Improvement = New Habits

Recently, we had a potential client ask us a very pointed question…”What will I see in my organization on day one after my staff sits through one of your Intelligent Disobedience workshops?”

It is a great question…yet I hope our answer was even better, and reflected our embracing of Intelligent Disobedience by saying something different from what is expected (yet conveys the truth). What was our answer? Nothing, you won’t see a difference at all on day 1 after a workshop.

Training workshops, ours or others, dealing with an “edgy topic” such as Intelligent Disobedience or a basic Project Management techniques course provide significant POTENTIAL for improvement on day 1. What causes improvements in an organization is the development of new habits – new habits that are coached and reinforced over several months in order for them to become commonplace. Those new habits should then be reinforced by a change or adjustment to performance measurement systems so the new habits and techniques being proposed are embraced, and their value realized. Only then is improvement going to appear.

Convenient Fears?

In our Intelligent Disobedience workshops we encounter many people who are looking for new and improved techniques for influencing others, communicating critical needs and dealing with emotionally charged issues. For most, the techniques we present do not disappoint. Others, however, will come to our workshops looking for a risk-free approach or guarantees that they will get results that they feel are positive. In many of those cases, our attendees are holding onto inflated, extreme expectations of what “bad will happen” should they try something out of the ordinary, or challenge a person in a leadership role with a new idea. These fears – such as being fired on the spot – are in the vast majority of instances exaggerated visions of consequences that have a very low probability of occurring. Yet, they serve a purpose for the person who is hesitant to “stick their neck out” and try something new…these fears conveniently allow them to be safe, “not make waves” and as a result – underperform at work (and potentially in their personal relationships as well).

We aren’t targeting this blog entry to those that hold these “convenient fears”; this is an appeal to those who read this blog that are leaders. How many good ideas are you missing because of hesitant followers? What aspect of your processes and procedures could be improved if your staff members spoke up about changing long held and treasured business practices?

A potentially huge opportunity awaits here– if you can set the right example, respond favorably to criticism and new ideas, and reduce the fear by embracing new approaches.