After publishing the Miyamoto model per se in this artice, I want to go a little more in detail concerning the process of implanting this new management model, its preconditions, dynamics and consequences.
As I stated in Part I, the mindset of the people within a company is the crucial part in building a resilient, agile and strategically smart company. In my work with companies I examined these four values as the most important ones: openness, honesty, trust and security.
If agility is the fruit, mindset is the seed
Most companies confronted with their development towards “agility” (or hoewever they call it) show signs of reluctance, even resistance against the agile change. This is absolutely normal because most companies dramatically underestimate the extend of fear associated with that change: What work will I do after that change? Will I lose money or status? And of course: Will I still have a job at all? Creating an atmosphere of security is essential in a project playing with people’s workplaces and mindset.
So before such a project starts the management at least must honestly try to create mechanisms for both physical and psychological security: a plan and budget for professional (!) communication as well as an early warning system for “stir-ups” – not to push them back in their holes but to make them even more visible to discuss them in public. Also “employees of trust” should be in place who could function as negotiators in conflict cases (which WILL arise). So security is the dominant factor to think about even before the project starts. No felt security, no will to take on risks, no change, no success.
Felt security is briefly connected to two other mechanisms which have to be there: honesty and trust. In 95 % of all change programs I see the project failing due to these two factors. The reasons are numerous: a negative change history, two-faced communication by the management, the feeling that machines and processes are more valuable then humans and so on. Especially trust is something that needs much time to be build and almost no time to be busted. So we should also change the phrase of “trust-building measures” towards “trust-building people”. Without people and an atmosphere of trust there will be no honesty and furthermore, no openness.
Normal organizations don’t reward honesty but lies and politics
The situation mostly gets worse because in “normal” organisations honesty is not something you are rewarded for. Quite contrary to that, politics, lies and personal advantages dominate the own behaviour as well as the expectations regarding the behaviour of others. (I guess, the whole buzz about transformational leadership, inspirational leadership and so on is nothing more than the attempt to recreate honesty and trust – without naming it that way).
Only with a profound way of creating security, trust and honesty the fourth value comes to life: openness. Openness means the ability and the will to try something new: at the workplace, concerning the collaboration with other people, production innovation and so on. But even in some honest, secure companies of trust openness will not happen. That is due to certain cultural reasons which Edgar Schein calls “deep, wide and stable”. Some companies may be bound to traditional thinking customers or work in the governmental sphere. Both cases are examples for a rather “closed” than “open” mindsets.
So how do we begin to foster an innovative mindset? How do we spread hope and energy for that change process? Concerning the creation of that new mindset, I follow these principles when working with a company:
1. Start change at the top
New Work or agile initiatives often start with a paradox: The aim is more self-organization and more “distributed responsibility” throughout the workforce but the starting impulse comes out of the still hierarchical organization, aka the top management. This top management and the whole community of leaders live from now on in a difficult situation: On the one hand they should foster the change and “lose the rope”, on the other hand they are still responsible for the company results and have grown into a business world where mentally leadership is associated with values like control, punishment, the dominance of statistical figures and so on.
So the top management and the leaders’ community must be treated seperately for their change of mindset will be the biggest. They need to be given the opportunity to exchange doubts, to clarify leadership principles and to form an honest (!) and secure (!) way to work with each other – before working with the employees. Often the top management also needs coaching to reflect their own fears and what they can contribute to the new mindset process. Without the commitment of the top maangement and the leaders’ community the miyamoto process will die before it has even started.
2. Make allies, not enemies
Most people don’t like change – and that’s okay. Change is tiring, sometimes frustrating, with an open end. But people react differently to change – and these individual approaches should be used for the change process. Let’s say, that 20 % of the employees welcome change and hope for the better. 60 % are on the brink and 20 % fear change and are not willing to cooperate. Often it is said that change should concentrate on these last 20 % – to persuade them and to avoid resistance and sabotage.
I would go the other way. Look for allies and partners in the top 20 % and in the middle 60 %. Convince people by your personal honesty and openness to give you credit for leading them. Don’t bullshit them. Talk about risks, maybe your personal fears. But also about why that change makes sense to you and why you need their support. Employees are adults, but are often treated like Kindergarten children. Stop that. If your employees feel that they are taken seriously, they are much more likely to cooperate and even be ambassadors for the change.
3. Give people a voice
In most change projects the top management mistake information for communication. For employees this circumstance is in the best case irritiating, in the worst case desastrous for the acceptance and the promised outcome of the change. There’s a huge difference between information and communication: A CEO sending out an all-hands mail, informs his people about something. A CEO debating with company representatives (employees, works council etc.) communicates with his people.
To avoid reluctance and anger, stick to that rule: Give people a voice. They want to be heard. If you don’t think of employees as programmable objects, then don’t tread them like that. Use panels like Open Spaces, World Cafés, Bar Camps, Focus Groups – whatever suits you in the purpose of bringing people together and talk about the important things for them. Don’t judge, just listen. And make sure that the results of tha communication processes are processed and used for the further change initiative.
4. Let change happen
Although managers in organisations claim to welcome change, they often seem to be surprised when it actually happens. Not only because employees are – under the right circumstances – more curious and open-minded than they are considered to be, but because the changes sometimes takes a direction or is of an intensity the management underestimated in the first place. The reason is simple: When people get a taste of responsibility and purpose regarding their work, they want more of it.
So it is important to let the change happen even if that doesn’t completely fit the mental blueprint of the management. Even more, the ideas and learnings from these unintentional change aspects are often the most valuable ones. Because they provide the organisation with unexpected opportunities to grow, with insights for improvement and reflexions on the company culture.