Weathering change

Post date: August 07, 2019 by Grace Bourke

It was not going as I had expected. The temperature dropped and a breeze started up, heralding a shift in the weather. Whisked away in the wind was my vision of a leisurely walk on the beach in the warmth of the sunny afternoon. Instead, there were clouds and a chance of rain. I felt unprepared, disappointed, and cheated. As I struggled with the changing weather, I realized that all these same emotions apply to change of any type. Improvement work, especially on the scale of transformation, brings change. While change can bring uncertainty, the sun is still shining above the clouds and the storm doesn’t last. If we look, we can find rays of sunshine to guide us.

During a recent kaizen improvement event, the team struggled with change. Here are the behaviors the team demonstrated that guided them successfully through change.

Courage: This team demonstrated courage in being transparent about where the current process had waste. They admitted where the process was broken. After this examination, they identified areas that needed improving. Then they demonstrated courage in identifying what could be changed. This wasn’t easy – it is challenging to face wasteful processes and envision a better future. Dreaming big takes courage. For me, courage is the practical demonstration that we have hope.

Compassion: Have you heard the phrase, “Soft on the people, hard on the process”? The team repeated this several times to remind themselves that the defects that passed through the process weren’t the previous person’s fault. People were working hard to deliver quality, but it wasn’t possible with broken processes. The team recognized that they were each experiencing the pain of waste in the process. They practiced compassion to support moving on to build a better process. The team assumed positive intent and practiced forgiveness with each other and for themselves.

Collaboration: Building better processes takes teamwork. No one person was at fault for the wasteful processes, and no single person could fix the entire process. By collaborating through open hearts and open minds, they gave a little here or took a stand there to develop a more stable process that is their next step to continuous improvement.

When people are feeling the clouds of change, my personal goal is to share a smile. I hope to provide a little sunlight. We’re going through this together, so let’s support each other. Be kind; there is always room for more kindness. Be forgiving. Assume positive intent. Be a contributor.

Good luck with the changes you’re weathering. I hope you choose to demonstrate and grow your courage, compassion, and collaboration—it’s part of lifelong learning.