Getting On The Same Page Across Companies, Countries and Cultures

October 13, 2021 00:55:21
Getting On The Same Page Across Companies, Countries and Cultures
I See What You Mean
Getting On The Same Page Across Companies, Countries and Cultures
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Show Notes

My colleague Don Weber has deep program and project management experience including leading change efforts which span companies, countries and cultures. In this episode we discuss how he uses time-tested project management techniques to create those ahh-ha! moments needed to get on the same page. Here are a few places I had my own ahh-ha! moments: 

3:22 Leading an ERP implementation for 3700 people in 16 companies across 10 countries 

9:41 Adding an objector to the team to get him on the same page

19:24 Using project targets and outcomes to get people on the same page

28:41 Retiring organizational debt to keep a team together

41:54 Motivating by milestones

 

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:07 Welcome to, I see what you mean a podcast about how people get on the same page and stay there or don't, or perhaps shouldn't today. My guest is Don Weber. Don is a long time colleague and manager with many years experience getting people on the same program and project management pages, Don, welcome to the show. Speaker 2 00:00:25 It's a loop. Thanks a lot stuff for the, uh, invite. Uh, hopefully our discussion will, uh, open up some topics and more questions as we get into. Speaker 1 00:00:34 I know it will, you know, worked together for quite some time, but you've got a very interesting background. Give us a short bio on, on your education and work experience. Speaker 2 00:00:45 Um, you know, education wise, uh, you know, what school, the Jinja that's a George Mason university undergraduate their, uh, graduate degree at, uh, university of Southern counts and, uh, you know, taught for a number of years in the local community colleges. Well, your degrees Speaker 1 00:01:02 Were in what, Speaker 2 00:01:04 Um, I have a bachelor's degree in decision sciences and I specialize in, uh, decision support systems. The master's degree was in systems management. Yep. Um, other certifications, I'm a certified project management professional, a certified scrum master and certified scrum product manager, some aspects of that, my career and so forth. Um, one of the things I wanted to do when I was younger was work international. So, you know, as I started my work, uh, it started the federal sector as a cooperative education student. And from there, uh, went into the private sector, which were more consulting backed to the federal government. And then I worked for a small business. I worked at a large business like McDonald Douglas worked in a small business. We had about six people in the company, learned a lot of bad and you know, running a business at the small level and then, uh, you know, took a venture to work internationally. Speaker 2 00:02:06 So working internationally, uh, went to work for a management consulting company and we had operations is opening up in Asia. I went over to work in Asia. I've worked in Australia, India, uh, throughout Europe as well. Um, you know, the primary projects I worked on, especially when I went over the Asia remark Greenfield type projects, you know, the company or their clients. I'd never done these before. And I would always volunteer now for something new, something innovative, something to add what eaters, you know, bring a new aspect of doing business or process improvements that these companies are actually sometimes will just be a cleanup. Okay. Go in there and clean up. So Speaker 1 00:02:48 Yeah. You know, and there's, there's a story that we've talked about, about a large ERP implementation, uh, inner enterprise resource planning, implementation you were doing was pretty far reaching across the organizations and I think countries, wasn't it? Yeah. So that's a very large change effort in any organization at an enterprise level. And there's a very interesting story in it about how somebody got on the same page, who was throwing rocks at you, but you got them on the same page. How'd that? How'd that go? Speaker 2 00:03:22 Yeah. This was a large programs, multiple year program, global ERP implementation. And this is for the company I worked for at the time. Uh, we had a number of companies total. We had a bats, 6 26 companies that were in the company, but only 16 or excuse me, already 16 were active at the time. Um, but each company had its own HR system and someone would financial accounting system, the countries, or excuse me, the companies were scattered across the globe and we wanted to get everybody underneath one accounting system, one HR system. So we kicked off fence, uh, projects, uh, you know, did the HR aspects of the first followed by the financial county time and expense systems and eventually, uh, you know, wrapped things up with a resource management plan for this consulting counseling. But then as you get into these programs, the, um, the thing that actually impacts them is, is speed right in the quality delivery, because the, the longer it takes the deliver stuff. Speaker 2 00:04:28 And of course, then you get more people say, Hey, you don't know what you're doing and why are you doing it this way versus that way? And when you're working across multiple companies, multiple countries, multiple languages, um, this cultural Parsons snowball, um, as you get in there. And so, um, had a number of people and the most of these individuals coming from the consultant side of the business or wondering, uh, you know, basic things they're impacted by our time and expense systems. So we had one mid-level consultant, um, his aspects on the company, what did he does delivery or time and expense systems with other packages, which were a lot smaller. Um, but he was providing these, the clients. They said, now putting these time and expense systems are pretty easy. You take them, set them up, put them in, you know, within a few weeks or moms or something like that, depending on the complexity of, uh, you know, what's happening at the client's site. And so he got very, you know, uh, vocal about this, um, not only know emails, but in presentations, all stuff, you know, pertaining to WhatsApp happening with the ERP. So Speaker 1 00:05:41 I look at it as the piece said, he knew the Thailand expense reporting was pretty straightforward and he didn't understand what was taking so long with the, with the broader implementation. Was that it? Speaker 2 00:05:55 Yeah. And you know, when you look at the companies, we had, everybody had different holidays across the globe in different countries. Everybody had different ways of doing vacation time, et cetera. So one of the things we did and the accounting systems was instead of saying, you know, waiting for this, leave for this lethal and so forth, we're just going to get one, uh, charge account for leave. But depending on what country you're in it, X amount of days off for holidays, X amount of days Speaker 