posted 26 May 2010 in Volume 13 Issue 8
Dillon Dhanecha introduces the first in a series of articles on capability building, by examining the foundations of the PICK [process, innovation, change and knowledge] competencies, which can help drive performance and facilitate change
Agile and flexible workforces driven by clear corporate goals are the surest way to consistent, sustainable and profitable growth. Developing the capabilities of frontline teams in core performance competences makes it possible for organisations to drive down the need for externally driven change programmes and drive up performance through systemic capability that facilitates rapid responses to change.
Increased requirements for cleaner processes, faster innovation, smoother transition periods and more relevant knowledge are influencing a new type of capability building initiative that is deployed at team level. True capability is built through a combination of process, innovation, change and knowledge (PICK) performance competencies.
Engaging workforces in these far-reaching capability building initiatives does more than merely shape high-performance, innovative and knowledge-driven organisations, with the capability to turn on a penny. It helps individuals to achieve strategic goals by thinking in process rather than functional boundaries and crucially, to identify with their role in achieving the corporate vision. A true win-win that is financially demonstratable.
Organisations deploying team-level capability building initiatives are successful because they have a pro-active capability to spot new opportunities and a reactive capability to deal effectively with the demands of fast-changing environments. In today’s dynamic eco-political setting, where new demands are coming from every direction, identifying, prioritising and moving quickly to new opportunities requires more than conventional change management frameworks.
To build true performance capability, a broader spectrum of competencies is required at team level to increase bottom-line impact from organisational change. In the ‘capable’ environment, role-specific and core performance competencies work seamlessly together in the delivery of daily tasks. Discrete programmes of change evolve naturally to true and continual improvement through a team-driven search for better performance.
In high-performance environments, clean processes drive fast innovation, which is transformed to new products and services through visionary change programmes, linked explicitly to and measured against corporate goals. Knowledge flows across process boundaries without obstruction and is an important strategic asset used by those who need it most at times where performance is at stake.
Combining PICK techniques, the core performance competencies, in this way fosters a proactive capability to drive growth while enhancing the reactive strength of teams to deal with the inevitable wild card demands.
Empowering workforces with the capability to improve performance in their daily tasks and decisions begins a cycle of efficiency that embeds continual improvement at the core of organisational activity. Fusing PICK performance techniques with those already used in the attainment of normal work quickly gives teams a wider perspective, making effective horizon scanning a natural and permanent by-product of everyday work.
PICK capability-building sessions built around the current issues facing teams enables learning to be firmly embedded through the achievement of real results. By delivering in context, the learning process itself is geared towards realising immediate benefits. Building change capability through PICK competencies motivates teams to attain higher performance levels through a more comprehensive view of how their efforts add to the achievement of corporate goals.
Team-driven learning, focusing on today’s issues and linking them to financial outcomes, delivers higher return on investment from your capability building programme.
The line between learning and doing is faint, making the process naturally sympathetic to the reality that most teams already feel overwhelmed by deadlines and are desperate to identify more efficient ways of working. Experience shows us that many of the clandestine process shortcuts taken by team members are perfectly viable ways of increasing efficiency when put against the risk/impact test.
It is the very ability of PICK competencies to bring teams into the corporate orbit that makes them the only way to build lasting change capability in the new eco-political environment, where success is guaranteed to whoever has the cleanest processes, the fastest innovation, the smoothest transition periods and the most knowledge about what they have learned during their corporate existence.
Developed by thechangestudio, the PICK-Up programme enables you to achieve better results across the entire value chain by learning to use process, innovation, change and knowledge management tools together to facilitate high performance at the frontline, in daily tasks.
By investing time and energy in building corporate awareness of core performance competencies at team level, organisations embracing PICK-Up are better able to:
Transform inefficient processes, rapidly and with lasting results;
Encourage innovation in product/service delivery from the core;
Respond more quickly and accurately to changes across the entire value-chain; and
Harness the power of corporate knowledge to consistently deliver a better internal and external customer experience.
Leading your organisation to PICKUp performance
Leaders who want to build high-performing teams with intrinsic capability to improve continually and respond quickly to new demands must be aware of the know-how needed to motivate, mobilise and lead people to a new way of working.
The emphasis of capability building is not on managing discrete change programmes. Rather, it necessitates a portfolio of knowledge and tools that take management of change from something ‘we do periodically’ to something that ‘defines our capability to respond quickly and decisively to new demands and opportunities’.
True capability of this kind requires accurate and current knowledge about the operating environment and the stakeholders within it. Moreover, it relies on engaging and empowering teams to mobilise quickly towards a common purpose.
Change capability as a pathway to consistent, sustainable and profitable growth
Introducing change ultimately affects people, process, technology or any combination of the three. Change capability that is built through PICK performance competencies enables all stakeholders to accurately define the deliverables of change in relation to their impact on bottom-line performance and the corporate vision.
