Capt. Bob - A new Guru for us? Motivation

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Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
So! What lesson did you learn from Captain Bob? Do you think Captain Bob has gained enough insight to go back to Guam and change anything at any of the places he worked?

I don't. He may be a technician who knows what is needed, but it takes a truly talented change agent to help everyone adopt those changes. I don't think the dear captain is a change agent. I think he's merely an observer.

Here's an analogy:
You commute 30 miles daily through horrible traffic. After a month, it becomes blindingly obvious to you that most of the traffic you encounter is traveling in the same direction. "AHA!" You say. "We merely need to "borrow" some of the lanes from the other direction during the heaviest part of the commute." In your mind, you've "solved" the problem, so you write a letter to the editor of the local paper with your solution and it gets published. You pat yourself on the back for the brilliance of your solution.

The only problem is: everyone says, "Ho hum. Another dreamer." and they continue the terrible commute. No one follows up on the "brilliant solution."

I admire the guy who starts a campaign. Goes door to door and stands on corners collecting signatures on petitions. He enlists the help of civil engineers to draft a technically feasible plan together with cost projections versus time and productivity gains from shortening commute times (and delivery times and fuel savings and air pollution etc. etc.) He gets himself booked at meetings, on TV and radio, constantly pitching his vision until everyone is both dissatisfied with the status quo and convinced the change is not only desirable, but financially feasible. He gets a referendum passed and the project comes to fruition.

Does that sound like captain bob? Not to me.
 

Caster

An Early Cover
Trusted Information Resource
#3
Wes

Some thought provoking comments!

Interesting...poor Bob tried to change some things, but could not convince the leader.

For that I guess he deserves to be called a failure (as do I).

Sad how hard and long a change agent must work when the leader fails to lead.

My experience is the change agent gets shunted aside or fired if the course is too far off where the leader is going.

Watch the geese fly, who are they following? No matter how loud or hard the second goose honks, they all fly on after the leader.

As a change agent I willingly accept that I failed to make it happen. My fault - yes.

However, I also believe the leader has a role to play in the failure.

I have worked with several leaders now, and have achieved modest improvements with all but one. With one we changed the world, with order of magnitude improvements.

Same change agent, different leaders....very different results.

Wes - we agree on the role of a change agent. But what is the role of the leader in change? Your thoughts please.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#4
Caster said:
Wes

Some thought provoking comments!

Interesting...poor Bob tried to change some things, but could not convince the leader.

For that I guess he deserves to be called a failure (as do I).

Sad how hard and long a change agent must work when the leader fails to lead.

My experience is the change agent gets shunted aside or fired if the course is too far off where the leader is going.

Watch the geese fly, who are they following? No matter how loud or hard the second goose honks, they all fly on after the leader.

As a change agent I willingly accept that I failed to make it happen. My fault - yes.

However, I also believe the leader has a role to play in the failure.

I have worked with several leaders now, and have achieved modest improvements with all but one. With one we changed the world, with order of magnitude improvements.

Same change agent, different leaders....very different results.

Wes - we agree on the role of a change agent. But what is the role of the leader in change? Your thoughts please.
As I grew up, there were two "gods" we always referred to as leaders, George Halas, owner.coach of the Chicago Bears and Vince Lombardi, Coach of the Green Bay Packers.

"Papa" Halas owned his team lock, stock, and barrel, so it was HIS vision that got followed. Vince Lombardi, on the other hand was "just" an employee, but by force of will and clever tactics, he was able to impose HIS vision on the owners, the team, AND the fans. I was at several different charity dinners where each of the men was the featured speaker of the event.

I won't bother to quote either man, anyone can look up some of their gems. What I want to convey here is the burning PASSION each man exuded whether he spoke on the platform or mingling with the guests during the cocktail hour. In person at the time and here 40+ years later, I was electrified by these men.

So, in answer to your question, if you want to be the TRUE Agent of Change, you first have to have your own passion before you can infect subordinates, contemporaries, or superiors with that passion. Once infected, they look for ways to keep up the "thrill." A big part of the thrill is winning and succeeding at the task. Vince said, "Winning isn't everything, it is the only thing." Vince Lombardi US football coach (1913 - 1970)

I like to think I have a little touch of the same virus which inspired passion in Halas and Lombardi. I hope I can infect a few more folks.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#6
Being a successful change agent requires more than charisma for Bob.

Every horse can reserve the right to die of thirst. I have observed them do this as people, who would rather sell out of a company than change their management style. This is actually very common in family owned companies; a generational turnover can usher in profound management changes, when the younger generation is able and willing to do this.

Also, people learn to be victims. This is common in abusive relationships and cults, and yes, employers where the employees' work ethic is strong and options few. When there is no clear, attractive employment alternative and an employer creates a sense of need among his employees through decent pay and perks, they will endure oppressive management so they can provide for their families. I have observed this as well.

So, I argue that without an atmosphere that can even potentially foster change, Bob could very probably not succeeded even if he was a better change agent.
 

Cari Spears

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
#7
Jennifer Kirley said:
...without an atmosphere that can even potentially foster change, Bob could very probably not succeeded even if he was a better change agent.
I've got to spread some karma around so I can come back and give you some for this one!!
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#8
Jennifer is accurate when she implies any "captain bob" is doomed to fail at being a change agent if the "powers that be" fire him the instant he tries to open up a dialog.

However, we might still have a master/slave society in EVERY part of the world instead of isolated pockets if Jennifer's comment and similar ones by others were to keep folks from trying to effect change.

There is a trite, but true saying that the true mark of a person is not how many times he gets knocked down, but how many times he gets back up.

Sometimes, the direct approach is not effective, but we should not be lulled into thinking there is no other way. For some of you, the word "union" is a scatalogical term. However, I invite you to consider how union members banded together and faced incredible hardships so the ones who came after them would have it better than they did.

I'm not Pollyanna. I'm pragmatic. It isn't easy, it certainly isn't instant, but it [change] can be accomplished.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#9
When I did my first ISO registration about 15 years ago, two other people had "failed" before me. Because I led a successful effort, I was given more credit than I deserved. One of the best ways to find out what works is to find out what doesn't. I had a built-in advantage in not having to make the same mistakes as my predecessors. Some people in positions of authority will gleefully play their fiddles as Rome burns around them--there's nothing you can do in those situations except get the h*ll out and let them burn. But you still have to give it your best shot, and in so doing you're bound to learn something that will give you an advantage in the future.
 

Cari Spears

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
#10
Wes Bucey said:
...There is a trite, but true saying that the true mark of a person is not how many times he gets knocked down, but how many times he gets back up.

Sometimes, the direct approach is not effective, but we should not be lulled into thinking there is no other way..."
Good points, Wes. Like JSW05, I have managed to succeed where those before me have not. I've taken over another's office and rifled through the documentation of their attempts at ISO registration (just an example) and found reams of paper with the words "no one showed up for the meeting", or along those lines. You can actually feel the frustration of the writer as you browse through it all. As I've stated recently in another thread - half of the reason is my personality and my approach. I'm not any more knowledgeable or intelligent than they.

However, I've left skid marks on my way out of some places too. Sometimes you just have to know when to throw in the towel.
 
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