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Zombie Operations

zombies2yp4Disengaged employees and customers slog through the day completing their related, rote tasks within the required timeframes and quality levels.  Productivity experts review metrics to make process modifications within the operation as evidently suggested by reviewing relative performance, and the process of continuous improvement makes for glacial progress and comfortable status reports.  This describes a zombie operation to me and it seems especially prevalent in challenging economic and employment times.

My friend Tony Morse wrote a poignant blog yesterday on companies failing to effectively differentiate themselves, and I think it is a related problem in that people may be more reluctant to take what is perceived as a risk when the overall health of their company and the economy is uncertain.

So how do you break the spell of a zombie operation and infuse a new sense of urgency?  It isn’t complicated, but it isn’t easy either.  These things have to be done very publicly and transparently with every one of the stakeholder zombies.

  • Engage people at the highest levels of the organization to ensure support
  • Make an honest assessment of where you are, gathering supporting data and information
  • Put together the imperative and vision on where you need to be
  • Experiment with small projects that demonstrate how you will get there (discard failures)

Today I had a sidebar Q&A on a Webinar with Jim Champy, co-author of “Reengineering” and author of the current book “Inspire.”  Jim made a point that I really liked when he responded to me that whether you can infuse the urgency to change in an organization is driven by fear and vision.

Perhaps the fear of staying the same simply has to be greater than the fear of change, and a thorough understanding of the reason for the change and the scope of the change will reduce concerns and make it an easy and urgent decision.

Bryan

bschueler@gmail.com

May 21, 2009 Posted by | Leadership | 8 Comments