Are we capable of change?

In Canada, there will be a great deal of change coming our way in the next few years as we begin to introduce privatization into many industries. We have already seen it for some essential municipal services and some basic provincial healthcare services, but soon we will see it on an even larger scale.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome will be our perception that privatization is a bad thing. We are so used to the government providing us services that we think they are the only providers we should have. Yet at the same time, we complain about the services we are receiving and that our tax dollars are being wasted. Sounds like our expectations and our behaviour is out of whack.

In Ontario, beer sales are already privatized under Brewer’s Retail, which is jointly owned by three private beer companies, yet most people think it is run by the government. There are private healthcare clinics where people can pay for the services that they need. We have public-private partnerships where much of the funding for certain public services is being provided by private companies. Privatization is all around us and should not be a dirty word, when done properly.

With the amount of change we will see in the next few years, the biggest question I ponder is, “Are we capable of making the necessary changes?” For most change initiatives, there are only three groups of people:

  1. The early adopters, who are constantly looking for change and embrace it. These people represent about 20% of any group.
  2. The masses, who will go along with almost any change initiative without much resistance. These people represent about 50% of any group.
  3. The dissenters, who will never embrace any form of change. They represent the remaining 30%.

If you focus on the first two groups, you will be successful. Here are some things we need to work on in order to increase our capability to deal with the coming changes:

  • We need to embrace new ways of operating and let go of the past. Just like a snake sheds its old skin each year, we need to shed our old ways of thinking and doing business. When industries change, the business models within those industries also need to change. Just because something worked in the past doesn’t mean it will continue to work. In fact, most times it won’t.
  • We need to create ambassadors for change and arm them with the tools to help with the transition. Recruit ambassadors from the early adopters group (and you might even get some from the masses) and have them help make the change by supporting their colleagues and developing easier methods for transition. If these ambassadors are chosen appropriately and at all levels, people will follow them.
  • We need to anticipate the risks and take actions to mitigate those risks. There are always going to be risks associated with any change, but we need to identify what the possible risks and roadblocks are and take steps to remove or mitigate them.

Change that is forced from the top-down will never work, but the vision from leadership needs to be clear. There needs to be a clear road map to get from where you are today to where you need to be and set up sign posts along the way for people to follow. If you remove the fear of the unknown, people will be more open to making the necessary change.

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – August 5, 2013
Many of the best athletes in the world recognize that there is always room for improvement. They realize that they can get even better at what they do, so they hire a coach to help them get there. Tiger Woods had a swing coach even when he was dominating professional golf. Michael Jordan always had coaches helping him get better. Pete Sampras had a personal coach even when he was winning grand slam events. The point is that it is important to have a coach to help you get better at what you do. In sports, we aren’t always capable of improving our own performance so hiring the right coach or mentor or adviser can help us improve faster and more effectively.
So why is hiring a coach or mentor perceived so differently in the business world? Why is it perceived by some as a sign of weakness when a senior executive hires a coach? Why are some senior executives fearful that by hiring a coach or mentor or adviser it is a sign of weakness? The same principles from above apply. Some top executives realize that an outside influence is what they need but others are fearful of being perceived as weak or as a failure because they can’t do it on their own. This is simply a matter of self-esteem. If you recognize that you can improve and have high enough self-esteem, you will do what it takes to achieve those improvements. Hiring an outside adviser is not a sign of weakness, it’s just the opposite. It takes high self esteem to acknowledge that you can achieve more with an outside perspective and someone guiding you along the way, and then doing something about it.
If it works for Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Pete Sampras and other world-class athletes, then it should be good enough for all of us as well.
To request an interview or more information, please contact:
Andrew Miller
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013.

How does technology support operational excellence?

My view of technology is that it should support and enable your strategy, not drive it. As it pertains to operational excellence, here are some questions you should be considering:

  • How can technology help us attract and retain the best people?
  • How can technology help drive innovation and collaboration?
  • How can we use technology to engage with our customers better and increase retention?
  • How can technology help us align our success measures and tactics with the overall strategy?
  • How can technology help us optimize speed?

These are only a few questions you should consider and I will provide some insights into these questions over the next few days and weeks.