The 5 levels of change

We face opportunities and challenges everyday. Taking advantage of the opportunities or managing the challenges involves change and maybe moving workers out of their comfort zone. Each challenge or opportunity requires different management and change level. The following is a spectrum of change levels that will cover almost every challenge faced in business.

Level 1: Improve efficiency

2014-12-19 20.51.12Improve efficiency by determining if workers are putting the right effort at the right place. Take a look at the current work practices and if the workers are doing what they are suppose to do.
Worker competence and willingness to work are two major factors at this level. Superstars in box 1 are those who are competent and willing to work. They are go-getters who you only need to describe the job for them and they will execute it flawlessly. Workers in box 2 are good workers who are willing to work, but not competent enough to execute a faultless job. Training and development are the solution to increase the workers’ efficiency in this box. Competent and experienced workers in box 3 are unwilling to do their jobs for different reasons. Motivation may help improve the efficiency in box 3 but the workers are choosing not to work for different reasons. Workers in box three knows the rules and regulations, knows the lube holes, shortcuts and exceptions. Troublemakers are usually found in this box and the leader or manager should be careful with them. Workers in box 4 are either new workers or older workers who’ve been moved to a new job without proper training. Their unwillingness to work may be affected by their incompetence or the neglect they feel after they have been assigned to their new role. The leader should either replace workers in the box or train and motivate them to do their jobs.

Level 2: High performance.

Importance vs UrgencyExecuting the right business process. Focus on the important and not urgent part of the business before they become important and urgent. Important and urgent businesses are usually executed in a firefighting mood which lead to mistakes or substandard jobs. Organize work by using the right procedures and setting priorities with key performance indicators and milestones. Pareto Principle states that 80 percent of all the things being done are executed by 20 percent of the right effort by the right people. Assign the right workers with the right resources to high yielding part of the business.

Level 3: Improve, eliminate and copy.

Cut or improve some of the steps from the best process recognized for the business. In level 2 we selected to automate processes to conduct the organizational business, but we need to improve or trim some of the redundant steps that take up time and recourses with little or no positive effect. Redesign the business process by eliminating the unnecessary steps, improve vital steps and imbed best practices in the process. Revisit the business process with fresh and unbiased eyes. Some of the steps in the process were put to inflate somebody’s ego. Other steps were useful for many years, but became absolute now. Some activities and regulations are practiced in the organization for no apparent reason. When asked, the workers will say “we always do it this way, but we are not sure why!” Simple questions can reveal a lot of wrong practice. The same simple questions can be directed to top management and floor workers.

2014-12-17 08.53.29Organization’s do not work soon. Competitors with similar products are produced by similar processes or even better. The organization should explore how others are executing their businesses and find ways and means to adapt them in the organization. Change will always have resistance from workers living in their comfort zone. Not Invented Here (NIH) is one of the hurdles that workers used to stop or even sabotage processes or practices they did not develop internally in the organization. Workers ego and selfishness will find faults and difficulties in the new best practices they did not develop. Resistance can be handled by explaining or demonstrating the benefits of the new best practice and how it may help the workers in their daily work.

Level 4: Think out of the box.

Brainstorm new idea nobody thought could be possible or feasible. The new ideas may have a slim chance to succeed, but experimenting with these ideas after careful thought may yield great results. The new ideas may lead to other possibilities worth further exploring. Integration between different tools or technologies can result in different possibilities and products. New ideas are always welcome, but implementing them will face Great resistance. Change management is a major factor in getting the new ideas go through the comfort zone.

Level 5: Breakthrough.

Complete shift in the thinking paradigm. In this level the business owner was exploring new territories that never been explored before. The breakthrough might be in changing the future direction by more than 90 degrees. Intel dropped the memory chip business and pursued the processor business. Steve Job reduced the Apple products from 12 to only fore after his legendary return to Apple.


Let Them Feel Proud

We like to hold down to our ideas and tell everybody that we are right when they are wrong. But we can let others be right, even if it is not true just to make them happy and we have a piece of mind.

heart_made_of_words_16158 (1)When I was ten years old I use to trim my hair ate the nearby barber. But when I go to another barber to cut my hair he would ask me the usual question “Who cut your hair last time?” I would name the barber shop and he would quickly point out how badly that barber cut my hair and missed a spot without cutting. I usually smile or at lease agree with him just simply because he holds my head at that moment with scissors moving fast!! Sometimes the barber asks the same question while, but I answer immediately, “It was you cut my hair last time, but why?” The barber will be silent until he finish cutting my hair. I might feel smart with my answer, but the barber usually punishes me by not spraying me with his usual cheap cologne.

I am in Singapore now and I have to take a different taxi every morning from the hotel to National University of Singapore (NUS). I have a map to show the taxi driver to take me to the right building in NUS campus. Every taxi driver would look at the map and then take me through a different route to the same building and when we arrive there he will say something like “if I followed your map we would be late and …”. The directions on the map were prepared by the NUS staff and I am sure that they selected the best route to the building. I could argue with the taxi driver that he was wrong and yesterday’s driver said the same but I usually agree with driver and just pay the money and wish him a good day.

