Saturday, 18 May 2013

“Unless to thought is added will, Apollo is an imbecile.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

When a Japanese businessman was asked why he was happy to talk freely about his company’s quality management system, I took a note of his reply,

“By the time the competition figures it out, we will have moved our commercial advantage on.  You see, many western companies see planning as an isolated activity and only share with those impacted when they communicate the action plan.  They lose the opportunity to gain fresh perspective and buy-in.   This results in misunderstanding, discord and rejection.  They are, of course, then very good at hero management; correcting a problem they are the architects of.  This saps a team’s energy and confidence.  

Our planning culture is inclusive.  We gather input from everyone.  We deal with beliefs, assumptions, concerns and aspirations early on.  Acceptance is gained before action starts, leading to greater role clarity and a shared desire to achieve objectives. 

In your cultures you leap to action without including others in your planning activity.  The planner assumes, wrongly, that everyone will implement tasks the same way, whereas each individual’s experience determines how they interpret information and choose to behave.  To align thinking and action, you need to achieve buy-in while you plan, not just when you implement.

It will take Western companies too long to learn this lesson and adopt inclusive communication throughout their planning process.”

Over the intervening years I have seen this prophecy cause many to stumble.   This is why we introduce “Future Conference” as an energising event to quickly gain buy-in from board members, management, staff, customers and suppliers.  It saves time and money by avoiding costly mistakes.  Apollo would be glad to know that this also heals.