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Saturday, April 9, 2011

BABY STEPS.... ONE MILLION AT A TIME.

Everyone around Ebsco is probably tired of hearing me say "Baby Steps...One Million at a Time". I use the phrase often. It fits the changes taking place at Ebsco so well. 
Six months ago when Ms. Dooley, our CEO stated her vision, "Ebsco will be a world class manufacturer in five years", everyone knew that meant change.  Change of some degree is required in any organization; continuous improvement, new technology, new customer requirements.  But this is a completely different level of change.  "World Class" requires real cultural change in the organization and that's significant.
Change is a big topic in the business world and I did my research on change management. I downloaded articles and read books from the experts on change management. They all centered on getting "buy in" from the team on the changes and including them in the process.  Sounded like good advice...but as usual I took a different road.  Selling the team on the process requires management  initiates what will change and then allows the employees to be included on how it will occur.  It seems more logical to allow the "experts", the employees, to determine what needed changing.  We presented Ms. Dooley's vision to the employees and then turned them loose.  We asked them what was needed to make the journey, and did they ever respond.
The one thing I wasn't prepared for was the magnitude of ideas that pour in when you let an energized team loose.  They came from every angle and every department.  I find myself holding on for dear life on a very exciting ride.  I have to keep up.  Anything short would make them feel my commitment and excitement isn't there and I assure you it is.
My role has become coordinator for the changes. 
As "change coordinator" it is essential I take a major role in communications.  Every small change impacts several areas.  If new methods and processes are not communicated effectively to everyone involved, the changes may create new problems that weren't anticipated.  It takes EVERYONE working as a team to analyze how each change will impact their areas and make adjustments for success.
Another role of "change coordinator" is to balance enthusiasm and caution. Crawl, Walk, Run is a prudent philosophy. In today's society, it's sometimes difficult to exercise caution and keep up with the world's pace. It's easy to overlook those who advise caution when making dramatic strides.  They are often the ones never heard until it is too late.  It is important that I insure everyone's input is considered to make the journey a success. A good balance of enthusiasm and caution is the right recipe for change.
It would be much easier to focus on one department or process at a time on this journey.  The problem is that every decision touches every other area.  If it is truly a team effort; nothing stands isolated. We are systematically focusing on specific areas as we go through the process, but the domino effect touches everyone. It is a classic example of the Butterfly Effect.  One change sparks the ideas of a hundred others that all move us closer to our destination. Hence, BABY STEPS...ONE MILLION AT A TIME. 
"A million at a time". I sometimes feel like I am holding on by my fingernails, looking in four directions at once and ready to scream.  Sound familiar?  It's like a roller coaster. The same rush and excitement and yes , the same fun.  I purchased a five year ride ticket on this roller coaster but I assure you when it's over, I'm getting right back in line to ride again.
Baby Steps...A Million at a Time, the Ebsco thrill ride.

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