this change effectively?
In terms of work environments over the years, I have seen a move from a strong industrially based society to one with the emphasis on knowledge management. Management is evolving from command and control to collaborative leadership with an emphasis on transparency, authenticity and trust. Here we are seeing a lot of resistance, much of it due to fear. I continue to not only embrace but champion this change.
Are people who hate change or refuse to change fighting a losing battle? In my opinion, YES!
Personally, I believe change is hard-wired into our universe. Seasons are a perfect indicator, winter becomes spring, spring becomes summer, summer becomes fall and fall becomes winter. We often perceive that this year will move faster than previous years but it will move at the same pace chronologically. It is technology that is the accelerant, it makes things appear to happen faster, albeit instantaneously.
Here are some examples of current and future changes:
You can order almost any product or services from the privacy of your own home almost on a 24/7 basis. Now this has some good points and some negative points depending on your point of view. For example, brick & mortar retail has been forced to change from the primary distributor of goods to the provider of entertainment in the process of providing the same products or services. Finding a competitive advantage can be very elusive if you can’t think outside the box.
Physicians and other medical professionals are able to be reached by video sources and actually diagnose or prescribe medications with ease and efficiency. They can schedule appointments provide common results via email. Limits the excuses we have for going to the doctor, at least scheduling an appointment.
Conference calls can now be done with an active video on a real-time basis using tools like Zoom.US, Skype and others. The quality is actually as good as being face to face but without the expenses in a global environment. This is a good replacement for face to face interactions but it will not replace the trust, emotion and value that does come from a regular in person meeting. Still the change is good.
Driverless cars are on the near future horizon, so how do you feel about it? I love driving but the more I have thought about the process, I am ready to embrace the idea. No more fretting with traffic jams, irrational actions by other drives, or bad weather. I look forward to being able to use commute time for learning and preparation rather than concentrating on the road. Will it impact a number of other industries, absolutely so if these industries are not proactive they will become as extinct as the Dodo bird?
More and more examples or occurring daily. Will you embrace the change or drag your heals kicking and screaming? Yes, some changes are more difficult than others but our attitude about change is a choice that we make every day. You have control of how you address the issues but if you choose to fight a change, understand that it will not be easy and the cost may be high, personally and corporately.
Continuing to resist change usually does us no good. We should prepare ourselves by shifting our hearts and minds to the perception that most change is good and good for many. Change should make things easier and better.
Resisting something takes a lot of energy. It will force you to challenge your values and mores to ensure they are unconditionally sound. There will be some changes that your values won’t allow you to take advantage of, but as with all change the choice is yours.
Here are some questions I ask myself when looking at change:
Is the change necessary and who determined the necessity?
Is it morally and socially acceptable based on my current view of honesty, integrity and transparency? Does it violate my view of right and wrong?
Who will be effected the most? Myself, my family, my community, my country, a small group, a privileged group or the whole of civilization?
Will the change have an impact on other industries and how will that impact be accepted by that group?
Does the potential benefit of the change outweigh the costs personally, financially, socially and spiritually?
Will my world be improved or destroyed by accepting the change?
Is it something that I need to meditate or pray about before acknowledging?
With these seven questions you have the ability to make a choice about the change. But remember participation in the transition of change may be uncomfortable at first. However, it can also add to your energy, therefore providing you with more energy to devote to something else.
Using your energy to resist change can be wasteful and futile. Also remember that most changes are not life threatening now or in the immediate future. In the end, you have the power to determine the quality and effectiveness of your life, work and leadership by your response to our ever-changing world.
If you would like to have a workshop for your employees to help facilitate a change please check out the Transformative Leadership website or call me at 630-454-4821.
Are you faced with an internal or external reorgs, or are you planning a merger soon? Here are some very brief tips to keep in mind when starting the process.
Determining the value of a re-org is based on learning to measure success across the critical (and equal) elements of results, processes, and relationships. These are interdependent aspects that can make a difference once everyone realizes that there must be balance.
Generally, we recommend doing a performance assessment and based on the results, the team can be shown how to realize that it must answer two critical questions:
How will the members would work together with revised or new reporting relationships (for example, moving from being a direct report to a peer) and,
How will the team add value and be held accountable in revised or new relationships. (For example, being collaborators rather than silo employees.
I have spent the last few weeks talking about soft skills, now we will see how some of those can be used by the entrepreneur. In today’s business world the small – medium privately held business faces a number of growth roadblocks that can impede their growth and success in their market place. While I have seen lists upwards of 25 potential growth roadblockes, they can really be digested to these ten. An organization may be dealing with one or more of these at one stage or another of their growth over the last 24 – 36 months.