1 00:06:29 Off for vacation X amount of days off for sick leave, but it's this whole role. And the one charge account that's simplified a lot for the accounting team, but to do that, took a lot of discussion because each country had specific holidays, right? Within certain countries, different regions had different holidays and stuff like that. So, so that took a while that took several months to get that through, but it was actually had to go up to the C-level, um, you know, personnel to make decisions on this, about how they want to run the company going forward. This is interesting. I actually, I want to come back to it, but it's interesting because with we're all involved in organizational change, our listeners are involved in organizational change, and there's often a lot at stake that might have to do with things that are more personal or more significant or in some ways deeper, like, like job functions, right? Speaker 1 00:07:24 Roles, responsibilities, job functions, reporting structure, who you report to organizational structure. A lot of things can change that rattle people. And in this story, in this case, you were changing some things that were fairly administrative, but still it's not, it wasn't easy. It was, it was more complex than met the eye. And it requires behavior change on everybody's part, all of these people who put something in a system or run a system at their country level or company level in the country. So even though it was administrative, it was, it was still a big change effort. Wasn't it being administrative didn't make it any easier. Speaker 2 00:08:05 Yeah. The big, the big thing on a place like this is constantly communication about what's coming. Uh, the other thing was you needed someone, you know, in each of the companies, in each of the countries that you're working for that interpreted communication. Because for example, one of the liners we had deployed was in Japanese. So how you communicate and how it's interpreted could be somewhat different, right. And then throughout Asia, Europe, um, and also, you know, into the Americas and so forth. And, um, it's fascinating. Yeah. I guess to be was anytime we had, you know, like a major rollout we had, shall we say, uh, do kind of a road show to go out there and make sure people understood what's being communicated, but being down on the ground floor with them having a, you know, discussion all hands meeting countries, make sure they understood it. You can have some Q and a and stuff like that. And what you'd find out a lot of times is that the word core discussion, you said, this is really what it means that this project with impact. And then when you get out there and started talking, I said, well, this is what we've been told. And I'm like, well, that didn't come from from HQ. You know? So the doubt I got to understand what's your misinterpretation is, and that's, that's really what it took to turn people around, understand what was going on with this Speaker 1 00:09:25 So tall. So go back to your story. Cause I sidetracked you a little bit about the manager who was, or the consultant you said, who was vocal about an opposition or objections complaints. And he puts some things in writing and I think it got to the executives, didn't it? Speaker 2 00:09:41 Yeah. Yeah. I was, at this time I was reporting to the CFO. Um, and then, you know, of course, you know, the CEO and then sometimes board board of directors would be involved with some of the meetings and discussions as well. So the CFO is somebody that said fix it. Okay. Just basic fix it. And I said, okay. So had a couple of conversations with this consultant. And I said, you know, here's what I'm going to do. I want you to be a part of our team here. Since you have a lot of expertise on the time and extent side, you understand from a consulting standpoint, what's your issues that you're facing with the change in time sheets, processing time sheet policies and procedures, same as expense. Uh, let's bring your expertise into the fold here in office out. So one of the key things we're having was is that each country would have to go and talk to the professional services staff about timekeeping. Speaker 2 00:10:32 And of course, every company, as you're aware, has issues with time sheets being presented correctly on time and being reviewed. Okay. Uh, one of the things that we're putting in place at the time is that time sheets, if there were issues, it's not up to the manager to change, then we would have to reject them and push them back to the employee to change them from a control standpoint. Yeah. So he came in and sat through a number of meetings and of course, some of these meetings get pretty heated with the professional services, uh, managers and so forth that the issues are facing time sheets, how we're gonna approve it, what can you do to help us out? And so a lot of these were confrontational and after he sat through these meetings, it was like, wow, I didn't know you had this much coming at you. Right. So let me make a couple suggestions. Let me go ahead and discuss some things with these, um, peers, um, and find out ways that we can actually simplify the work for that. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:11:31 So that was interesting. So to get them on the same page, you actually invited him onto it, right? You said, come, come onto the team, joined the team, sit in these meetings with me and work these issues through, I don't know him. You might know. I don't know what he thought that meant that he could do. He, I guess he probably thought if what he thought you were doing was a lot simpler than it was. He knew what to do. He was going to come on the team and show you how to do it. Speed. Like you said, speed of implementation is big in these, in these large scale changes. And he was going to show you how to make it go faster. And then he realized there was so much more going on than he saw or that he, that, that, that he on his own page, on his own page, Don, what did he see? He saw what the time and expense processes and policies were about. Right. Which is fairly bounded, right? It's not, uh, it's, it's fairly bounded. It's not a big space or a big terrain. He thought that that was pretty straightforward, right? Speaker 2 00:12:38 Yeah. Most of the clients that you've worked for, uh, either have never had a, uh, an automated time and reporting system or an expense system. And he's putting these. And also a lot of them are not as, should we say in the professional services area, the Remar for now, people are running, uh, no time and expense for their people in the field. Sales might be some engineers and stuff like that. But when are you in the professional consulting services, people are out there working with clients, making changes. So they're expecting what they're going to be provided. It's going to be very simple for them. Of course, they all want to roll up the sleeves and you try to make things simple, not only for themselves, but for the company. Sure. Or they're consulting back to us. Um, from an accounting