ne of the most memorable YouTube videos I've seen is How Wolves Change Rivers .
With the reintroduction in 1995 of wolves into Yellowstone National Park, after a 70 year absence, Wyoming scientists found that aspen and cottonwood groves recovered. Not because wolves were killing all the elk, but because elk stopped grazing like domestic livestock. The ecosystem recovered and flourished.
The regeneration of the ecosystem was a pleasantly unexpected result. I often use this video when facilitating change management training, as it generates great discussion about situations where people have experienced unexpected results while implementing changes.
At times, a successful change management implementation may incur surprise outcomes, both positive and negative. This may be caused by a lack of awareness and or understanding of how the change might impact all relevant stakeholders. When all stakeholders are not considered, the results can be frustration and potentially damage.
Perhaps it is the frustrated warehouse manager, who tells you he has no idea how he is going to store the refrigerated stock you just ordered, as the warehouse fridge only has the capacity to store a fifth of what you ordered.
Perhaps it is the QC testing lab, who just received a delivery of 200 raw material samples - an increased workload of 200%. They have not planned for the extra workload and do not have the required resources to meet the testing deadline.
Perhaps it is the worker who arrived at work Monday morning. When she turned on her computer, key work files had been moved to a new server location and she wasn't notified.
One strategy I've seen work well to mitigate such situations, is to have an organisational change impact checklist with all the key stakeholders listed. It is easy to overlook a department when relying on your memory, but a visual checklist will ensure you consider all potentially affected stakeholders.
This may sounds like a simplistic solution to manage a complex project, however just having a checklist will ensure that prior to any changes occurring, all stakeholders are considered and consulted, to minimise any potential frustration with the change process.
An organisation is like an ecosystem, not dissimilar to Yellowstone National Park. The processes and systems that work in harmony one day can be affected the next, with even one change potentially leading to unexpected results and the generation of a new ecosystem.
2016 has already been a rewarding one and at HFI, we have been very hard at work behind the scenes.
We are currently working on finalizing our online learning library, with a launch date of 2017.
If you would like to be notified when our library becomes live, please complete the registration form below "Sign up for Updates."
Some of the topics that will be available in our library include:
- Effective Communication
- Conducting Job Analysis
- Designing Effective Work Systems
- The Science of Shift Work
- Mindfulness in the Workplace
Are there any topics you would like to see in our online library?
The recent telco outage that caused widespread network interruptions, affecting millions of customers across the country, has been attributed to an "embarrassing human error".
"Unfortunately the individual that was managing that issue did not follow the correct procedure" stated the telco's chief operating officer. Was publicly pointing the finger at this employee the right approach?
The Blame Game
When something goes wrong, it can be a natural reaction to want to track down the person responsible for the error. However, does that achieve the desired outcome? It is an easy road, one that many of us have been guilty of taking. By pointing the finger, we risk oversimplifying a complex issue. We also risk creating a culture where employees are afraid to speak up when a mistake is made.
Procedure Not Followed
We may have seen this before - an employee did not follow the procedure. It is very rare that an employee deliberately sabotages a work process, most people want to do a good job. By asking the next question "why didn't the employee follow the procedure?" we may find potential weaknesses in the work processes and implement successful mitigation. Perhaps it is not the person, but a flawed procedure. After all, procedures are written by people, and if people can be flawed, so too can procedures.
Focus on the Process Not the Person
By focusing on the person, not the process breakdown, you risk making someone feel alienated. By mapping out the process, you can focus on finding the root cause/s, and you may be surprised at what you find.
Blaming a single employee for the recent outage has potentially uncovered weaknesses in their operating culture. Especially if you brand the issue as "embarrassing".