Net Impact Webinar Series: Action Learning Call with Paul Hardt, Capella University
Thursday, April 14, 2011
In this Net Impact web call, Paul Hardt explains how to introduce sustainable business practices (SBPs) in the workplace and implement effective change.
I. Challenges to implementing SBPs
“The hard stuff is the easy stuff. The soft stuff is the hard stuff.”
“The hard stuff is the easy stuff. The soft stuff is the hard stuff.”
Hard stuff = technical changes in an organization. We have the best computers and management systems to measure carbon footprint, waste generation, energy and water usage, etc.
Soft stuff = human performance, motivation, relationships, training, resistance to change.
It’s easy to get all the technology and systems in place, but it takes only one human performance error to ruin the implementation of a sustainable business plan.
II. Management decision making styles
How to approach managers to suggest a sustainable business plan for your workplace
A common belief, while often true, is that we have to show proven bottom line impact to get SBPs in place. However, the truth is that sometimes managers make decisions based on factors other than bottom line return. There are a wide variety of decision making styles that managers take when looking at adopting a particular business practice. The key is to cater your pitch to your specific audience by understanding the factors your manager considers when making a decision.
3 basic decision making styles:
Decisions made based on (usually financial) rules – ROI, profit margins, market value
a. Process – Decisions made based on the process of decision making. These managers are more inclined to engage stakeholders in the decision making process to ensure that the decision reflects the interests of the people most affected by it.
b. Risk – Managers with this style are more focused on looking at the risks and benefits of a decision. They may be more inclined to take a short term loss in order to get long term gain.
3) NATURALISTIC (a mixed bag of decision making styles)
a. Stories – Some managers make decisions based on stories they hear at the decision making table, the golf course, happy hour, from a friend in a different company, wherever. If they hear a story from another executive or manager that convinces them to adopt a certain strategy, they will be very influenced by that.
b. Ethical – Decision based on, “Is this the right thing to do?”
c. Idiosyncratic – Decision based on an argument from the latest book or article
Assess the decision making styles of the managers to whom you are pitching your social intrapreneureal idea
* Some managers can have multiple decision making styles. Be able to cater to the subtleties of their styles.
III. FORCE FIELD ANALYSIS
A tool for understanding the dynamics of the forces within an organization that push towards change and those that resist change
Kurt Levine (1940s) developed a metaphor of using physical forces to understand the dynamics of change. There are certain driving forces that move an organization toward change and certain barrier forces that get in the way of change.
Organizations remain static when barrier forces counteract driving forces with equal pressure.
1. Economics – Using resources efficiently can save money, and savings can be passed to customers.
2. Regulation – Laws can push businesses to adopt SBPs
3. Competition – Gain market share
4. Ethics – Concern about the impact of using up the world’s resources
5. Recruitment – Attract new talent. Many new workplace initiates Generation Y look to work for an organization that is making a positive difference in the world.
6. Customer pressure – When making purchasing decisions, conscious consumers demand products from sustainable businesses.
7. Supply chain pressure – Some organizations demand that their suppliers adopt SBPs
1. Cost – Too much investment
2. Time – Too much time and trouble
3. Motivation and values – People lack the values or motivation to find SBPs beneficial
4. Political pressures – Board members, investors, and other stakeholders may squander organizational endeavors to adopt SBPs
Strategy for dealing with resistance/barriers: Brainstorm what constitutes each of these barrier forces in your organization. Rather than pushing the case for the driving forces, determine how the barriers can be removed or reduced. If drivers are pressed too much, then the barriers will counteract with stronger resistance.
IV. BEHAVIORAL ENGINEERING MODEL (BEM) – Thomas Gilbert’s performance improvement studies
A tool for understanding the 6 different key human performance areas that can make or break the “soft side” of introducing sustainable business practices
When strategizing to encourage your organization to use SBPs:
1. Identify each of these six factors of human performance within your company.
2. Ask: How aligned are all of these factors in our organization?
If there is misalignment across some of these factors (with is very possible), your approach in getting people to adopt SBPs is not as effective as it could be. For example, there may be clear expecations and resourceful information for people to do these practices, but at the same time, there may be a conflicting incentive system that rewards people for contradictory behavior.
Think about all of the individual factors and whether they are in place, AND also think about the relationships between these factors and whether they are aligned.
Behavioral engineering model:
V. COMMUNICATING CHANGE
We have moved into a world and culture that is in a constant state of change. How can we help our organizations move through endless instability?
5 factors to consider to promote positive change
(Diane Dormant, PhD, Professor at Boise State University)
1. RELATIVE ADVANTAGE
“What’s in it for me?” Be prepared to talk about the benefit that your particular audience will gain from adopting the change.
Is the change easy to follow? Set clear expectations.
Will the proposed changes blend smoothly into your company’s culture and standard practices?
Be able to adapt the change to the characteristics and needs of the organization. Be flexible and make some compromises to get the most out of the new practices.
5. SOCIAL IMPACT
Who will be affected by the change and how will they respond to it?
5 steps to introduce and encourage positive change (Dormant)
Raise awareness about the change before you try to push it.
2. CURIOUSITY (a great opportunity!)
Provoke curiousity and inquiry. Provide resources such as FAQ lists and other support tools to help get people informed and on board.
Have employees imagine what the change might look like in the near and distant future. People will have both positive and negative outlooks. For negative visualizers, help identify what the negative factors are that are causing concern. Address those concerns to create understanding and a more positive attitude. For positive visualizers, make sure the picture is accurate and realistic. If people have high expectations that won’t be met, then progress will seem slow and unrewarding.
Allow people to test the change strategies in a low impact, low consequence way. They won’t immediately see the full impact of the change, but they can learn to adapt to the change without the fear of making a mistake. Furthermore, you can adjust your sustainability strategy based on initial responses.
Implement SBPs. Set up systems to sustain the new practices. Develop refresher programs. Give feedback about how individuals are doing and how the organization is doing compared to the goals.