standpoint, you know, we just want to put at the time and accounting system, we didn't want to put bark and, and able to manage it. And of course we want quality time sheets coming back in and that, or should we say timely and that they hit the deadlines and Sophia. Speaker 1 00:13:39 But the interesting thing is when you said that the meetings, you invited him into, some of those got heated, there was the professional services folks. What were some of their concerns? What got the energy going around some of these around this that he, that he sat in and saw for the first time, what was going on? Speaker 2 00:13:58 Um, um, a couple of things going on when I was working in India at the time. So we would have had managers say, would have, I mean, they could have 30 or 40 times she'd say, would have to approve teams or stuff, uh, where he was working. He might have a team of three and five people that are working across multiple clients and all that stuff. So his, his concern was more about, um, is the time being charged correctly. Yeah. And can I get them in timeline on the other side, the managers to say, you know, I got 30 time cards and I have to review. Yeah. Okay. So you know how much time I have to get these things in? They, of course, a lot of times I'm just approving them and the hours may be incorrectly entered on stuff and all of make the changes as opposed to go back to the employee. Speaker 2 00:14:47 So it's really the conversations back controls, you know, like accounting controls on stuff. Uh, so we don't get audited. Um, and so that's what they're concerned about. It's like I got to get all this work done and now you're asking me that I have to reject them pushing back to my staff. I have to follow up to staff. They have to fix or expansive time sheets. And then they have to come back to me again and I have to approve them, I read and fix them. And so we had discussions like that. Um, and you know, and he got involved with them too. You know what I'm saying? Like maybe consider doing this, that we consider doing that. And again, like I said, they were like, I don't know, there's a group of three to five of these, uh, uh, managers that would come back and it was like, okay, let me just bite your head off and tell you how we should do it. And so he, he was like coming out a couple of minutes, like, wow, that's pretty intense. I didn't expect that you were facing stuff like that. And these are my peers. I know these people, I, you know, to suit, he originally was from India and then he moved to California and was working for our practice there. But he was like, I got, I kind of grew up with these guys in the organization. It was like, they don't care who I am. You know, Speaker 1 00:15:55 It's fascinating. Um, he got on the same page because, okay. So I think of our page, we're on our own, our own page as a vantage point on something, right. In this situation that had to do with the ERP implementation in this situation, particularly it had to do with, let's just say it was the time and time and expense reporting. So he had a point of view. He had a vantage point on that and you got them in the meetings, the broadened, his vantage point on that. And at that point he stopped throwing rocks. Right. He stopped complaining about how long things were taking, because he realized you had to get in these meetings, you said 16 active companies. So you had to do this over and over and over around the world. And this is just, this was just one piece, right. This might've just been the time and expense reporting of that module of a very broad ERP. Right. So he had a different understanding of why things were taking the length of time, the amount of time they were taking. Speaker 2 00:17:02 Yeah. And it's, um, you know, a lot of it's, um, you know, w we have eventually worked through all this stuff and what's came down to this week, you know, it's, uh, we had a train, a number of, uh, people in each of the countries and companies, and then we had to go out and do the road show for the new time on accounting and the expense reporting system. So it was kind of a company by company country by country rollout. Yeah. Then, but this, I would say of all the things we pushed out there, this is where we had them, both Q and a okay. When we went out and did the discussions and the training. So, um, you know, so for example, one of the countries wanted, they had, I forgot how many, how long did they say anything like 20, 25 holidays or something like that. And a lot of these are embedded into the culture. And so we said, well, we're only going to give you X amount of holiday. So you choose which one of those are put into the holidays. The other one is you're going to have to use your personal time, vacation time or whatever you want to call it PTO. And so that opened up a lot of discussion all related to time sheets. Right, right, Speaker 1 00:18:16 Right. Yeah. True. True. So, so I think of, I have a definition of getting on the same page, which I think we might've discussed, but before I say it, I may ask you, how do you think what's your definition of getting people on the same page Speaker 2 00:18:31 For me, it, I guess sort of find it, think about what the Delta is between where we're going, either as an organization or as a team or something like that, and find out what the disconnect with someone else's, or with their, um, uh, points of contention or, you know, why are they angry or why they think, Hey, we should go a different direction or something like that. You know, this find out all that. Then some of it might be based on experience. Some of them, you know, they experienced them in a good can, bad, but finding out what's is a different. Speaker 1 00:19:01 And so, yeah, you said Delta difference. And if you, and so is your notion of getting on the same page, does it involve, would you say it involves alignment? So if you knew what the Delta was and you could close that gap, are you looking for alignment or what's, what were, how would you describe what it means to then address that address that Delta and close the gap? Speaker 2 00:19:24 Um, alignment, I think is good, but I guess what I, what I try to look at is what's the overall it's okay. That we're trying to achieve. If we agree to the targets, in other words, the end result of it. Okay. Then we could, we could work through whatever the minor things are. Okay. I understand that there's a specific target as a team project team, program, team, or company that we're going for and, and the in buy-ins. And they understand that sometimes the target that we're aiming for may not be clearly defined. So if it's not clearly defined, then it's up to us to kind of add more definition to it. Sure. Okay. Yeah. You need different perspectives that build this definition, right? Speaker 1 00:20:07 So, so you get, if you get agreement clarity on the end means then you're, then you're the sum of the differences or some of the places, if people are on the same page about the end, where they might not be on the same page as about the means to the end, right. And that's