Shedding Your Shell to Grow!

A growing crab may shed its shell as many as 20 times in its life time. During the process they are the most vulnerable to predators, but it is the only way they can grow. World class organizations understand vulnerability can come with growth, but they also understand, much like the crab, that is a time to be cautious.

There are two effective ways to shed an organization’s shell and strategies for protecting the business while it is vulnerable.

Shedding the Shell with a Kaizen Event

A kaizen event is designed to engage the people who do the work and their leadership team in a dramatic change. Kaizens are about change. The kind of change that is intended to be big, impactful, dramatic and in place moving forward. This is the new way we are going to do this process in our desire for this result.

The vulnerability comes with the people who are being asked to change their work. To do things differently is to change what is normal and to change what is normal is to change the culture. Often people do not like change and it is very hard to change culture. Like the crab with a soft shell, some chose to move forward cautiously.

The strategy for protecting the organization is by protecting the people involved. This comes through their involvement in the change. They need to be a part of the kaizen or at least represented by an informal leader who will understand and help sell the changes. The equally necessary strategy is frequent follow-up by the leadership. Simply asking how is it going acknowledges things have changed and it is hard to change.

Shedding a shell with a Bold Physical Change to an Area

A 5S event that is not just designed to clean up the area, but takes the bold step to change the way work is done in an area can be a way to shed an old shell. Moving machines or supplies or adding safety rails, lights, or guards can change what is normal if it is done boldly, colorfully, and organized. When effort is put into setting up shelves for material or supplies that are labeled, color coded, organized by frequency of use, it can signal the shell of old organized areas has been shed.

The vulnerability comes with the people who use the area returning the old way. Just through things anywhere or back where they used to be. If often sounds like, “we set this all up and didn’t use it”. “It just fell apart.” Sort of similar to a crab begin eaten with a soft shell.

The strategy for protecting the organization is by protecting the change. This starts with engaging the people who will be impacted by the change in the change. It also requires frequent follow-ups and a willingness to change the new set up when it does not work. If the new area actually makes things worse – allowing it to evolve allows the shell to harden.

Shed the shell to grow

Organizations that need to grow, not just the revenue line, but in maturity toward world class have to be willing to shed the old shell. It takes four days for most crab shells to return to the hardness they originally had. Unfortunately, it probably takes longer in business.

Help your organization shed old shells. It starts with seeing the shells. They are typically the processes you have done the longest….

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He is also the founder of UTV Advisors, a business consulting firm based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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