Chaos and Change are Brothers - Part 2

Recently a group of really bright folks, Dawn Naney, Clay Goser and Marcelo Azambuja posted a new document entitled "Accellerating the Adoption of Lean Thinking in the Construction Industry" which deals with the issue of adopting lean management theory within the construction industry. The following is part of the response I posted on the LinkedIn discussion group which Dawn posted. I thought after I wrote the response that it is just what I've been thinking about writing as Part 2 of this series, so here goes. I hope you enjoy the read. Of course you know Collaboration is the Glue for Success. If you haven't read Part 1 of this series then here's the link.

I would agree with the findings of the authors, but I contend there are a few of us in the business who have been talking about how to make the change stick and at the same time doing something about it. Up to this point we have been pretty quiet about it. (Yes gentle reader, I'll have much more to say here in this blog over the coming weeks.) The root issue revealed in the adoption curve that Gartner espouses, is the lack of efficient change management. When we stop
focusing on the thing we are changing and instead focus on the issues of changing culture and business thinking, then and only then, can Lean Construction, (A term I loathe, but we all seem to be stuck with for now.) get past the current gap being experienced.

For change to be effective, the community has to be changed, whether it is at a project scale or even larger, needs to rid itself of old thinking which is tied to old ways of acting. All integrated solutions, regardless of their business domain, share this trait. To make the change permanent, we have to be abused mentally to the point of understanding our old traits and thinking cannot succeed. We need to find new thinking patterns and a new basis of relationships to foster the new successful method we want to adopt.

This isn't my epiphany, it's been proven with neruoscience work done in the most rigorous settings and academic research. I've been using these techniques since 2002 and I have seen them work in a myriad of scenarios, businesses, and project types. The results coming out of these engagements have been businesses and their supply chains that experience significant increases in productivity, safety and sales, while at the same time reaping the rewards of reductions in cost, errors and employee loss. In each case, their companies management organization became flatter, more responsive, more encouraging and supportive while workers became more responsible for operational decisions and work performed.

If this sounds like Lean or Agile or any other light weight management theory, you could be right. The point here is, no consultants were brought into these scenarios to encourage this kind of change, the participants did it on their own, every time. They owned the change personally. Streamlined work and accountability, which are the base tenants of Lean and Agile, are a natural, human way of acting. What our economic and legal systems have done to us over the past 100 years is destroy that natural tendency with an overlay of labor division, management hierarchy and tort findings. Oh, I won't say those results haven't brought some desirable changes to our society, but I will say the time for those ideas is over and a new economic and cultural age is dawning.

If we are to change our industry, no if the entire built environment sector is to change, old thinking has to be shed. The harsh light of failure has to be shown on the problem. Then our brains will realize the real dissonance we experience and those looking and realizing will come together to find new ways of accomplishing a previously impossible task because their/our survival requires it.

Neuroscience has revealed a couple of interesting basics in the past ten years about human mental physiology which spans age, race, gender and nationality.

  • First, we are a positive folk: we are wired to think positively and that gives us the ability to take risks. Experience in life might dampen that risk-taking tendency, but it is always there.

  • Second, we are social beings: we only do our best when working as a group, especially on a difficult problem. Success is contagious, even small ones and it reinforces our positive, risk-taking bent.

  • Third, our brains are built to adapt and change: when properly encouraged, many old habits can be erased in days, not weeks or months, you just have to know how to trip the triggers in the human mind to permanently effect the change.

  • Fourth, and lastly for now: Our brains seek congruency in all things, where there is inconsistency in thought it will be manifested in action and attitude and our brains will work very hard to remove that inconsistency. All of us have had that nagging thought just outside of consciousness that says, "Something is wrong here, what is it?"

My practice has been focused on working with people helping them understand how to apply these neuroscientific discoveries about our humanity so they can perform as they should, naturally, not as they are forced to under our current economic and legal framework.
So there you have it in a nutshell. The four central tenants of how to make Change Permanent is, "Change Your Brain and Change Your Life." This isn't some mumbo jumbo snake-oil salesman junk. It's the way we are made so wonderfully. It is the reason mankind can continue to adapt in such harsh and unforgiving situations. It is our "trump card" in life. The only problem is most of us don't learn this stuff until we've been beat around the head and body enough and may be fortunate enough to see beyond our pain. For those of us who subscribe to the 'scientific method' neuroscience has proven what many other older and wiser humans have been learning and trying to pass along for centuries. It is not some mystical revelation, it is just understanding how to use our wonderfully made human brains to get permanent results.

Sometimes we need a coach or mentor to come along side and help us discover these truths about ourselves. When we do, we can take advantage of our most powerful asset given to us, our brain and its wonderful power to learn quickly and permanently. If you feel you are on a burning platform and it's about to fall away from you, then you might just be ready to make these changes. I can guarantee you this science works and works permanently.

Thanks and until the next time, Cheers and good will to all. aa

To continue the series read, Part 3 Lean, Agile and Mgt2.0 can Succeed

This is a post as a String in a continuing series about Change Management, Construction, Design and neuroscience discoveries and the Connections they have between them.

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