Surfacing assumptions LO14693

Scott Simmerman (
Thu, 14 Aug 1997 17:36:38 -0400

Replying to LO14653 --

Bob Williams said in LO14653:

>So we have a list of possible improvements to the way in which the
>organisation operates. (snip) ...what is needed is to peel the next
>layer off the onion ?

>Surfacing and exploring assumptions is in my experience a tricky area.
>Handled badly it is the easiest way in the world to bring an otherwise
>successful workshop to a grinding, silent, sullen halt.

>What techniques have people found useful, in a workshop setting, to
>help people through what is often a difficult, sometimes undiscussible

Peeling the onion sounds pretty painful! My experience in organizations
says that these layers are pretty tightly bonded to people (especially
leadership!) and most don't like getting their beliefs peeled or flayed

This morning, we did a workshop with the top management team of a health
maintenance organization. They had come prepared with a list of 6, 12,
18 and 24 month goals and were there for strategic planning purposes.
They brought me in to rattle cages, stimulate some new thinking, and
generate some momentum for the journey. I used Square Wheels.

My discussion with them focused on the same assumptions / issues.

The key concept was: "Nobody Ever Washes A Rental Car."

If ANY implementation is successful, leaders need to push understanding
and ownership down as far as they can. If people have not bought into
the issues and opportunities, long term success will depend on having
very good measurement and feedback systems and the probably reliance on
extrinsic motivators.

(little voice in back of mind says, "Oh NO!! Not that again!)

The other implementation reality is teams. Letting teams help "solve"
these problems and get involved must transfer The View From The Front
more toward the back and gets risk spread around 5 or 6 people versus
depending on some individual Champion. Shared risk, multiplied success,
peer pressure for performance.

Leaders also need to reinforce and reward the mistakes, since these will
occur and long-term implementation will involve a lot of them. A focus
on perfection will stifle the innovation. And perceived lack of support
is deadly.

"Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled."

But also recognize that the round wheels already exist in the wagon and
that the pushers may already be aware of them - it is often leadership
that is isolated from the reality of getting things done. Leadership
must engage and enlist the people in the improvement effort.

Another key is stopping the effort long enough to step back and look at
how things really work.

"We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are."
Max DePree

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Performance Management Company 3 Old Oak Drive, Taylors, SC 29687 (USA) 864-292-8700 fax 292-6222

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