Posted on October 12, 2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

Leading Change at the Speed of Electrons (Part II)
In my last post, I discussed why it was important to make decisions closer to the point of discovery; hence, closer to the point of change.  I explained that, what was needed to change at the speed of electrons, was trained employees.  “Trained in what?” you ask.  Good question.  That’s the subject of this post.
Simplistically, good decision-making has two components: 
  1. Data gathering & analysis
  2. Knowledge of what comprises a good decision

Data gathering seems easy if you’ve done it all your career, but has your organization taught the lower echelon of its employees how to do it?  Chances are high that the answer is “No,” yet those employees are often the ones closest to the point of discovering changes.  So job one is to teach employees how to create Check Sheets of various types.  Don’t just teach them, give them homework and check it.

Once employees know how to gather data, the next trick is to teach them how to analyze it.  The best tools for doing that are Run Charts, Pareto Charts and Histograms.  So, you’ll need to teach them how to use the data they collected to make and interpret those charts.  From this point on, the data should point the way.  Follow the data.
Transitioning from analysis to decision-making is often straightforward, but a good coach can walk employees through the situations that are a little more complex.  Having access to a good coach – especially in the early stages of cascading decision-making downward – is critical.
Okay, you now have employees who can gather their own data, analyze it and make good decisions from it.  Bravo!  You’re halfway there.
The second half of your effort will be more cultural in nature.  You’ll need to overcome the mindset of those that sees authority as a zero sum proposition: If I have it, you don’t.  That’s a fallacy, but since so many accept it, let’s run with it for now.  Why is that a problem, and what can you do to change it? 
Most junior leaders, e.g. lead persons, supervisors and managers, often paid a steep price to get to a post where they had decision-making authority.  How probable do you think it is that they’ll just give it up?
So here you are, training decision-makers in the lower rungs of your organization.  What’s going to happen when they try to make a decision that a supervisor or manager or even a director thinks is theirs to make?  Answer: the junior person is going to lose and probably get their ear gnawed off (figuratively speaking).
Why did that happen?  Because before you “empower” your employees, you need to train leaders how to lead, and not just to manage.  You want to press management (decision-making through data analysis) as far down in the organization as you can, leaving those above them more time to do the things only they can do.  Like???
Like look over the horizon and plot the path forward.  The higher in the organization one goes, the greater the percentage of their time should be spent looking forward and blazing trail toward the future: improving processes, products, systems, etc.  
Meanwhile, what’s going on between our new decision-makers and our old ones?  Well, remember me talking about providing coaches?  Who better than the person already used to making the decisions?  

Impress on Supervisors the importance of coaching those below them.  Make it a part of their job description.  Make their success dependent on the success of their subordinates.  Have them hold daily huddles in which subordinates are asked to explain where they think the data are taking them and why.  Praise and encourage good decision-making.  Train or re-train poor decision-making.  
“So, what you’re telling me is that we start at the bottom of the organization and work our way up?”
No, but you’ll have to wait for the next post to get the third and final piece.
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