A Pair Of Ruby Slippers

July 15, 2007

The Others

Filed under: MACMP — author @ 7:30 pm

kdm_header.jpgThe key to change here at Munchkin Land has got to be “The Others”. Seeing as I am marching about trying to bring about a change, I am pretty much catered for. It was my idea in the first place therefore I am happy, the thing is to get everybody else on side too. The actual change itself comes after that, well that’s what I have found anyway. Perhaps it is a bit like that thing women do when they want something – make the bloke think it was his idea, maybe that would help with the issues of ownership too. Make the leadership think it was all their idea. Unfortunately when I made a change via AI at work I ended up pretty much owning the subject being researched and then had created another issue, one of how to give it back to “The Others”.

 

Perhaps this is why we now have a “Change Management Team” (something I found out by chance) here at Munchkin Land. This team came about when we implemented a new large operating system (yes SAP) in 2001/2002. This was a global implementation and the team was at that time 60 strong. It is not really surprising that I didn’t know about them, firstly I was swanning off having babies and secondly the SAP implementation didn’t really touch me. This team is now down to 1 for Europe but a spin off team has been created to deal with other projects. There are 5 others in this team.

 

I telephone interviewed one of the change managers about his position (personal communications, 02/07/2007) and about the attitude to change here at Munchkin Land. He is clearly passionate about his role and about how our company tackles change and tells me that there is massive organisational change afoot that this team will help to manage. It was then that a crucial difference between this type of change and what I did with the AI occurred to me. We are back to the action turn. This team preps for and manages through a change but they don’t actually make the change – except in the smaller changes that support the big change if you follow me. So whilst they are part of that process the actual changes themselves (particularly the smaller local ones) still need to be actioned by the lumpenproletariat at the bottom of the heap. The Change Management Team is also not concerned with the initiation of that change – the changes that happen are not their ideas, these have either come from the workers or the bosses, although as I said above I suspect that most of their ideas have come from their teams which is fine if they then help them to fruition with the recognition going where it is deserved.

 

The Change team are rolling out information to line managers about how to manage change in the business, I am looking forward to getting my hands on this documentation to see if it supports and encourages initiatives like the one that I tried. Or if it just addresses major change sent down the organisational structure. The Change Management Team should certainly be able to help with communication and diffusion of the original ideas of the change, barriers that myself and others on the MA came up against in our projects. They also hopefully will help with feedback to the change originators – it would be good to feel we had a voice. Mr Glinda said something interesting about this today, he was told when he started here by his then line manager “if you enjoy change then you will get on OK here, if not you will be in trouble”. Mr Glinda felt that that was true of the time but in the 10 years he has been at Munchkin Land the reverse had become more the norm. Perhaps now with the new initiatives we are starting to slowly see that reversed. If you talk to the munchkins, there is a great deal of frustration with how long it can take to get any changes made here especially of the larger variety.

 

So who or what is holding us up and why? I suspect this is partly determined by our traditional relationship with the main company with whom we work very closely and their entrenched organizational behaviour. Our new Global CEO has threatened that if they don’t respond more quickly to our market place demands we will look elsewhere – could be an interesting one to watch. It seems we are between a rock and a hard place, in a liminal phase. We know we need to change as a company (for survival ultimately) but have not yet made that leap fully. The threat is welcome though, Victor Turner (1987) would point to the fact that it had been made publicly so with an audience in mind. Turner sees conflict as the start of a point to use theatrical language to gain insight. Goffman (1959) as I previously discussed, takes this one step further describing all social interaction in dramaturgical terms. Both seem to agree that change needs this type of interruption such as given by our CEO and then for us either to move through ritual (our change management team) to accomplish the change or to block it (the other company perhaps). So threatening to make a very drastic change could be the push both the companies need. It is after all, a highly interdependent relationship. In the mean time if they release another flaming flavour variant and call it innovation I will scream.

 

I have gained a bit more understanding of how complex it must be to turn a tanker the size of Munchkin land however. It was hard work just fitting my small AI project into the allotted timescales, so I surmise this is magnified with larger projects. Something to be considered up front. Then there is what changes exactly to make and do we have the skills within the organisation to be able to do that? Will that add to the timescales?

 

My experience of the AI project has overall encouraged me to keep trying to affect change. I certainly feel enabled by my current manager to do this but have no idea how his imminent departure may take effect. The issue of what to study was a difficult one, lets face it, what doesn’t need some sort of change in an organisation like ours? I do think the fact that my choice of study was team based, was a smart move as it was within my arena of control. I am always telling my son not to fret about things he has no sway over and to concentrate on the things he can influence. I think this is not a bad starting point for AI changes either. There would have been little point in me trying to change line production at our factories for instance, this is not an area I know much about nor would have any real influence over. That is not to say AI shouldn’t be stretching but if it is completely unrealistic it will be more depressing than anything else. Perhaps a point to note here would be that more complex areas of change if approached with AI could benefit from being broken down and looked at in manageable chunks. Rather like how I started with team communication as a whole but then concentrated on the meetings as the main focus of the work.

 

I do think there are areas of best practise that we unearthed that could be cascaded to other teams though. A barrier here is to get the buy in at the right level to make that happen. Frustrating yes, bureaucracy drives me nuts, but necessary to play the game successfully. There are fringe benefits to this effective brown nosing though. I would put money on the new VP remembering me over several other team members. This means that now I feel able to go and speak to him about my next venture when the time is right. I wouldn’t have been comfortable with that before the project.

We have had another meeting since the AI finished. There were a couple of items that reverted back to pre AI meetings – but several more that remained and again the meeting was again deemed a success by the team. An interesting point was that the person we invited to run a session at our meeting contacted me directly about the meeting and to arrange the session rather than the boss. I am hoping that this is because since seeing me present my AI at the last meeting she views me as having some authority there, rather than that I own the meeting. This type of impression of me could be very useful for my personal profile if and when I decide to try for a new position in CCE.

 

 

Goffman, E. 1959 The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Penguin

Turner, V.1987 The Anthropology of Performance. Baltimore: Paj Publications

 

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