Catalyst Strategic Consultants

How does your business need to grow?

The Source of it All

142Folks wonder why spend time on the soft stuff – the people side – when there are so many more direct and straightforward aspects of business to attract attention and time.

More than one President has said to me: “business would be great if it wasn’t for the people!”. They are awkward, consuming, intractable, difficult – and the chief driver of value creation in the enterprise.

So why so reluctant? We have the technology: we really do! However……

The technology is full of multiple paths. There are a million providers in the soft space – including me. None of us seem to be able to get together on one congruent path. Every one of them would sell you on a different theory. Who to believe? It’s what causes leaders to choose branded packaged solutions instead of pointed tailored solutions to these issues

Working on soft stuff is not digital. The contemporary world is addicted to binary choices. Either this or that… People don’t program well. They don’t fall into convenient categories or lend themselves to orderly processing. They are ornery, they have their own minds. They actually think they know what’s good for… themselves. Strange, as leaders we don’t have any issue with the idea that we know what’s best. It’s when others claim the same privilege.

It takes time. Whereas the binary stuff we deal with the rest of the time involves simple – do this or that, choose one or the other – in order to do good people stuff, it doesn’t move fast. You have to do it over and over and people have this stuff called RESISTANCE! – see #2 above.

We have to stop producing in order to work on soft stuff. Maybe this is the greatest of all – who wants to see everything grind to a halt while we attempt to deal with something that doesn’t always move the way we want it to?

Well, the problem is how central the soft stuff is to the welfare of our companies. I’m thinking of changing the moniker here from the “soft stuff” – which leaders find easy to deride – to the “hard stuff” because of not getting to it: they’re too addicted to the easy stuff. The digital decisions – that’s the soft stuff. Really, what I’m talking about is the “Value Stuff” – because so much value flows from good work there.

I just got an email asking me to act as facilitator for another CEO group. Of course! You wouldn’t want a bunch of bull elks to run wild on the open range and expect to get anything worthwhile done! They need a wrangler! And one with a few tricks up his sleeve.

Why does working on the Value Stuff create, well, value?

What motivates people – what makes them choose one route over another, to prefer one boss to another, to find certain work easy and other hard – is what moves them to either do what benefits the company or to be more inclined to make love to the dog.

Building and activating accelerating work processes – so many times we encounter people doing unproductive work in patterns that are repeated – at great cost – over and over. If those same people can spend a bit of offline time designing smarter ways to do things, those costs are permanently eliminated, not to mention the morale killing effect of doing dumb things again and again.

Alignment – an overused word but how many times when you get involved in trying to solve some mess do you find people working at cross purposes? It’s not that they’re trying to screw up, they are just working away in the way they individually think will contribute best to progress. Or, if they have a mild hate on for someone down the line who crossed them one time, they may be minded toward sabotage. When you have a bunch of people doing that in one stream of business, you have chaos. And it’s so simple to cure – if you just know that you need to and … know how!

Trust – trust is the measure of how much crap vs how much forward motion is created as you work. If every employee doubts the integrity, the capability, the intentions of their fellows as they go, it all slows down. If they are confused or at odds with the direction or bona fides of the company, well, that’s major. Think of it as like friction, low trust creates enormous drag – high trust is like oil. Trust happens between people – it’s not structurable [if that’s a word – MS thinks not!]. When you oil the machine, it works better – much, much better.

Persisting bad feelings – folks rub each other the wrong way: some get pretty rough. When folks disappoint each other, betray each other, hurt each other – then they carry resentment. That resentment leads to vows – vows made to frustrate the other, make them look bad, anything to get even for the damage caused. These become chronic maladjustments: come on, you know you’ve got them, they percolate up to you all the time.

So I’m puzzled. We go into the Albion Sands Project and move construction performance of the lowest performing silo in the construction of a giant mega-project from worst [out of 4, by a long way] to best [by a long way!] with a simple intervention and – we never hear from the parties again. I checked my underarms – I don’t think it was that!

I can speculate on why heads of business don’t commission Value Stuff people centric work, but plainly I don’t know why it doesn’t happen! As often as I can see incredible gains to be made, leaders don’t bite on opportunities for a small investment that will yield much greater returns than any other I can see.

Folks seem to have an infinite amount of time to fix the messes created by the chronic train wrecks that Value Stuff makes unnecessary. Why is that? Hit reply and let me know your thoughts. I’ll report them to you….

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


Past Posts