I just wrote a blog response to a LinkedIn post that I read as saying the one needs time and networking and collaboration and coordination and all that in order to build relationships and to get things done over time. This was in a thread about an article about the goal of the workplace is NOT to make workers happy (written by a lawyer, so that is self-explanatory…).

Pop - pin hits balloon words borderAnyway, I will admit to being a little frustrated overall by that whole thread. And I personally know that some things take time but that going too slowly is a real problem in most organizations.

So, I pushed this out as my contribution to the thread:

Thinking a bit about Samantha’s post, I guess I “disagree” a little.

Reading the literature on organizational change and strategy implementation, it reads clearly that it generally takes 2 or more commonly 3 years to fully cascade a strategy or process from top to bottom in the large organizations. There is a lot of literature on this for the quality improvement initiatives (like ISO 9000) because they were so common a few years ago and often supported by college professors interested in publishing that kind of literature.

We see the same thing with strategy implementation today.

I often see that read as if ANY kind of teamwork or improvement initiative takes a whole big lot of time to generate any result. The simple Tuckman Model of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing implies stages of group process and development and the requirement that lots of time and understanding and collaboration and networking and personal styles inventories and decision-making style inventories and all that are a requirement for any teamwork to occur.

Sweat the bullets. Be prepared for lots of spending and time investment and demands for more and more corporate support and organizational resources is the operating belief. You must generate full organizational commitment from top to bottom in order to expect any results.

Yeah. But as a direct result of a lot of the above kinds of thinking, a lot of people will choose to try nothing or to wait for clear supportive directives from above or to delay doing anything until it is proven safe to participate. The term “Early Adapter” is certainly an accurate one for the small percentage of people who choose to actually go out and TRY things!

On the other hand, though, I can present groups of people with a difficult challenge of managing limited resources and solving problems to optimize measurable results. I can present the systems and processes and give them 15 minutes of planning time to put a whole lot of things together so that they can take planned actions to succeed in a new initiative. And they do. They do put plans together and make decisions, take actions, and operate as an effective team of 5 to 6 people.

Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing? They simply do not have time for all that stuff. They are challenged and they must work together to generate actions and implement those decisions they made.

I see it in my Lost Dutchman team building game and we have great debriefing discussions about choices and resources and how to collaborate between tabletops back in the workplace. We see people make bad choices and get the immediate feedback needed to help correct decision-making errors.

And I can see it in workplace performance improvement initiatives when a small, engaged and motivated group of people define something problematic and then take the considered actions to address and solve that problem.

Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled, and it CAN take a long time to build. But I also think that we can generate a lot more workplace improvement than we do by simply finding problems and addressing them in work teams.

Engagement sucks. The vast majority of people are NOT engaged in their workplaces. And many are somewhat actively un-engaged and may even work as saboteurs (see http://is.gd/UMnEbe which is my blog post on sabotage and statistics and ideas).

So, why not Just Do It sometimes and build trust and collaboration forward as you go forward. Too much time seems to be spent taking too much time…

I can only think of how many people could be more involved and engaged and how many more problems in the workplace might be solved through teamwork and involvement.

We offer simple tools for identifying and solving problems, creating actions and activities that can help build trust and foster continuous improvement.

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Have MORE Fun out there, too!

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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