Arguing with the barber, taxi driver, or co-workers over obvious things may make you feel better but will consume your time without gaining any value over the argument. You might be right and they are wrong, you might have the supporting evidence, but agreeing with them will make them feel proud. Always agreeing with the others when no risk is involved, you will get what you want and they will feel proud.

Locus of Control

Locus of control is an indicator of the individual’s sense of control over their successes and failures (Navahandi, 2006). Individuals’ beliefs that events they are experiences are due to luck, fate, or their own behavior (Scott et al., 2010). Individuals with strong internal locus of control believe that their success and failures are caused their actions. Individuals’ with strong external locus of control believe that what is happening to them is the result of chance, luck, or fate (Navahandi, 2006; Scott et al., 2010). Navahandi (2006) stated that leaders with strong internal locus of control are more likely to lead their teams better than leaders with internal locus of control. Managers and leaders with external locus of control believe that external threats are unmanageable, but the ones with internal locus of control believe they can cope with stress and handle their future (Scott et al., 2010).


Navahandi, A. (2006). The art and science of leadership (4 ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.

Scott, S. L., Carper, T. M., Middleton, M., White, R., Renk, K., & Grills-Taquechel, A. (2010). Relationships among locus of control, coping behaviors, and levels of worry following exposure to hurricanes. Journal of Loss & Trauma, 15(2), 123-137. doi: 10.1080/15325020902925985

Wood, A. M., Saylor, C., & Cohen, J. (2009). Locus of control and academic success among ethnically diverse baccalaureate nursing students. Nursing Education Perspectives, 30(5), 290-294.

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Acronyms are everywhere these days and they can mean different things to different people. In the business lingo, CSF means Critical Success Factor. These factors are what will make or break the organization. The organization should focus on a limited number of CSFs, typically between 3-8, that affect the services efficiency, or product quality. The success in the CSF will differentiate the organization from it’s competitors. For a hairstylist, the the design and beauty of it’s styles would be it’s CSF. For a baker, the freshness and taste of the it’s backed products will be a CSF. Successful surgeries with few (or no) complications is a good CSF for a medical surgeon. The CSF needs a Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to measure them. The old saying “What gets measured, gets done!” is so true in this situations. The critical success factors have key performance indicators which the organization should carefully monitor. The key Indicators should be measurable but not all of them can be measured easily. Customer satisfaction is a good KPI but very difficult to measure. However, number of units produces can be calculated easily.

Technical Position Training

Technical employees need intensive technical training but also need managerial and leadership training to advance in their jobs. Some organizations start the administrative and managerial training too late which make the technical employees struggle in approving and implementing their ideas.

Technical Position Training Model

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Organizational Climate

Organization climate is defined by Shapira-Lishchinsky and Rosenblatt (2009) as “shared perceptions that help employees to comprehend work processes and their organizational surroundings” (p. 720). The organizational climate affects the workers behavior positively and negatively. The workers behavior will be positive when the organization focus on morality and ethics (Shapira-Lishchinsky & Rosenblatt, 2009). Organizational climate is better defined by Hunter, Bedell, and Mumford (2007) as people’s “perceptions of, or beliefs about, environmental attributes shaping expectations about outcomes, contingencies, requirements, and interactions in the work environment.” (p. 70). Organizational climate is different from the organizational culture by being a localized experienced affecting on the individual or group in the organization. The organizational climate is changed esear than the culture because the climate is influenced by peer group and supervisory relations, the level of organization autonomy, management support, reward orientation, and mission clarity (Hunter, Bedell, & Mumford, 2007).
The transformational style is best set for the organization during the climate change process. But the transactional leadership style is needed to force the climate change because some groups in the organization require authoritarian style to force the change. Charismatic leaders are needed to use their charisma to support the climate changes offort. Charismatic leaders are required for their quick influences to score quick wins, but they will not be effective if hired from outside the organization.

Shapira-Lishchinsky, O., & Rosenblatt, Z. (2009). Perceptions of organizational ethics as predictors of work absence: A test of alternative absence measures (Vol. 88, pp. 717-734): Springer Science & Business Media B.V.
Hunter, S. T., Bedell, K. E., & Mumford, M. D. (2007). Climate for Creativity: A Quantitative Review. Creativity Research Journal, 19(1), 69-90. doi:10.1080/10400410701277597

What Is Right For The Business?