what you're saying. You can negotiate, or you can work through those, those, those issues. But if you don't have the end clear and people, um, on the same page with it doesn't matter what you do with the, with the means to the end. Speaker 2 00:20:38 Uh, the other thing I think is if we come to that clear, um, acceptance and definition with the target is then is I think it's an easier way to what the roles responsibilities are for each person on the team to get there, and also what they bring their strengths, weaknesses. And that way that helps you align because now is marching the same direction. Everybody's clearly defined what they bring to the team and what they're responsible for. And by doing that, I think that kind of takes away some of the difficulties that we have and moving forward, it's always, to me, it's always been moving forward to get to the target. Sometimes you got to push, we got to pull. Sometimes you got to carry people to get there. Speaker 1 00:21:21 Sometimes someone's got to maybe be, be, let go, not from the company, but maybe off of a team. Um, so, okay. So I liked that the clear target means you can clarify roles and responsibilities. That's, that's good. I like, I think of getting on the same page as agreeing enough. And I use that word deliberately, like agreeing enough to take the next step together. So in a process in which people are, that they're not on the same page and they're trying to get there. They might be early in the process where they're, it's proper to do some discovery and assess what's discovered you could be at the other end of the spectrum. You're rolling something out. You're implementing something you've designed that you agree to. So you could always find in a process in a, in an overall process, many points at which people are agreeing on where they're at at that moment. Speaker 1 00:22:17 And they know what next step to take. I tried to find for myself a definition of getting on the same page that was very, very, very operational, highly operational. So I could make observations about it at this point. Do people even understand where they are and do they agree where they are at a point in the process and are they agreeing enough at this point to take the next step? So I was also trying to get away from the idea that getting on the same page meant consensus or unanimity. It might, I'm not saying it never does, but it doesn't need to, and you can't always have that all along the whole, all throughout the whole process, you have to build it. And so I thought making, getting agreement enough right now to take the next step, God people on the page at that time, plus building the capability to do that together, right? Speaker 1 00:23:09 So they're, they're learning from each other how to have those conversations with each other. And you've got people from different points of view, different roles, responsibilities, representing different aspects of a program or a project. And they're figuring out as a team, how to bring those things together to each other, to make sense of them together. So I can make sense that my piece of it, and I know Don can make sense of his piece of, of, of something sub part of the, one of the challenges is to learn how to have the conversations together about how to pull that individual knowledge into a group knowledge, right? It is a little bit of a capability building in that that helps them through the process. Does that make sense? Speaker 2 00:23:51 Um, another question, as you were talking, I was thinking that the word at transparency, so nice. Where do you get any sides to get, get the alignment to get in agreement? Sometimes you have to be somewhat transparent about some information that you need to share. Okay. You know, to kind of bring this alignment together. In other cases, maybe not as much these to be a shared about where we're going on. So, you know, uh, an interesting thing came about, uh, you know, when I was one of the projects of work in Nasia, we did a lot of fixed price contracts. So on that, try to get people to think more innovative, be I guess, motivated to keep them going on stuff to be more transparent. And so one of the things on the transparency is delegation. All right. So for example, instead of sounding like one project manager with a large team of, you know, 10 to 20 people or something like that, you kind of break it down the sub, right? Speaker 2 00:24:50 So you get team blades. And so you communicate downwards. You're very transparent of where we're going with the targets are. The other thing is when you work on fixed price contracts, essentially to get something done, the more money you put in your pocket, right? So innovation is kind of key in that. So being transparent and bringing innovation into the teams, the teams think differently makes them work better as a team or a larger team, things like that because they can constantly think through things. They haven't have. We tried this and we thought about this whiteboard, some things out in place, and then delegating people to make decisions at a lower level on the T. Okay. And bring the options up to, you know, whatever the later is the sub team later, or the overall team later and have things presented downwards and outwards, but, you know, add bar trans, uh, excuse me, Trent transparency, and also more, um, innovation and the team make them work think differently and go faster. The faster they go more profitably to the, uh, uh, for the project. And essentially it impacts the bonus pool as well, you know, for specific teams. Well, that works definitely, I think, Speaker 1 00:26:04 And here's what I heard in that, which is, well, you described to me sets up a different forum or level of engagement. So if you broke a 20 person, let's say it's a project team down into some sub teams, then you're engaging three or four, let's say, and of the, of the members to be team leads, right. So they've got a different form of engagement. Uh, that way it gives them something more at stake, right? If I'm on that three, or if I'm on a team, the first three or four teams of say four or five teams of 20 people, uh, I'm, I'm, I'm one of four or five on a team. Now I, the scale of the whole thing changes for me now, I have, it feels different to work with four or five people on a piece of the project, knowing that all of the pieces are rolled up above that, to the whole project. Speaker 1 00:27:00 But now I feel like I have a different ability, a better ability to participate in, in, in, in, uh, an effect or contribute to produce a result in something that's on a scale that I'm closer to. So yeah, pushing that delegation down, you were engaging people at a different, in a different way at the quote, lower levels. It's it's I kind of, I don't always like that higher, lower metaphor, but it it's, we're stuck with it. So at the lower levels, they're engaged in a different way. I think that's, you know, there's a lot of research in, of all of our experience shows that that's typically effective at getting people motivated, contributing. How have you dealt