Sunday, January 3, 2016

Gung Ho! - Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

The book is about how to motivate people in any organisation. I like Ken Blanchard's take on people and what motivates them. The book could not have come at a better time since I have a similar challenge like the one the book deals with on my hands. In fact my friend Yogesh Patgaonkar suggested I read this book before I engage with my client.

As always Blanchard tells it through a story - this time a real life one. How Peggy Sinclair of Walton No 2 changes things around in a unit that is almost about to shut down. However she finds that one division, the finishing division, is doing great with highly motivated people who are planning to turn out their best performance ever on the last day, if ever. The leader of that division is Andy, a native American. Andy shares his wisdom with Peggy.

He says in most organisations the spirit dies at the door (aren't we all familiar with that - mine died many times!). Companies treat raw material better than people. To beat that dying spirits syndrome Andy follows his grandpa's wisdom. The methods to motivate people can be observed in the Spirit of the Squirrel, Way of the Beaver and Gift of the Goose.

Spirit of the squirrel - Why do they work so hard?
It is about the why. Why do they work so hard and so much?
Squirrels are highly motivated - because they want to put away food, else they die. They are motivated because they know they are doing worthwhile work (they know the impact of doing or not doing work). Work that affects them and their survival. But to do worthwhile work, Blanchard and Bowles say, one has to make sure that 1) work has to be understood as important 2) it should be a well understood and shared goal 3) values should guide all plans, decisions and actions

The way to look at an organisation's purpose is - what are we doing to contribute to the well-being of mankind? Look for human impact at the end of the line (conversely, I think, we could also look a scenario of what if we take what we are doing out of the picture?). Look at an attitude of units produced versus great work done. The key is to make everyone understand what they are doing in the big picture. They must be proud of both the goal and how they can get there. The team must commit to goals. The top 2-3 critical ones must be set by the top management.

Goals must be result goals and value goals. Value goals are about impact. Values are important because they sustain the effort. Values are the boss. They guide behavior. Values guide plans, actions and decisions. Values have to hold up in tough times. Values are now, Goals are for later.

Worthwhile work makes the world a better place. Everyone works towards a shared goal.

Values could be - Trust. Support. Telling the truth. Honesty. Team is most important. Customers. No holding information.

Way of the beaver - Ownership
In this each beaver decides to be in control. You are your own boss. You achieve the goal because you want to. By doing that you meet - Individual needs. Social needs.

In this part, it is about the individual taking control because he understands that it benefits him and the larger picture if he decides to take ownership and make things happen at 10x. The biggest block in such cases is the organisation. Organisations must allow them to take ownership and help and support them to achieve the 10 x goals. Organisations need to value them as persons

The idea is to Stretch People. To do that, give them work that demands their best and allows them to learn and move ahead into uncharted territory. However, we are talking about work that's possible not beyond the stretch.

In the way of the beaver, you stay in control of achieving the goal. You have a playing field with clearly marked territories. Thoughts, feelings, needs and decisions are respected, listened to and acted upon. You are able, but challenged. As the Dept Head - decide what and how to do it.

This sums up the way of the beaver or a person who has taken up ownership - TRUE - Timely, Responsive, Unconditional, Enthusiastic.

There is Pride in the work. There is a common enemy perhaps. All change is about dropping old habits, but also adopting new ones.

In this - information sharing is important. Feedback must be constant and positive.

Gift of the goose - Cheering each other on
The gift of the goose is to cheer each other on. Nothing like this to keep the spirit of the team high. Build the team on the basis of the following:

Telling the truth
Building self-esteem
Rewarding people who didn't yank the lever
Rewarding those who shared information
Setting, stretching, goals
Living our values
Training, training, training
Cheering, cheering

Blanchard stresses on the importance of training and of cheering. One requires - Patience. Action. Now.

The Gung Ho tale is one of patience and persistence. It is of belief in people and their capability to change. The change agents could be a connection to the higher picture, knowing their part in it, owning it because they feel they can own and do great work and finally believing that the team benefits if every one gives feedback and cheers each other on. It does look like a workable route and certainly one that could be tried.

Whatever happens, human behavior remains pretty much the same. Thanks Yogesh and Ken and Sheldon. Now, who's ready to change the culture of the team?

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