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Are You Flying or Falling

A turtle was slowly walking though the forest when an airplane flew above the treetops. He looked up in astonishment because it was the first time he had ever noticed such a sight. Becoming fascinated with the thought of flying, the turtle developed a plan and started practicing for the day he would fly.

After weeks of preparation, the day came and he struggled to the top of the World’s Edge, the highest cliff in the forest that would surely provide an opportunity to really fly. He checked the wind, took a deep breath and began the run for the edge ready for take off. He leaped out and began to soar. To the right he flew and then he leaned to the left and began to turn. He waved at his friends below and thought how great flying was.

Then it happened. He hit the tree branches, the rocks, and then the ground with a loud thud. He felt his body rattle inside his cracked shell. He just laid there wondering what happened and what went wrong.

Sadly, this describes the fate of some businesses. People think everything is fine and that systems are in to ensure success. Leaders celebrate success, and then it happens. It does not matter what “it” is. It just happens and then sadly we ignored indisputable

The Turtle laid on the ground with his shell damaged.

signals that something went wrong and we’re not flying. We were only falling and failed to see really what was happening. It was only a matter of time. All the processes and procedures did were to give us confidence as we headed for the eventual” thud”

This generally begins as we look at others doing well, read a few books, attend a class or two and create a mass of plans. Some may have even completed assessments to supply additional support to the notion that they could fly. The company policy statement contains all the right buzz words that clearly set the stage for soaring high. Promotions have taken place that emphasized the importance of flying and our ability to make it happen. But somehow loss continues with the most troublesome issue being that no one is sure what to do. Some even start to say that some loss is OK and is just part of doing business.

People can confuse falling with flying since both give the same feeling until you hit the ground

What is often neglected is the focus on culture and the beliefs of people in the organization that can impact loss. Now if you are thinking this is everyone, you are correct. We are not talking about the culture that is documented or discussed in the manager’s meeting.

We are talking about the true culture of the organization and how the company operates, how decisions are made, how people act and what we reward. How to tell the difference and understanding how to create the needed culture is the difference between flying and crashing to the ground.

For those who think there is nothing you can do about culture and that your business is different than the other facilities, here are some actions which will assist you in creating a true culture that will allow you to fly.

1. Create a structure where the “Why” is clearly understood by all team members in terms of how it will benefit not only the company, but also the individual.

2. Ensure your implementation plan allows time for the correct culture to be developed and internalized

3. Recognize that you are creating change that requires effort and proper planning

4. Engage people in small group discussion to convey the message, obtain input, and check for complete understanding

5. Think about your conversations and meetings and ensure you are consistently reinforcing the goals by pinpointing the message and listening for responses.

6. Review the behaviors and comments of all team members to determine if the message is internalized.

7. Establish goals that add value to the organization and bottom line results

8.Ensure the appearance and order of the entire facility reflects the culture you are creating including the grounds, offices and spaces that no one claims.

9.Reinforce your expectations regarding what is an acceptable level of risk and provide tools that allow everyone to do risk assessments to ensure control.

10. Modify your system and implementation plan based on knowledge gained from observations and conversations with everyone.

11.Network with people and companies that have been successful in achieving implementation and identify best practices.

12. Ensure the process and systems are effective without needless complexity

13. Consider what signals leaders send about how they feel about the policies and directions through what they say, do, don’t do and don’t say.

14.Focus on the implementation process not just on creating the procedures and processes.

14.Monitor the activities and results to ensue the goals and vision are being achieved

15. Utilize assessments and certifications as a valuable tool to reinforce and improve the system not as a club to make things happen

Success involves not only the creation of the procedures, policies, and processes, but more importantly the proper execution and implementation of the plan. A plan must consider how to create and maintain the needed culture.

Procedures, processes, and policies are the building blocks of an effective system. Culture is the mortar that binds the processes together to form a strong system. Without all elements the system is weak and cannot provide lasting results. When they all come together, it creates a strong complete system that is effective and gives us the bottom-line results we are seeking. When this occurs we can fly.

Absolute can assist you in developing a culture that will fly. We will talk with you to clarify your direction and create the tools you need to achieve.

You can change your culture and direction, and revive your journey to success. Utilizing the expertise of Absolute can assist you as to begin to make the transition. We will be more that just a printer, we will be partner in your effort.

Jerald Wright, has more than 40 years of industrial experience and has seen systems both succeed and fail due to their design and implementation. He has designed systems that have been successful in controlling systems and contribute to success. Jerald has served as an international safety and leadership consultant for over 15 year and now is one of the owners of Absolute Design and Print. He is active in BNI as an Ambassador.


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