with differences when, so if you've got people engaged and they're, let's just say that there's a genuine opportunity for them to have conversation. They've got questions, concerns, objections. Speaker 1 00:28:00 They might really think something should be done a certain way in those differences. As you know, there could be good ideas for innovation out of those differences can come some creativity, but you can also get caught in the differences and end up in conflict. So we have this picture in our minds of sort of a rosy picture of good participation and people are, they've got there, everybody's got pulling their oars in the same direction, but it doesn't always work that way. What other ways have you used to help people overcome differences, convert their differences into maybe a, a more productive way forward as a group or a team? Speaker 2 00:28:41 Um, well, I'll give you an example here. So, um, yeah, I was working down in Australia. Uh, it was on an assignment for a national discount grocery retail enterprise. Um, my role in that engagement was I was in charge of all supply chain systems, covering products coming from the Fonz and products coming from manufacturers to the store shelves. So I had everything from transportation, warehousing, uh, all the way to spore shelves. And I would say one of the issues that we encounter on that was, you know, we had, I had the, uh, legacy systems, um, also at the time, this is that's the time Y2K was going on. So we didn't, you know, we had to start staffing up to get a Y2K prep for the legacy systems were sort of developing cobalt, decided to on them shop operations, mainly shot. We had about a four to five people, um, at the time. Speaker 2 00:29:34 And we had a new, a young team leader who's just hired. This guy, knew COBOL inside. Now that he knew how to fix one of the, one of the key things that we were facing was that, um, the legacy systems typically have somebody's shoes when they ran their, uh, overnight programs. And so wherever it was assigned overnight duty, uh, typically had the role to slaves and fix things and keep the systems running as a team lead. A lot of the times he got brought into this, uh, the help, you know, some of his colleagues or if he was in charge of night, he would be working overnight as well. And this happened is way too much. And what we're finding out was there were a number of things that business wanted to do. Uh, and a lot of times the data going into the legacy systems, wasn't done correctly based on data entry on staff. Speaker 2 00:30:25 And they were constantly fixing errors and data, which caused the systems to shut down or produce in incorrect results than we were expected, expecting that overnight. So he approached me one day and said, you know, Hey, uh, you know, work, our systems runs seven days a week. Um, I'm probably up four or five nights a week working on these. And plus, you know, I have to come into work the next day, full day, I got a young family, uh, you know, I guess baby's bed two or three years old. Plus his wife was expecting again. He says, you know, I can't do this. And I just thought, you know, we spent so much time to find the individual to bring in and never find out is, you know, we're going to loosen. And so I said, well, instead of losing, you, let's sit down. Unless if you want, you know, you and I can come together, you bring in the rest of the team, less whiteboard out the issues that you're facing, you know, teach art. Speaker 2 00:31:24 Right. Okay. What are the issues facing? Okay. And then tell me ways you think you can improve things and yet they're outside of your control. Bring it to me and I'll raise it. He's the people in the business side, or raise it up to the CIO to try to get these things resolved. If you need another person or if you need, what do you guys need? Okay, let's sit down. Let's work through that. So we had a couple of sessions on that and we came out of those sessions and they felt pretty good. Cause now they said, yeah, we kind of brainstorm all the things we need. So that took the leader, sat down with the CIO and said, he's aware of it too. Cause he would get phone calls from people at business, late at night or stuff like that. And when he sat down and said, here's everything, we need to improve things. Speaker 2 00:32:10 A lot of this stuff was, things are being one of the change by the business, but they're not bringing us in. So they know what the impact is. All right. And he said, you know, that's well, no, it was spot on. So let's get us some, let's get you involved in our discussion so that this is in front of that. The probably the best way to get this thing done for them, that doesn't have a major impact to your personal life or professional life. Right. I run. And so after bringing that in, they were engaged in starting the conversations or being part of the conversations about any major changes to legacy systems, or if they had to bring a new systems, they would have to interface with legacy systems and stuff like that. And when we shot out, was there overnight hours that there were spending, fixing things to keep going actually dropped down to almost nil and that occasionally something would happen and they were, you know, we'd get a phone call that, you know, they have to fix something. Speaker 2 00:33:10 Okay. But these guys, their quality life went on in their professional life. One up too. Cause now they were part of being upfront in these engagements, understanding what the impacts would be. So it's pretty much as risk management way. They will look at stuff and educate the whole team, all that. And I actually, you know, empowered him to take the charge on leading this. After he came with me, we would have the discussions. And I said, I think you're good to go. You can actually have these by yourself. Now, if you want all 10, all this be a person as an attendee, occasionally add some comments or some insight to what the conversation where it's going and stuff like that. But you know, you, you need to take the ownership of this cause you own the team, you know, you own your personal life. Okay. That's backed by your professional life. Speaker 1 00:34:01 So that's good. Speaker 2 00:34:03 Yeah. I was gonna say that that has changed the whole of the team and how they thought. Yeah. Okay. Where in the past they weren't empowered to do that or didn't think they were empowered. Did that. Speaker 1 00:34:16 And I might not have been. So this is a situation in which the individual is, we're carrying the extra burden of the bad process and you were about to lose one. And so you said to him, instead of you quitting, let's look at this and see if we can solve it. And then he, you and he and the team were able to make some process changes that improved their quality of life, their professional contributions and prob, and I'm sure made improvements to the overall programming. Speaker 2 00:34:49 Yeah, really. Um, you know, the way I looked at it was a lot of the vibe of the people, the team was like, yeah, we've been doing this for years. Right. And