Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Factors Important for Deeloping Love of Change

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Factors Important for Deeloping Love of Change

Article excerpt

I have time and again insisted that making everyone's business perpetual improvement is the single most important competitive weapon for the volatile, global '90s. More pointedly, I remonstrate about ``learning to love change.''

Not surprisingly, I am repeatedly asked to ``operationalize it.'' Few disagree with the prescription, but getting there is a far different matter.

The following factors, taken together as they must be, go a long way toward inducing a requisite fondness for change.

- Trust/respect/don't underestimate potential. Begin with the ``knock-out factor.'' If you, as a manager, don't trust, respect and see the full potential in the average front-line employee - well, forget all that follows.

If we've learned anything from the experiences of Ford, Harley-Davidson, NUMMI, Worthington Industries, Johnsonville Foods, Milliken & Company and other firms profiled in this column over the years, it is that people will rise to the occasion if sincerely and respectfully asked to do so. That clerk who successfully races cars on the weekend, and the secretary raising three kids by holding another job-and-a-half outside of ``normal'' hours, surely have the wherewithal to respond with ideas and commitment - if you exhibit the trust, care and support that demonstrate your commitment to them.

- Insist upon (and promote) lifelong learning. I, and others, such as Harvard Professor Rosabeth Kanter, don't cotton to the old notion of corporate loyalty: ``Keep your nose clean and we'll give you a home here.'' Today, loyalty given is a matter of the company committing to help a person grow perpetually; loyalty returned is the employees' willingness to contribute as long as the company abets their growth (i.e., their personal ``competitiveness'').

The individual unafraid of change is the individual constantly re-tooling her or his skills, and occasionally re-potting them entirely. ``Education'' for today's surviving firm or employee (that lover of change) goes far beyond a patchwork of occasional training courses. Instead, the commitment to continuous learning per se becomes the driving/defining force that energizes the person, his or her career, and the firm as a whole.

- Share information. Sharing all the numbers is a major form of trust (see above). But it also allows people to join the boss in playing ``the great game of business,'' as Springfield Remanufacturing's peerless chief, Jack Stack, calls it. When people are privy to the numbers (where they come from, what they mean, how the individual influences them), miracles of engagement, commitment and contribution occur. …

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