I had the opportunity this week to work with an amazing client group. This is a group of dedicated folks who take tremendous pride in the work they do, and want to make continual improvements to the products they make. They work hard and they pull together.
There is a deep level of expertise in the group, which each individual calls upon. For the most part, they trust the expertise that lives with key individuals. Leadership also trusts that expertise.
The question being answered was quite simple: Is this the right model to make this organization as efficient and effective as possible? Is there a better way and how do we make that happen? The question should be asked by every organization with long tenured employees.
What might change if the expertise is more broadly shared and all of the individuals knew how they impacted the entire system? What shift would occur if they knew their value to the broader process-- if they understood how what they did would impact the down stream process. How might shared knowledge about their own areas and those around them help them to more quickly recognize and solve problems, knowing that they would be helping those in the downstream processes by addressing issues now? In my opinion, people with great pride in their work and teams would embrace such ability to better understand how they work together. They were ready and we made great strides.
Often, when I approach clients with the idea of sharing the evolution of how their processes or systems came to be and the broader view of the process or system, Leadership believes there is not time to 'dwell' on the past or share stories that are not relevant. I take that as a sign that I have not yet explained the value of knowing why things are as they are, so changes made can be both powerful and mindful. We must be mindful of what went before so we do not simply make a matter worse, or remake a mistake of the past. That mindfulness provides the powerful ability to make very good decisions when systems or process changes are made, when issues are addressed, when innovative ideas are called for.
Having a shared understanding of how things evolved and where you fit in the large scheme of the process or system allows you to be more innovative in problem solving, more engaged in outcomes and have a well placed and increased sense of pride in what you do-- because you understand that you play a critical role in creating the end product and you understand how your decisions will or will not impact the entire system. You can make better, more well informed choices.
We should trust our experts when that trust is well founded. In this organization, the trust is very well founded. And, we should also share that expertise to help others increase their capabilities and competencies, their sense of value and their ability to make a positive impact in continual improvement and problem solving. We need to trust that spending time making people competent, building capabilities, pays off in the end big time. We may great strides to share knowledge in this amazing organization next week. I felt proud working with such a group of people and believe their pride will only increase as they see how they impact their processes and product.