worked at all for this extra room over here. No one knows what we do, how much we do and stuff like that. But you know, essentially empowered them, I guess, discuss, be innovative and whatever your list of things that you require. Let's bring it up to the CIO. Let's ask for it. The CIO pretty much. I think he approved, you know, probably 90% of the stuff they requested and uh, the other stuff they would have to make, you know, a larger investment in and things like that. But they were like, wow, wait, we need to know weaker to ask. Speaker 1 00:35:30 Okay. Well, and you know, I've, I've, I've, I've blogged about a concept called organizational organizational debt. Uh, well, you know what technical debt is. And I brought I've blogged about organizational debt being a little bit, just a little bit of a broader concept, but really what you, you retired some technical and organizational debt, they retired some technical and organizational debt by the conversation is that you said let's have right. Because as they fix things and make things better and move things upstream in the process, you're, you're getting rid of the decisions that were legacy decisions that resulted in them, fixing stuff overnight in that condition. Um, and you made improvements that fixed that retired technical debt in the system and retired organizational debt for everybody, including the business units. That's pretty cool. Speaker 2 00:36:21 I may, the big famous is seeing the smiles on their face and the stress and then getting sleep to Speaker 1 00:36:28 Well, exactly, exactly. Because that's the thing about organizational debt is that people carry it, the organization partially at some point in time, the organization makes decisions. Many of them over time, which only solve a problem part way or only take you so far down a path. And it's that Delta, it's that difference between what needed to be done or what got done that individuals have to pick up and carry. And at some point like these guys were carrying a pretty heavy load of organizational debt to the point where the guy saying I got to resign because I can't work a day job work all night and have any quality of life with my family. I think in terms of, of a few things, Don, when I'm looking at a situation, a trigger trigger, and the first story was the ERP system implementation. And particularly the time and accounting or time and expense piece of it changing, that was a trigger. Speaker 1 00:37:25 Uh, in the last story there, it was, it was, um, actually the trigger. It might've been guy coming in St. Dominic, I can't do this. I gotta, I gotta find a different job. The triggers for him, where the constant overnight, you know, fixing. And then there's a narrative that goes with the trigger is always ways people in the organization talk about what they're facing. And if you listen to it carefully, you find certain words and phrases, certain concepts that have certain meaning for them, that reveals they're struggling with that reveals what they're motivated by and reveals what they're rewarded by. And then there's their behavior. That's what they do each day. This last situation you described reveal something, a difference, a great difference between narrative and behavior, where the narrative that I could imagine those guys were having was we shouldn't have to do this. Speaker 1 00:38:21 This shouldn't work this way. There's a better way that we could do this. But to behavior they were engaged in every day was fixing problems overnight. And you get that big Delta between the way that people think things should be in the way they are. And it causes a lot of it can cause a lot of stress. It can, it can, it can break an individual can break a team that can cause things to be dysfunctional and fixing that situation might be a matter of closing that gap between what people think could be done or should be done. And, and the way they're the way they're doing it. Did you ever think about the narrative that you're hearing from people as you, as a project manager or program manager, as you enter a situation, as, as you dig deeper into a situation, you hear the narrative and you listen to what they're saying, words and phrases, they use the energy around those words or phrases. Is that an opposition to something or a supporter of something what's your use of the narrative as you're sizing up a situation? Speaker 2 00:39:24 Um, I, I hear this a lot in my current work and I've thrown toward it probably throughout my careers. So there, there are people I guess, and it I'll kind of put it into two buckets here. Right? So one bucket, you got people then working in the organization a long time, 10 years, 15 years or something like that, they're embedded. Right. And so that's just the way it's always been. Okay. And, and so I show up to work and I do my thing. Uh, could it be better? Yeah. Okay. And then I said, well, have you ever spoken up? You know, and, and I, I, you know the question, why not now? Why have you asked these questions? Why, why do we have to do this? Why do we have to do that? It's more of a why type thing. Right. A lot of people don't want to rock the boat or something like that, conversation like that. Speaker 2 00:40:13 But in order to change things, I think you have to ask that question. Why not have you tried the board? And if we haven't, why not? Right as so. And that's what I've found out as there, there, there are some people like who I'm not empowered to do this on, you know, it's like, I don't think it always sets to do it has to do with empowerment. I think it's this really, can you, you know, meet with a manager, discuss things, find that there's ways to improve things, not only for the manager, but also for the next level up or a couple of levels up in the organization. Some of that has to do with, you know, where the, again, about the target, where is this organization going? That they really care about improvements or making things better for the staff or are they concerned just on the target? Speaker 2 00:40:59 Is the target clear to the overall team? And if, if it is clear that it doesn't matter if you're the lowest person on the totem pole, because anything that you bring back that could be innovated, it's a cost and prove something to cut time or something like that, um, would be a separate. Okay. Now when you have an organization that kind of says, we're open to this innovation and then how do people actually bring this innovation up forward, recognize, recognized for it. And sometimes it may just take someone to facilitate it. Okay. That's understand things. So an example here would be, um, you know, an organization I worked for was they start projects and they continue to go on. They never end. So they go on for years and all that stuff. And I was like, well, that's, that's not good. Right? So they said, it takes forever to implement certain technologies on stuff. Speaker 2 00:41:54 And I said, well, what, what's kind of the whole bag. Well, the whole bag really is, you know, people accepting this. So we're having, you know, you know, this