Change Implementation Techniques for Laying a Foundation for New Ways

Technique 1.20 Profile of Knowledge

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(teachable point of view)

This technique identifies why a person approaches work as he or she does; it opens up his or her assumptions, beliefs and experiences to colleagues, bosses and staff. Furthermore, it opens people's heads to reveal the origins of good ideas and important insights.

The process is initiated by the senior executive. His/her answers are given to his/her direct reports; they answer the questions with their boss's answers in front of them. Then these people pass their and their boss's answers to the next level of the organisation. After debate and discussion, these executives should write down their own responses to the same questions. These executives share their responses with the next level of the organisation. This sequence continues....

This involves modifying culture through stories and thus demystifying change. It can have the powerful effects of turning everyone in the organisation into a leader and teacher of change. It is a written explanation of what a person knows and believes about what it takes to succeed in his or her own business as well as in business generally and makes employees think like shareholders. It encourages employees to answer the following questions:

1. What do consumers really value?

2. What would it take to knock out the competition?

3. What dynamics ‐ from on‐line buying to demographic changes ‐ will drive the markets in 5 years?

4. What kinds of people should the organisation hire in order to reach its goals?

5. How does a leader know when to drive new technology?

6. How does he or she know when to abandon a sinking ship?

All points of view have 4 basic building blocks: ideas, values, emotional energy and edge.

1 Ideas

The ideas section lays out a person's theory about organisational success in terms of products or services, distribution channels, customer segments, etc. It makes explicit the set of assumptions and beliefs the person holds about what will make the organisation successful in the marketplace.

2 Values

The values section of the teachable point of view encompasses an individual's personal ideology such as a strong belief in honesty and integrity. Furthermore, it must explain the values he or she endorses in supporting the organisation's goals.

3 Emotional energy

Emotional energy refers to a person's thinking about how to motivate other people such as action learning programs, face‐to‐face coaching, formal development programs, task force, daily strategy formulations, budgeting and performance reviews. People are energised when they understand the context of their work. They are further motivated when they are expected to deliver results. Sometimes the power of scale and speed is important, ie the faster and wider you roll out an initiative, the more the energy becomes contagious.

4 Edge

Edge refers to a person's individual thought process for making difficult decisions. How do you make the tough calls? The discussion of edge in a teachable point of view makes the why and how of these decisions clear.

There are 3 main reasons the teachable point of view works in change situations:

1. It makes people better leaders as they are forced to think above the day‐to‐day issues and to understand why they lead as they do ‐ such as why they act in certain ways in a crisis situation. In the process, the leaders penetrate the underlying assumptions about themselves, the organisation and business in general. Implicit knowledge becomes explicit and can then be questioned, refined and honed to both the individual's and organisation's benefit.

2. The power of the teachable point of view is in its multiplier effect and its speed. In Ford it started with one teaching 200, then they taught 1,200 more who taught it to 55,000 more ‐ all within a year.

3. It helps develop people. The traditional way of developing leaders by example takes a long time and leaves many insights unarticulated.

By using the teachable point of view, leaders have an explicit body of knowledge to impart. It helps them construct a framework for their own ideas, which helps others build knowledge as well.

The way Ford Motor Company used this method was to select key strategic challenges facing them. In separate teams, the senior executives analysed each challenge (including relating them to the concept of shareholder value). As part of this, each team participated in:

Team‐building exercises

Community service projects (one of Ford's strategies is to be a world‐class corporate citizen; furthermore, working in communities is a very powerful leadership‐development experience)

360 degree feedback


Plenty of conversation and debate about future projects.

The spouses or partners of the senior executives were involved in these workshops at Ford. It was acknowledged that they cannot effectively change an organisation without talking about how it is going to influence people at home as well as on the job.

The next level of management was asked to conduct a similar exercise but to concentrate on projects that tackle cost problems or discover new sources of revenue in their own areas.

Furthermore, by sending weekly E mails, the CEO is able to directly communicate on issues facing the organisation with all his staff and the staff are able to respond with questions, suggestions, etc. For this to succeed the CEO must be up‐front with his staff.

Jacques Nasser elaborates

"...I've seen a tremendous change in how people view the business. It's more subtle than a change in our culture, although that's happening. The shift involves the way people are thinking about their careers and contributions within the company and how they are thinking about the competition..."

It should be noted that rote learning, memorisation, and the authoritarian delivery of information do not work well. Playfulness, story‐telling, coaching and support don't always make people feel good, but they make people more mindful ‐ and less likely to slip into a semiconscious frame of mind where they "go through the motions" and shortcut the learning process.

(source: Suzy Wetlaufer, 1999)


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