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For over a decade, we have helped a broad array of companies seeking to improve their operational performance in an environment of global economic uncertainty, rapidly changing workforce composition, and growing public expectations for incident-free operations. At the same time, the Age of Management Systems is coming to an end and moving to an Era of Critical Thinking. The benefits of structure that management systems provided will go forward but with a focus on unlocking human potential.
Never and Never Again® arose from the growing frustration and exhaustion we have seen among frontline workers. Long lists of job expectations often conflict. Growing systems, procedures, and other controls designed to positively impact results are having the opposite effect. Never and Never Again® became a way to step back and refocus, not just on operational incidents, but on all aspects of excellence in a simple and more effective way.
Expectations for operational excellence have never been higher. Those societal expectations can be simply stated in three words: Never and Never Again®. The dazzling array of laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that continues to grow serves as a false assurance that bad things never happen and when they do—they never happen again. After decades of system-based improvement and quality initiatives, the level of apparent system failures remains too high.
Growing Complexity Must Be Addressed
As the wheels of change spin faster, it is incumbent on business leaders to focus on helping people deal with the growth in complexity. Work systems must be reinvented or internal performance audits will just continue to highlight the organization’s inability to cope. Enhanced critical thinking and situational awareness will have a much more significant impact on your success than one more regulation or procedure.
Yesterday’s business systems were designed and implemented in a different time. Today’s environment puts a greater premium on adaptability, flexibility, situational awareness, and innovation. Trying to deal with the accelerating pace of change with yesterday’s systems and processes adds its own source of complexity and frustration.
The paradox is that yesterday’s systems bring valuable order and predictability to how a business performs, but by their nature, they make adaptability and innovation more difficult. Yesterday’s systems must evolve to meet the challenge. The question is how that will happen without sliding into chaos and confusion.
Your journey begins with you. As the familiar travel expression goes, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. We will show you how to be a great simplifier and how to role model the behaviors necessary for execution excellence.
Behaviors are a Fundamental Driver of Excellence
As complexity is addressed, the need for change will also require simple and well-aligned behaviors that apply throughout the organization. Behaviors become another key component of success and they will evolve from “how you need to behave” to “how we need to behave.” This is a subtle but important distinction.
After looking at many organizations that are successful in keeping operational incidents low, we have found five key behaviors that characterize those organizations. These behaviors apply across industries, countries, and cultures. They are fundamental to effective human behavior, both on and off the job.
Set common behavior expectations for everyone in the organization. No exceptions! Keep behaviors simple and unchanging.
Live the behaviors and keep them alive. Reward the behaviors you seek and hire people that are already aligned with our behaviors.
We have demonstrated a simple process that for a client eliminated 80% of operational incidents in 18 month. We have seen the power of aligning behaviors and know how to bring that power to you.
Build a People Advantage
Most management systems in use today have their origin in response to significant industrial incidents in the 1980s. They led to a positive increase in operational risk awareness and resulted in a reduction in the number and severity of operational incidents. Systems brought improvement by setting expectations, establishing procedures and processes, and auditing to assure use and effectiveness. After twenty-five years of their application, management systems are showing their age. And despite the value they have brought, the public expectation for Never and Never Again has not been realized.
An unintended consequence of systems is that they reduce performance to a reproducible but common level. The result is that innovation, adaptability, a passion for further improvement and personal contribution is gradually extinguished. The system becomes an implicit boundary. The challenge is how to recapture the spark of human energy that is necessary to move to higher levels of excellence.
Systems are rational, engineered solutions that focus on process. They often are expressed with the phrase “a process is in place to.” Each of those processes is constructed as a linear, independent process. How they interact with a multitude of other processes is not considered. But they are not independent and the frontline is left to deal with the complexities of those interactions.
In many cases, we see this creating mental exhaustion, cynicism, and a “going through the motions” response. People become disenchanted and this results in a decrease in critical thinking, situational awareness, and job satisfaction. This exhaustion tends to be strongest at the frontline level of an organization.
People thrive in an organic or biological framework that goes well beyond the rational. Being human involves feeling, spirit, soul, emotion, spontaneity, thinking, creating, and a sense of belonging. Systems, by their design, constrain these human characteristics but these are the same characteristics that need to be encouraged for innovation, change, and situational awareness.
Bringing out the best in people, not getting the most out of people, should be the focus. Passion drives excellence. When you do what you love, you get good at it. Everyone can be awesome in his or her own unique way. Every one of your people wants to make a contribution. The challenge is that you may not know what it is and they may not know, either. The People Advantage is a comprehensive and structured way to motivate people and bring out their best contributions.
Never and Never Again® is a people-centered approach to excellence that will reduce operational incidents while stimulating innovation and growth. It is path that allows you to create best practices rather than being satisfied with following them.
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