model, if we're going to do 50 next month, 3, 11 50 a day, and it broke this thing down and say, we're just going to start projects. So they don't have, there's an overall target, but there's not smaller milestones or smaller targets what they have to do. And it's a lot easier. I think if you had these milestones that targets you accomplish this, bam. Okay, great. Let's go to the next one, bam, to get them on. Let's go to the next one. So you kind of break it down for them. So it's not this humongous project. It's actually smaller pieces that we need to focus on and get them done. When you get that, then you get this momentum going and next, you know, these milestones start going by like, uh, Jefflin cards or something like that. Speaker 2 00:42:39 I mean, they just happened so quick. And then people buy into that. And that's, that's really kind of a project management philosophy that once you start seeing that and they're like, well, why didn't we bring project management? And earlier to this to help us actually identify breakfast. Project is overall effort down to smaller chunks finished then. And then we looked behind us where the road was that we passed and we hit all these milestones. And in front of us, we can see what the end is because now we've got milestones in front of us. We know how to accomplish each milestone to get there. Right? Speaker 1 00:43:13 Yeah. I like that. I know you, so I know I'm not surprised to hear you say these things, but I I'm thinking I'm, I'm processing them myself in a, in a different, so, so, so you asked some questions to get some conversation started. The why and why not question? You said something important is let's not, let's not wait for a memo or a meeting from the boss that says, Hey, you guys are empowered. Let's just claim the power that we ought to have within the project. Let's say, right, you weren't doing anything. You shouldn't do that. You weren't going outside some boundaries. You're just saying, look, we've got some authority and responsibility within a project. If we can make recommendations for improvement, we should do it. There's a kind of a self-empowerment is I think what you were saying, you were advocating for it, right? Speaker 2 00:44:02 Yeah. I had a client many years ago. I never forget this. He said, you know, I read a, have people on my team to go out and do stuff and I come back and slap their hand. Okay. Because I know whatever they're doing is like a breakdown the whole organization. Yeah. And so they I'd rather be, let them be in a beta. Okay. And, and, and, and manage, be empowered to do these things. They don't need to come to me and ask, I do this because whatever, I mean, unless it's going to be millions of dollars or something like that, but he said, most of the things they could do are breweries small, simple things, but it makes it, it all adds up to the end here. And so, yeah, when I was talking to earlier, dad bringing it down from a larger team down with smaller teams, these smaller teams have to be empowered, to think innovative things, working for effective and efficient in what they have to do and maybe compete against other sub-teams on stuff and, and what they're doing. But I think at the end, it's the lessons learned that they present as individuals, as sub-teams, as the overall team to the organization. And when you start doing this other paper, and I say like, w what was, what was different about your team? Why, why was innovation that keeps people motivated and allows them to have a story that's held himself? Right. Speaker 1 00:45:18 So something just came to mind. Let me ask you this question. I think that as a, in the position you're in program manager, project manager, team lead says to a team, a group of people let's solve a problem. That's pretty empowering. I idea of, and to me, the definition of a problem is there's a position you're in today, let's say conditioner position, a there's a position or condition you want to be in B. And there's a gap between where you are and where you want to be. And it's important to close that gap, but it's not necessarily easy to do it. You'd have to put some effort into figuring out how to close that, to get from a to B. So a problem doesn't connote, anything negative to me, it's more descriptive of a, of a condition. If you do some problem solving, if you come together to figure out how to close that gap, to get from where we are now, to where we want to be, you're asking people to bring their experience and knowledge, skill, mindset training. You're asking them to bring what they know to bear on solving a problem. How have you fostered, how have you facilitated the conversations to get people, to bring those individual reference points and experience together to create a group knowledge that integrated their separate views? Speaker 2 00:46:37 Yeah. Okay. I'll give you an example, I guess. Um, when I, when I think of, you know, if you're on the professional services side, you know, you focused on delivery, okay. If you're on the sales side, salespeople have, you know, are able to get the foot in the door or get the conversations going and stuff like that. Uh, but I think if you team with someone from the professional services to make this joint sales call, because when you go in, you're going to speak to managers. You may have to speak to the technicians on their side or engineers, or what have you decision makers, right? What they're looking for Roy is okay. If I buy this, what's the impact to the organization. And there's financial impacts. There's technical impacts is organizational people impacts and stuff like that. But what they want to know is what was your lessons learned doing this client or doing this internally to your organization? Speaker 2 00:47:31 If you brought this technology in and of the sales calls are gone. And a lot of times is that the, the people on the other side is like, you know, let me tell you about my culture. Let me tell you about my presentation. How's this, how's this, how's this going to be acceptable? What's the impacts. I need to face your word of the risk. And a lot of times what I found out was if you got a small group going in there, girls, like, do you have a whiteboard? Okay, let's just kind of talk about this thing could be a teacher, could be, you know, Hey, you draw a couple of things. I'll draw a couple of things. Tell me about what all your issues are. And let's talk through each of those. So it becomes more of a set of a sales session, becomes more of a, of a problem solving discussion with that. Speaker 2 00:48:16 And then that gets them engaged. And they may come back and say, that individual I came in and helped me whiteboard this solution. I want that person to be part of the team. Okay. Because he and I have connected, um, at, at this point on how we're gonna solve this. Okay. There's we don't have it down to the level of detail, but I have the, you know, the buy-in that this person understands. He can get down a level of detail, whatever we encountered together, this will allow us to work together and resolve