We have mostly been led to believe that “real change starts from the bottom up“. That any important, consistent change needs to originate from the mass, the people, because if it comes from above, from the leaders, then it means it was prompted, induced.
Sure, for it to be true and permanent, change has to be really pursued from the very people that need to endure it.
But we believe that, in a company, this is not enough.
When we want REAL change within an organization, there needs to be harmony, there needs to be cohesion.
This is why we think that some changes need to start from above as well.
We believe that if the management is not the first line fighting for change, actively demonstrating that it CAN happen, it will never actually do.
This is what we learned during the journey of SPII Evolution.
How do you start a change?
Change is not something that happens on its own: like a fire, you need the right tinder and the perfect fuel to start a flame. If you only provide one of the two, you will not gain much.
So when a company wants its people to be directly involved in the improvement, well…it needs to ask them how!
Usually, the contrary happens. Often are those “above”, the management, the ones who decide which change needs to happen, based on their analysis and knowledge, and pass it on to the various people within the company.
This approach may work well in some cases…but what if the management doesn’t have the full picture of what’s going on “below”?
If you think about it, it’s not them who actually move the levers, push the buttons, engage with clients everyday, use software and hardware, etc etc.
Maybe they have surveyed and questioned the people who actually do it, but still, they may not see it all.
They could not even realize if there is discomfort, if something out of their radar is wrong, because it’s not what they deal with every day.
So how can a company have the full picture?
How can the management really understand what kind of change is needed?
Well, it can just ask!
If the management does this, if they really ask for their people’s point of view, and listen to it with passion, curiosity, and critical spirit, something “magical” can happen:
- People feel empowered and involved, with a real chance to have a say in their company’s direction.
- It provides the company with hands on consultants, who really see what’s going on because they deal with it every day.
- It removes every alibi for people not to change: both the management and the staff are bound to change, because no one can say “ehy, it didn’t depend on me“.
This is how you not only encourage change, but also a “depends on me” culture.
Leadership is the perfect tinder to spark change
SPII EVOLUTION was designed since the very beginning as a journey that would engage the top management first.
In order for it to work for the whole company, the leaders had to become both an example and a sponsor.
This brings a powerful message: one of willingness to listen.
Most of all, one of openness to new solutions that can bring real value, to the company and to each of the people who work there. Solutions that will become projects.
Projects that, if good and well structured, will become reality.
With a 5 step program called SPII EVOLUTION, each of them designed to transform the participants into an army of the best consultants a company could wish for; because no one can find more effective solutions than those who know the situation hands on.
During this journey, which spans across months, all of the people working in the company are divided into groups and led through a number of steps designed to brainstorm, define and ideate tangible solutions to improve the organization.
Each group competes with the others in order to find and suggest the best course of action.
And the management listens. It REALLY LISTENS.
It’s a game-changing moment.
You can’t fake it, you can’t pretend to listen and then go on with your own ideas. If you do, you will end up losing this energy that is growing…or worse.
It is a powerful tool, but it can also be dangerous: it takes courage to go with it until the end.
But if you do…then what happens can be incredible.
The incredible power of leaders who sponsor “DDM”
What does all of this lead to?
To a change in the company culture: as we wrote in a previous article, a culture that changes from “it depends on others” (Dipende Dagli Altri or DDA) to “it depends on me” (DDM, Dipende Da Me).
“It’s not for everyone to do that kind of training: encouraging the whole population of a company to engage, to bring out, to give input – it is a great challenge.
But if the management dares to ask each and every one of them to propose the most drastic, craziest, dreamiest thing they can imagine, and then listens to those inputs and implements them…it can turn a company around completely“, said Fabio Tognetti about the experience of SPII Evolution.
Today you can breathe this kind of culture all around SPII.
It starts to turn a wheel of change that falls back on everything: even the newly hired who didn’t actively participate in the program find themselves permeated with it.
Sentences like “if only I had…”, “if it were this way…“, “if it hadn’t been done that way…” are banned from the vocabulary.
They all become one:
“what do I do with what I have? How do I get the best out of it?”.
It’s like getting home late at night, starving, just to find out that your fridge is half empty.
You can start whining, and complain because you didn’t have time to go for shopping.
Or you can take on the challenge and prepare yourself a creative dinner with what’s there.
Bottom up…AND top down!
This is what happens when change is encouraged from the top…and then takes place from the bottom.
That kind of change is really “integrated“, and its impact can resonate through time and space.
This is the power of a leadership style that encourages people to change by becoming advocate for it.
As Paola put it during the final event of SPII Evo, just before she and the rest of the management started listening to the presentation of the different projects:
“that enthusiasm you see in me is more yours than mine, because I am just a mirror”.
See you next time,