It is able to do this through a combination of qualitative metrics that are the product of increased team work. Moreover, quantitative measures of performance are the natural drivers of PICK-driven change programmes; manifested in such things as improved process completion time (P), reduced time to market (I), change frameworks that have an intrinsic capability to measure bottom-line impact (C) and knowledge management frameworks that facilitate more relevant sharing (K).
Effective change involves identifying a current performance gap and moving to a future state where capability is higher, characterised by improvements in key performance indicators such as lower costs, higher output, increased market share, higher customer retention or better service delivery.
Most change initiatives fail due to a lengthened period of transition, during which time performance inevitably is falling while new ways of working are embedded. This extension of the transition period reduces the impact of benefits, which may come at a time when the environmental variables that prompted the change programme are no longer the same. Volatile business pressures require constant tweaking of internal operations to maintain the ‘upper hand’ over change and PICK competencies enable teams to make this happen.
Where PICK capabilities are not embedded to support change initiatives, long term performance suffers as organisations embark on consecutive, sometimes overlapping programmes which run over time, over budget and ultimately fail to deliver benefits of the magnitude expected at the outset and that were required to offset the drop in productivity during transition.
True change capability founded on PICK techniques enables teams to minimise performance drops during transition. They are better able to identify opportunities for higher-performance working, furnish leaders with accurate information for timely decision making, modify processes to suit the new environment and directly impact product or service delivery. Since change has become a constant management endeavour, the risk of constant drops in performance as teams move to new opportunities is minimised in environments where capability is high and improvement continual.
What is the role of change agents in embedding a fast-moving culture that is able to deal with constantly changing environments?
Whilst the title of change agent has been in use for some time, the constituent skills that make an effective agent for organisational change have evolved dramatically.
Understanding the role of change agent or more latterly performance agent, helps leaders to engage teams more effectively in the drive towards greater performance and therefore allows them to build momentum for the transition from change management to continual improvement.
In the short term, taking on the role of performance agent does not do anything to free leaders of their workloads; in fact an additional effort is required. In the medium and long term there are distinct benefits of improved capability at team level as delegated tasks are completed without error.
The performance role that successful executives take is one which is fully integrated in to the way they do business, characterised by five action-inspiring behaviours:
Build a commitment to higher performance in others – performance should be at the core of all tasking, delegating and progress measurement. Use the words, link tasks to corporate goals and define the value added;
Develop and strengthen a network of performance-activists – those people who are not afraid to speak up about what does not work in their teams and further, are prepared to offer their shortcuts up for solutions;
Spread the message of performance – use every opportunity to talk about performance with colleagues, partners, suppliers and clients to develop a momentum for increased performance outside of your immediate control.
Implement effective change processes – the transition period is still the most important thing to get right. Too long and performance drops too long, too short and the full potential for improvement is curbed; and
Develop yourself with new knowledge, skills and tools in the PICK competencies to give a greater understanding of how performance is driven by clean processes, fast innovation, effective transition and reliable knowledge.
Having provided the foundations of the PICK competencies within this feature, the next instalment of the series will include more detailed information on each individual element
In the meantime, more capability building tools can be obtained by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and quoting the reference IK001.
Dillon Dhanecha is a performance coach and change leader at the change studio. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Start small, think big – build capability team by team
Change programmes driven by the corporate vision have great value in organisations where teams are fully engaged with leaders who are able to inspire them to action-driven improvement. Change in this environment can truly be transformational as it harnesses the power of motivated individuals who are passionate about the current mission, vision and value statements.
What of those organisations where teams feel detached from the vision, either because they are geographically or hierarchically distant from where it was set? And where teams are driven to exhaustion in their day jobs through the operation of inefficienct processes which they have no empowerment to clean?
The reality is that change programmes are faced with resistance that often results from a lack of empowerment and engagement at team level. ‘What’s in it for me?’ is often construed by supporters of change as the negative standpoint of those who do not care about organisational achievement. In fact, it is exactly those views that will eventually prove the making of successful improvement programmes if they are used in the right way. Afterall, what is the point of deploying an improvement programme that cannot meet the simple need of teams at the frontline to make daily tasks easier?
Using the evaluate-educate cycle in PICK-Up empowers and engages teams in the design of improvement programmes. Since they have been involved in defining the performance gap, this enables more effective handling of the biggest causes of resistance:
Change is not required, everything is okay as it is;
The new way will only do more harm;
What do ‘they’ know? They can never understand the pressure we are under;
This place will never make things better for us;
Another directive from the top;
Well, it would have been nice to be asked; and,
Are they trying to tell us we’re not working hard enough?