it as opposed to his he's resolving something coming to me, or I'm resolving something. Yeah. It's more of a joint team. And if you played sports or coached sports teams, or even if you're a referee, you, if you, you can observe this, it's always about some problem solving on the field, right on the court, stuff like that. Speaker 2 00:49:05 And you know, you see players talk to each other, sometimes a yell. Sometimes they push it up, whatever, but they're doing something that the buy-in because, you know, they handling overall targets. The target is the win okay. For their team or do something individually, uh, you know, to help the team, stuff like that. Uh, but I, I think he gets the same engagement when you're working with feature clients or current clients that you have to have this facilitation or this, um, uh, engagements that you come to being in a mind, you understand what the target is and where you're going. And also, it's kind of like, there's this gap between the two companies and you don't know about what you're getting into. And so you sign a contract and that could be like a, I always say, anytime you sign a contract, like a marital arrangement, right? Because you have certain plans and responsibilities on each time. A lot of times, you're just kind of guessing at it until you actually find out or get decision. Now we've got to really work it through and discuss it. And then you find what the differences are Speaker 1 00:50:03 And teach art a couple of times. And so is that to say what that is, and you sounds like something you'd like to use. Tell me about it. Speaker 2 00:50:09 Um, the teacher could be pretty simple. I've, you know, one side you say out here, the problem is, and the other side you say here's potential solutions to work through it. You know, other times it may be, uh, you know, here are the pluses and minuses about something that we plan to make a decision on. Okay. Uh, it could be risk on one side. Mitigation is on another. So you kind of gotta break it down. And to me, this is what allows everybody to have a discussion about it. You can facilitate this and visually you see it as opposed to, I think it's this sort of thing. It's that basic teacher is probably one of the simple techniques to use. Right? Speaker 1 00:50:47 Two things you said, I think we're spot on one. It facilitates, it promotes it, it encourages conversation, right? Because people can exactly, and people could talk past each other. Not meaning to each person could be voicing a legitimate concern or a little bit legitimate question or issue about something that the team's doing. But in that unstructured setting, you lose good information and you mostly just frustrate people in the conversation. Cause it doesn't seem to get much, the conversation doesn't go anywhere. The teacher structures the conversation, some like you said, the tea comes from the shape of it, right? Like it's just, uh, a topic at the top and a split down the middle on left. And right. You might have, like you said, risks and mitigations problems, solutions, pros, and cons. So you start to structure the conversation by that visual, that layout. And then like you said, it gets written down. Speaker 1 00:51:46 So it's no longer just words in the air, but you're capturing things. And that, and that writing act of writing that, writing those things down, facilitates clarification. Cause somebody can say, wait, that's not what I thought that meant. Or that's not what I meant when I said that. Right? So you can clarify and further elaborate meanings that people have, the differences of which could be important. If those differences are lost on the group and you proceeding toward implementation, those differences could rear up and cause a problem you're gonna, you're gonna hit a wall. Eventually you're gonna have to clean it up eventually. And it might be at a costly point in the project, writing it down, like a lot of things that were, we've talked about on our, in our discussion, you're pushing clarity, upstream. You're getting things clearer, sooner rather than later. And that's just better for implementation, Speaker 2 00:52:37 But at least armed bereavement. Right. So I mean, if you, if you teach teacher and something, yeah. Everybody has an input in there hopefully. Right, right. But you get a visual, it's an agreement and it's clear because it's now been documented. So if we, if we have a specific target we're going after we have this teacher and a lot of times what I've done is, uh, you know, when he gets certain things, especially if you're working on a flip chart or a whiteboard or something like that. Right. So when you get these things done, you can actually take that and put it into the team meeting area, right back as your, where you get meetings, you talk about it. You can come to an agreement five or six weeks later, it comes up again. What did we talk about previously? Well, let's go backwards in the chart. Okay. And let's, let's talk about it and see if our perspective has changed now, based on the last three, four or five weeks we've been working, are we still in agreements to what we discuss? You know, several weeks back. All Speaker 1 00:53:37 Right. Yeah. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:53:40 So that's, um, that's, that's why I think it's, it's, it's kind of a bonus thing there that's, you know, cause everybody can always look at that again. Cause you know, you wake up well, you know, Monday go to work. It's like, well, did we agree to let, let me go. Speaker 1 00:53:53 Right. Well, and, and there should be learning that occurs over time. As you, as you continue to discovery of issues, as you continue sizing them up, I, you know, I sass or appraise them as you apply what you're learning to decisions to actions. You should learn more the ability to go back and look at it and say, you know, when we first did this process, we thought these things meant certain things. Now that we're further along, do we have a better understanding of them? To me, that's one critical thing to do to get people on the same page. Don, thank you for joining the podcast. Speaker 2 00:54:32 Yeah. Appreciate it. Uh, want to do another one in the future on open the help you out on anything. Speaker 1 00:54:38 Thank you. I think it was a good conversation. We covered a lot of aspects of getting on the same page and you know, your international experience and the scale at which you'd done. Some of these projects involving multiple companies, multiple countries different cultures were interesting and insightful. So thank you. Appreciate it. And that's how I see it. My friends, I want to thank Don for recording today's episode. You can find it on cast dos, where I host my show. Plus the places you usually listen to podcasts, send questions and suggestions through the app. Subscribe and give me a five star rating unless you can't. In which case, tell me why and join me next week. When we take another look at how to get on the same page and stay there, unless you shouldn't.

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