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POSTED ON 23-FEB-2015

Seeing is Believing

I was reading the Black and Gregersen book, ‘To Change the Organization, First Change the Individual’. The author suggests that there are three barriers to change;

1: Failure to See

2: Failure to Move

3: Failure to Finish

Two weeks ago, I witnessed a conversation that allowed two managers to see very clearly.

The boss is a Visionary and an Entrepreneur who normally sees further than most of us and has no problem moving quickly and effectively. He always has people with him to finish with him. He openly recognizes that as someone who likes to start projects, he is not the best at finishing them.

The other manager is one of the best Operations people, I have ever met. He is a great believer in data and process, making him an effective foil for the Entrepreneur.

The Operations manager prepared beautifully for the conversation; itemising risks and rewards of the plan under review. He included a personal appeal to the boss. This was a real risk that could have had serious consequences.

When an energetic Entrepreneur is told that his plan does not have the full backing of the management team he can do a number of things; explode, threaten to sack everybody or listen.

In this case, the boss listened. This sounds a bit religious but, once he heard what was being said, he saw. The failure to see had blinded him to a number of things; how serious and competent his managers were and his plan had several flaws. He had not seen because of his enthusiasm to move and of course, be the hero. The single mindedness and drive Entrepreneurs can blinker them from all of the facts.

The boss needs to be given great credit, in that he overcame his failure to see and asked for help the next day. The Black and Gregersen book recounts the sad tale of individuals who cannot see and do not have managers who can, or feel able to confront. This inertia has stopped change and good companies regress rather than progress.

Since the boss has opened his eyes to the facts, things have progressed at speed the Operations manager has been promoted, the plan has been changed, not destroyed. Amazingly several long, standing issues have been addressed and finished. There is new energy in the management team and an affirmation that facts permit critical thinking and create better decision making.

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