Hi, I’m David Veech and this is Elevate Your Performance.
Let’s take a quick look back at what happened on December 8 in history, then we’ll get into today’s topic - Cultures of Excitement
Perhaps the first crack in the glass ceiling occurred on this day in 1660 when a woman was allowed to play the part of Desdemona in Shakespeare’s Othello. Apparently up to this point, men played all the roles, even email characters like Desdemona.
On the bad news side, today in 1980, John Lennon was murdered outside of his Manhattan apartment building by Mark David Chapman.
Let see what shapes up for today and what kind of history we can make.
Today, I want to continue building on the evolution of corporate culture. We started with a culture of defiance, then compliance. Compliance is the default organizational culture. No matter what we do, we normalize in compliance and we’ll get locked in there if we don’t deliberately shake things up.
For future business survival, we have to break out of Compliance as often as we can think to and we do that first by asking for involvement. In a culture of involvement, leaders ask for input to improve the workplace. A lot of leaders in a lot of organizations do this regularly, but we can’t sustain this and push to the next level without certain working systems that allow us to process the input from involved employees productively.
As we push past involvement and begin allowing employees to not just share ideas, but participate in testing and implementing their ideas, we lay the foundation for a culture of excitement.
We love a workplace that’s exciting. But what is it that excites people?
Participation is a big part of it. So what are we asking people to participate in with us? One of the more popular activities is a rapid improvement event. These events go by a wide variety of names: Kaizen Event, Kaizen Blitz, Action Workout, 5 days/4 nights, Improvement workshops…anything.
They are focused activities that bring a cross-functional group of people together for a set period of time…usually 5 days. In that week, participants receive focused training on solving the problem at hand or implementing a particular strategy - something like creating a work cell, or a 5S campaign to organize the workplace.
These same kinds of things make for popular Television Shows like Trading Spaces, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Fixer-Upper, or Flip or Flop. These are focused on getting the maximum result possible in the minimum amount of time.
What makes these exciting is the attention, the resources available, and the results. These events are facilitated by skilled team members. The tools they employ are designed to equalize the group so that the input from the front-line employee weighs the same as input from the CEO. That’s very satisfying for most of us mortal humans.
So in that week, we feel listened to. We feel like we matter. We help make a real change in the workplace, and we can measure that change to show how much better we made things. And that feeling of “look what we did” or “I helped” and “We won” is wonderful. I think it’s winning that excites us the most. So these events have to leave us feeling like we won.
But how long does it last?
When the event is over and the facilitators go on to the next event, the participants are usually back to their old status - just team members. They’ll remember how exciting the event was and they’ll say things like “I can’t wait till the Kaizen team comes back to do that with us again.”
A culture of excitement runs on events. Since events are usually limited in scope to a small area that can actually get finished in a week, for a large organization, people might never participate in a second event.
These events drive great improvements in organizations of all kinds. They work. Don’t misunderstand me. But they don’t create real, broad employee ENGAGEMENT. The difference is critical.
I’ll talk more about that in the next post.
Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.