Many employees work very hard to perform their  daily tasks, but they make mistakes and got blamed for it. The first reaction from their superiors is to look for the obvious mistakes and shortfalls in following the plans, procedure or regulations. Catching the obvious mistake is easy but will only solve the problem momentarily. Eliminating the cause of the problem is very difficult. Sometimes, the organization needs to change the procedures, review their assumptions or even ask themselves if they need the workers to perform that task at all. The following discussion and examples will show how mistakes and errors can take place and how we can we eliminate these mistakes immediately and permanently. Long term solutions needs time, effort and big budget, but eliminating a reoccurring problem will worth the cost, effort and time spent. Read More …

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Rewards

Managers at work and parents at home are searching for the best reward to give. Rewards are two types, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic reward is a feeling of accomplishment after achieving a challenging task. The intrinsic reword do not need another person’s comments or encouragement, it is, rather a self-fulfillment feeling the worker sense after completing his or her tasks (Schermerhorn et al., 2008). Intrinsically motivated workers perform their tasks with impulsive experience of interest, excitement and satisfaction (Selart, Nordström, Kuvaas, & Takemura, 2008). Extrinsic rewards can be intangible like a public praise or being the employee-of the-month, but extrinsic rewards can be tangible similar to cash payment or benefits (Schermerhorn et al., 2008; Selart et al., 2008). The basic extrinsic needs are receiving external rewards or avoiding punishment (Fullagar & Mills, 2008).


Fullagar, C. J., & Mills, M. J. (2008). Motivation and flow: Toward an understanding of the dynamics of the relation in architecture students. Journal of Psychology, 142(5), 533-556.

Selart, M., Nordström, T., Kuvaas, B., & Takemura, K. (2008). Effects of reward on self-regulation, intrinsic motivation and creativity. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 52(5), 439-458. doi: 10.1080/00313830802346314

Schermerhorn, J. R., Hunt, J. G., & Osborn, R. N. (2008). Organizational Behavior (10 ed.). NY: John Wiley & Sons.

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Meetings: Sneaker Time?

Listen to this postMost of us have been in a meeting which ended without solving the discussed issues. The meeting participants leave the meeting to meet again in the nearby walkway to discuss the unfinished subject from the meeting. Sometimes they continue the discussion over the phone to complain how unproductive the meeting was. They use the phone to conclude some of the issues discussed in the meeting.
Sneaker time is the time spent by the meeting participants after the meeting discussing the open issues. Sneaker time discussion takes more time and waste many resources. The discussion after the meeting is usually between 2-3 meeting participants, the rest of the participants are not aware of the followup discussion and there is a good chance that they will not even know the outcome of the follow-up discussion.
Meeting discussion is usually documented and circulated for information and action. Sneaker time discussion is rarely documented and almost never circulated. The actions items from the sneaker time discussion can be dangerous because only few people know about them and approve them. These action may contradict with other action items generated by another group in side discussions similar to the sneaker time.
Well managed meetings should discuss and analyze the meeting agenda’s times to reach solutions and action plan that prevent the need for further discussion. The meeting chairperson should manage the meeting while thinking of the possibility of sneaker time after the meeting. The target should be to reduce the sneaker time to meeting time ratio. The meeting participants should leave the meeting without the need for further discussion on the meeting action items.

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Meetings: Why Do We Need An Agenda?

You may ask “why do we need an agenda? We all know what we are going to discuss.” Preparing the agenda takes time and in some meetings people do not even look at it. The agenda is a contract between the meeting participants during the meeting. They are committed to the time allocated for each discussion item and they agree on what to (or not to) discuss. Some people are professional in hijacking the meeting. They will steer the discussion to a subject not in the agenda and consume the meeting time to discuss their personal agenda. Most of the time they will start with a shocking or outrages comment that grab everybody’s attention then direct a question to one of the participants (or the meeting chairperson) to answer. When they finish the discussion on that subject the will say “A similar situation or maybe worse is about ….” and the discussion will continue to serve their personal agenda. They would consume most of the meeting’s time before anybody could notice it. The best solution for such people is to say “I am sure this is an important subject that you are bringing to the meeting, but it is not listed in the agenda. We will schedule it at the end of the meeting or you may ask for a separate meeting to give it the time it deserves.”

One of the first signs of a good meeting is a well written agenda. The agenda should have the title of the meeting (the subject) and the start and end time. The exact location for the meeting should be clearly stated. You will need a map with clear directions (like Google maps) if some of the meeting participants are new to the meeting location. The agenda should have a list of the discussion items written in simple and clear language. Please avoid the trade lingo, slang, abbreviations or general statements like “Discuss the situation in XYZ” you may know what is the situation and what is XYZ but other participants may not know or could misunderstood both of them. Estimate how long each item in the list will take and record it next to it. The participants will know how much time is available for that item and be ready to finish their discussion within the available time. They can call and ask for extra time before the affirming the agenda or at least before the meeting could start. Always add 5-10 minutes at the end of the agenda for new items but please do not allow for more than that. If the new item needs more time then schedule a new meeting for that new item.

The meeting participants can read the agenda and prepare themselves for the discussion by researching the subject and preparing important documents (tables, drawings or maps) to support their argument. without the agenda some participants would answer “I did not know that you are going to discus XYZ subject, I am to ready to discuss it, I will come back tot you on …”

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