Culture of Change

MM: That’s completely fair. Lastly, I’d like to address the culture of change.

BK: Yes. That’s been the big frustration as a technology salesperson for 20-plus years. Technology should stay ahead of actual implementation, or I wouldn’t have anything to sell tomorrow. But being on the bleeding edge in most cases with these technologies, it’s been frustrating to find that getting folks to embrace change—not necessarily just technology—they expect, “I’m going to buy your stuff and I’m going to get all this great insight, and therefore, things are going to change.” Well, they’re never going to see improvements if the organization isn’t structured such that we’re going to take that information and make use of it.

MM: This gets to a real focus of ours around what I call, “Innovation Leadership.”

I’ve found that many product companies—whether Apple or HP or Bose or Ford… Many product companies have well documented, structured, and repeatable innovation processes for product innovation.

But when it comes to process innovation and service innovation, I’m finding that most companies are completely out to sea. Almost completely bereft of any structured or repeatable processes for innovating new processes.

As it relates to new technology, most senior-level executives—specifically those who are signing checks or releasing funds—tend to see their organization in terms of operational capabilities. They consist of systems, processes and accountabilities. I’d define an account-ability as an agreement by and between an employer and an employee. The account-ability is not just a role and responsibility but also explicit daily reporting requirements by which an employee reports on a daily and weekly basis some number of facts that—when rolled up—indicate an aggregate process toward strategic planning. Or progress toward objectives of the strategic plan.

But Bob, I’ve found that most companies have very fuzzy, indistinct if not conflicting accountabilities for people in their groups that work for them. As a function of not really having an explicit by and between an employer and an employee with a focus on not just, “Here’s what you do,” but, “Here are the five business facts that you agree to provide on a daily basis,” that will then roll up into some overall organizational performance scorecard.

As a function of indistinct, incomplete non-existent or conflicting account-abilities, it’s very difficult to introduce any proposed change into that organization. As soon as you say, “Well, let’s do this,” all of a sudden, you get a whole bunch of people in the room starting to turn funny colors and looking down at their shoes and saying, “But you don’t understand!”

Right?

BK: Absolutely.

Posted in: