RobertoLofaro.com - Knowledge Portal - human-generated content
Change, with and without technology
for updates on publications, follow @robertolofaro on Instagram or @changerulebook on Twitter, you can also support on Patreon or subscribe on YouTube


You are here: Home > Rethinking Organizations > #social #Kaizen and #coalition #building in #business40

Viewed 5616 times | words: 2620
Published on 2018-06-30 | Updated on 2019-04-03 19:21:44 | words: 2620

#social #Kaizen and #coalition #building in #business40

My focus is identifying, defining, implementing change.

A side-effect of online systems is that many can feel that they are "informed" by simply browsing the titles of what others share.

No, this is not yet another post about "fake news"- on that, my concept is that we had fake news before, and I still remember as a kid how what I saw on the streets in Southern Italy had often nothing to do with what was reported by mainstream media, State TV included.

So, fake news require using your brain, not just inventing new gizmos that embed the biased perspective and preferences of their inventors and build on that to deliver you yet another filter on reality.

We need to expand critical skills, not to build more social Prozac to avoid people having to make informed choices.

As for those that still will prefer not to make choices: well, online or offline, what is the matter? Many in the past made their choices in Italy based upon what they heard at the morning coffee in their neighborhood, with a level of credibility and possibility to do a cross-checking even lower than today.

Yes, also in Ancient Rome it was customary to have others undermine the credibility of your opponents...

Nowadays, everybody wants "change" and assumes that our current social model has to evolve- but nobody wants to do it in a sustainable way, i.e. long-term.

From those "no logo" times that actually generated more than one new brand trending for a while and launched yet another bunch of gurus into a talking career.

To countless other "change gurus" created before and after that, gurus that often had as much relationship with change and leadership as anybody reading a lot and then summarizing what (s)he read- no experience, no depth, but plenty of influence based on a "Cliff Notes" appraoch to reality.

Certainly a good business, but that left many companies adopt business practices that had been either misinterpreted, or extracted from a completely different socio-economical context and assuming a different social structure.

E.g. derived from a world where buying more slaves was the way "scalability" in business was delivered, and "motivation" meant that a slave could be eventually freed if he extracted as much value as possible from other slaves, whatever the side-effects.

Not really a business model that anybody sane would adopt in our societies, so why we keep focusing on cherry-picking business habits built upon that?

Talking about change is easier than actually getting your hands dirty to implement it.

Friends and foes alike will disagree with me, but frankly one of the first steps in eventually implementing change is deciding where to start.

The more complex the set of relationships within the "community" (social, political, business, etc.) you want to change, the more critical is selecting were to start, as you cannot necessarily "unbundle" that maze, and sometimes a Gordian knot approach might be needed, with all the consequences.

Assuming that you did your homework on all the usual- from assessment of where you really are to definition to where you want to be (the latter usually changes as you progress and have to cope with reality).

So, I routinely disagree in Italy when change is started not where it is more probable to succeed, but where it targets your political opponents or, anyway, will find less organized resistance.

Each change initiative is different, but all have one point in common: you need to understand where you start from.

In some cases, those with the appropriate knowledge will be willing to foster change.

In most cases, even more often in Italy, the knowledge is actually not "free to go", but embedded in the existing maze of relationships and structures (including future development paths).

Therefore, any change is caught in a catch-22: those who have what is needed to make it succeed are the same who feel that they will lose their existing power relationships by providing the information needed.

I will give you a practical example.

In the EU, eventually all the invoicing will be electronic; following an approach close to the one adopted long ago in Brazil, and similar to something I and I think others discussed years ago in various articles about removing the need for accounting books for companies doing everything electronically while minimizing the risk of fraud, Italy set a series of milestones.

The first one was to have gas stations to deliver electronic invoices to anybody with a VAT registration- by... July 2nd.

View from the left: there is so much traffic on that side, that this will remove also massive tax evasion; moreover, it is an extension to what is already done for suppliers of State and local authorities, so no big deal.

View from the right: it is yet another layer of complexity added for small businesses, and during tests the system did not work as expected, rules are still as usual a work-in-progress, and the way they assume that gas stations are managed is decades old.

My view from an organizational development standpoint: how many of the target community that will need to start deliver electronic invoices and use the State online system and its table tennis approach to workflow have already (technical and human) capabilities to do so? Why starting from those less equipped and using them as "beta testers"?

View from one of the largest players in the market, announced few days before the due date? They saw a business opportunity, and developed an app, so that if you buy fuel with them, it is a central system managing all the process, not really the local, individual gas station in their network- an opportunity to conquer a larger chunk of the market.

Now, we are in Italy, and nothing is cast in stone.

While the "due date for compliance" of May 25th for GDPR was due a EU regulation (no procrastination possible), for gas stations there was a last minute procrastination to December 31st.

Which means: while the choice from the large industry player, probably prepared long ago, was to convert compliance into a chance to conquer a large chunk of the market, the six months procrastination gave a six month window of opportunity to even the smallest competitor, or even to independent gas stations or a startup already active within the e-payment business, to add an additional service, levelling the playing field.

Actually, more than this: all the "evangelization costs" have been sustained by that large player, but all the others will benefit from it.

This was typical in the past in most innovations in software- the first one on the market was making the potential or new target market "aware" of the options available, while all the others could be followers and leverage on that investment, often sweeping away the first innovator from the market, if their business was mono-product or mono-service (of course, it is not the case here).

Using this real example as a backdrop, let's now return to change per se, and what all this imply.

If you do not have an "organic systemic approach" within a society (i.e. if you are not used to have all the internal and external stakeholders involved in change, no matter what "tribes" they belong to), the risk is that there will be always a maze of overlapping, competing partial initiatives spreading resources too thin to have any initiative build a critical mass- creating confusion where the intent was to create convergence and transparency.

And this is why "cuts" in Italy are usually draconian "linear cuts" (e.g. 10% or 20% of everything): the existing maze of mutual obligations makes it impossible to actually pinpoint specific areas of improvement and blend them into a potential better solution.

As I wrote in Italian this morning, re-launching and summarizing an earlier post in English:
#social #kaizen

Yes, I write while walking- it is an evolution of the thousands years old practice to develop ideas while walking, usually around a "theatre of the memory", i.e. a walking patterns where, in the end, your brain can "store" ideas visually (a method de facto used in Ancient Greece by philosophers and in relatively more recent times by monks in their daily routine).

In a decade or so, I do expect to be able to dispose of writing- by then, if I will think something, I should be able to share it.

As we have already experiments on converting brain activity into something meaningful since decades- e.g. I remember a 1970s picture on a Newsweek or Time magazine showing one of the first computer games played by using brainwaves to guide an object on the screen.

And now, there are already some more serious applications supposedly closer to market-readiness.

Obviously, as in Arthur Clarke's books in the latest phases of his life, when he was often writing on "what if" ranging e.g. from making privacy to making firearms meaningless, this would imply having to redesign our social rules and habits, unless we want to become a "Borg collective" (as in Star Trek- one mind, etc- scary).

Many complain about fake news online, but I do complain about something else- too many gurus with zilch experience (and often also knowledge) of what they are "guru-ing" about.

Which then, in turn, spawns and seeds laws and regulations based on "influencers".

Changes in laws and regulations often delve into minutiae to push an agenda through operational changes, but based on a biased understanding of reality and operational capabilities to implement that change.

Why is this counterintuitive approach so often adopted?
Because... it is the pattern of least resistance.

Redesigning an overall framework would attract attention and build "coalitions of the unwilling" thanks to the visibility given to the objectives and hence impacts on the existing distribution of power.

Of course, unless you also foster a "systemic approach"- and can prove that there will be an aggregate gain (and define how to offset, where appropriate, pockets of local losses- a matter of negotiations and balance of power).

There are many schemes out there to try to build a "knowledge trust" or even a "trust into knowledge" network, but frankly the only one that doesn't state to be such a network and instead is closer to the target is... the humble wikipedia.

I will not dig here into the "consensus convergence on knowledge" within Wikipedia- you can read their updates and amendments policies online.

What matters is to leverage on that for something more proactive than mere "statements of facts and history".

Probably some of the now less than 10 years old technologies will eventually deliver something similar to what the Chinese Government has designed to "score citizens" vs. a desidered/suggested behavioral profile, but based on a distributed and therefore moving model, a "swarm consensus on social acceptability".

Somebody finds that scary- I find just an evolution of our concept of "ethical" and "socially acceptable".

And an online version of what, in reality, has always been part of the "village" mindset.

I already expressed in the past my criticism about some not-so-positive side-effects of that mindset, moreover when coupled with a "tribe-based competition" as common in Italy (which is the concept summarized in Italian on Facebook in the picture above).

The point is quite simple: it is not negative "per se", but it is contextually negative.

This, if you are trying to evolve a society toward a 4.0 model, a society where in reality more than assets, you have platforms where you build case-by-case "coalitions of the knowing&willing" and therefore "generate" assets.

And this is already having impacts on how, what, where, when products and services are developed and delivered.

Another practical example that I was sharing yesterday evening during my monthly dinner.

In Italy, we had I think more than a decade ago (I was abroad) a wave of "privatizations and liberalizations" that were anything but, as basically either created private monopolies/oligopolies out of a captive market, or created externalized companies belonging to public authorities, but with a couple of interesting side-effects, along with others.

The two I am interested on here are
1. An increase in fees billed to citizens (as expected).
2. A gradually increasing number of tasks within operational processes transferred to citizens as part of a regulatory redesign.

What happened with trash collection in towns is, in the end, similar to what some companies selling electronics or other products did as an evolution.

The more "intelligent" is your product, the higher the chance that somebody will have ideas about how to "hack" it to alter performances etc.

Some companies are still fighting it, either for IPR protection, brand protection, or to avoid liabilities.

But, eventually, each and every company will have to do two things: build an ecosystem around it, to sell products, services, further service/product elements (including developed by customers); and build a powerful "marketplace health reassurance system", that could be nicknamed "keeping the trust or seeing the business fade away".

It will be a more complex balance between demand and supply, and will require a different way to manage not just product/service lifecycles, but also the integration of your customers within your own supply chain as a competitive advantage.

Obviously, there will be a competitive advantage for larger entities in many cases.

I, citizen, might be able to suggest a process or product improvement that either makes my life easier (and more loyal), or adds value (e.g. by reducing costs or creating a new revenue stream at next to zero additional costs).

But before that is packaged and deployed to others, only my supplier will have the capabilities to see how add in a sustainable way that change to the ecosystem.

The alternative? A free-for-all that could make it all crash as soon as the first malevolent or just plainly half-baked change is introduced.

So, back to the title of the Italian summary on Facebook: #social #kaizen will imply a redesign of relationships and adopting an approach based in changing behavioral models adopted within the interaction.

Yes, it is part also of the "gamification": I do interact with the ecosystem because it represents value or gratification for myself (which could range really from obtaining recognition from my peers, just seeing that others are using what I proposed, receving benefits, etc.).

I posted in 2009 a series of articles whose title was GMN2009- might eventually reprint with updates into yet another mini-book, albeit probably a little bit longer than those already in http://robertolofaro.com/business-books.

Until the next time...