Change and Momentum

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Change and Momentum

Category : Blog , Flywheel

In the book, Good to Great-Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, by Jim Collins, one of the characteristics of the 11 Great companies was that they all had what Collins called the “Flywheel Effect”. The flywheel as we all know is something that gains momentum as it is put in motion and after a certain number of revolutions begins to operate on it’s own. All internal combustion engines have this. The Starter Motor moves the Flywheel on the car’s engine and the battery provides spark so the fuel can ignite and the BRRRRMMM the engine runs. As long as there’s’ fuel and the engine’s parts continue to operate correctly, it runs as if on it’s own.

In the GTG companies the idea of transformation into an organization that achieved sustained superior performance over a 10-15 year period required that same effect.

Something, someone must be the starter motor, something must be an external dynamic to keep things in motion until the organizational engine “kicks-in” and begins to take on it’s own motion, it’s own momentum. The fuel that is required is a culture that is real- a purpose that is authentic and values that are articulated well, and most importantly are TRUE, not platitudes.

But what is the starter motor? What begins the initial turn of the engine to give the fly-wheel a chance?

The answer is YOU. You, and your leadership team. You must have a leadership team who align with the purpose and values of your company and together you must make a COMMITMENT to become Great. It is commitment that is the initial force or energy behind the process of becoming great.

But if you don’t have a culture, a clear purpose, and a set of REAL values, all the commitment in the world will not work. It is the REASON your company exists, and the principles, morals, and beliefs, it’s core beliefs, that are the FUEL and the SPARK of transformation.

And, and this is very important, the purpose and values together with your and your team’s commitment, must drive every single change you make as you go forward.

The first thing you should begin with is YOUR people, beginning with your management team. Make certain they are competent, or can learn what you need them to know. People must be “able”. But more importantly, make CERTAIN that everyone you hire, aligns as closely as possible to the Purpose of your organization and your Core Values and beliefs. Commitment is futile without these two alignments. As you will remember from previous posts, the RIGHT people in every position, are the most important aspect of your company.

All that said, every change you make, every person, position, process, etc., requires the force of the Flywheel to become permanent.

If you want aligned people to behave differently, you must take them through four stages of learning and you must be committed to all four of them:

Everyone begins new learning Unconsciously Incompetent- They don’t know what they don’t know.

As you begin the process of teaching, guiding mentoring and training them they become Consciously Incompetent- The know what they don’t know.
In this stage some may need your extra care, or support as you keep the focus on the change and your efforts on their learning.

As they learn and adapt, they become Consciously Competent- They know what they know- At this stage of learning and changing they are “performing as expected” but only when they are conscious of it and only when they think of what to do, or when you are watching. This is the stage where most Leaders let down their guard and make the false assumption that the change is “done”. Not on your life!!

In order for the change or learning to become permanent, the learner must do it right enough times so that it becomes what some call “second nature”. Brushing our teeth or not wetting our pants are examples in parenting children. As parents we must take our children through enough times so that NOT brushing their teeth becomes “weird” or abnormal. This stage is called “Unconscious Competence” and it is when the FLYWHEEL kicks in.

At this stage, the change or the new way is permanent. Don’t forget that YOU and your commitment is what makes it happen. The process of accomplishing this transformation is a whole learning process for you and your management team which includes how to train and how to manage people for success. Call me to begin the process.

Jeff Pelletier, Principal
HR Department, LLC Ph 651-492-8540