» Download emperor.pdf Written by Douglas Ross Is your organization meeting the right targets? Are your people displaying the behaviors that lead to significant performance improvement? Is your organization identifying and dealing with its current realities? Is your culture strong and vibrant at all levels? Do you know why the organization is perfectly aligned to get the results it currently is achieving? An organization is a purposeful system with specific performance objectives. To achieve its purpose, organizations create departments. Departmental organization and the interrelationship between departments affect performance. For example, the effectiveness of the materials management department and its interaction with operations impacts business target achievement. If department operation and any inter-department interaction occur with inefficiencies and waste, then these inefficiencies are translated into costs that carry forth into the performance.
This explains why every organization is perfectly aligned to get the results it currently gets. The inefficiencies of the organizational systems and structures and their interrelationships directly impact the bottom line. Organizational integrity occurs when every part of the organization is firing on all cylinders. Organizational integrity is the standard for efficiency and effectiveness within the whole organization. One strong integrated department, firing all cylinders, cannot perform for the whole, when all around it is not. Conversely, one ineffective chaotic department can become the weakest link that can negatively impact the entire organizational performance. “Results through Integrity” is a process that reveals your standard of organizational integrity. “Results through Integrity” assesses how individuals optimize themselves and the organization by dealing with reality. “Results through Integrity” assesses how organizational systems and structures interact with the core value stream to determine process flow. “Result through Integrity” assesses leadership and organizational change management for the ability to move the organizations away from of the status quo. “Results through Integrity” assesses the potential of high performance organizational teams to meet the performance targets. Performance and integrity are boardroom realities. These two fundamental virtues are at the heart of any organizational strategy that is designed to win in the marketplace. Performance is a force that feeds itself. It motivates people to higher levels of achievement. It pays dividends and dividends keep the organization alive another day. Integrity is also a force within builds upon itself. Integrity is an internal virtue that challenges people to do the right thing at the right time. Integrity brings success and success motivates everyone. When everyone contributes in a meaningful way to organizational performance then the organization stays alive another day. Corporate leaders expect that their organization knows the virtues of performance and integrity. They expect that the people throughout the organization deal effectively with the embedded organizational realities. They expect that the systems and structure that support the value stream are intact and sound. They expect that leadership creates change management plans that deals with the challenges and conflicts within their departments. They expect that teams in the organization realize their potential through working together to achieve corporate performance targets. They expect their organization perform through integrity. Yet inexplicably over time, expectations and reality clash when performance falls short of what is possible or even what is required for survival. Senior leaders are perplexed with their organizations inability to meet performance targets. They are mystified with the lack of organizational competence to deal with the reality of the organization challenges and conflicts. They are perplexity with ongoing quality issues and concerns. They do not understand the internal cultural resistance to change. They do not accept leaders of department who can not change the status quo. They see that high performance teams are the exception and not the norm. They simply do not understand why the organization is not performing. The Booz/Allen/Hamilton report “A Global Check –Up: Diagnosing the health of today organizations “concludes that most organizations are unhealthy. This means that they are not able to perform because they have within them unhealthy departments that affect the entire organizational performance. The report further states that that there is a fundamental disconnect between corporate executives and the rest of the organization. Senior executives see their organization as healthy whereas the rest of the organization sees it as unhealthy. The report also concludes that in most companies with this problem, the people in the organization do not communicate this with their leaders. How could this be? What is the issue? Performance issues would seem to point to unhealthy organizations as the report suggests. Why is it that the organization and leadership are not aligned on issues of performance? Is corporate leadership blind to the realities or does the organization exaggerate the problem? Where is the reality here? What can be done? Perhaps a fairy tale can shed some light on this situation. In 1837, Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen, wrote a wonderful fairy tale which he titled The Emperor's New Clothes. It is the story of the Ruler of a distant land who was so enamored of his appearance and his clothing that he had a different suit for every hour of the day. Some modern day corporations have inadvertently created leaders with the same persuasion of the ruler in the fairy tale. These leaders live in the political arena where looking good is more important than the organization being good. Every moment is an opportunity to place themselves and their departments in the eye of more influential leaders who can make or break careers with a comment. So looking up in the organization becomes as important if not more important than looking after business. One day two rogues arrived in town, claiming to be gifted weavers. They convinced the Emperor that they could weave the most wonderful cloth, which had a magical property. The clothes were only visible to those who were completely pure in heart and spirit. The Emperor was impressed and ordered the weavers to begin work immediately. The rogues, who had a deep understanding of human nature, began to feign work on empty looms. Minister after minister went to view the new clothes and all came back exhorting the beauty of the cloth on the looms even though none of them could see a thing. The employees call this the flavor of the day. The reality of the whole organization rests within the whims of the leader. They believe that corporate leadership, like the ruler in the fairy tale, is out of touch with reality. They believe that leadership live in ivory towers that look from the outside in whereas they are on the inside looking out. Regardless of who is right, the organization is misaligned. These ministers who wait on the corporate leaders are caught between corporate leadership and the corporation. In the world of political correctness, it is often more favorable for these ministers to comply with the outside in approach than to express the concerns of the people in the organization. This causes a fundamental breach of integrity not only within these leaders but in the relationship between corporate leadership and their organization. As a result, new programs are adopted with the assumption and expectation by corporate leadership that the organization is healthy. These new programs contain systems and practices that many instances conflict with existing programs and the new is mixed in with the old. Ministers demand performance from their people who are working with systems that were unhealthy to begin with and are now interwoven with new untested systems and practices. The people seek to minimize the chaos of conflicting priorities and they offer quiet but tenacious resistance in very way but openly to the new program. Finally a grand procession was planned for the Emperor to display his new finery. The Emperor went to view his clothes and was shocked to see absolutely nothing, but he pretended to admire the fabulous cloth, inspect the clothes with awe, and, after disrobing, go through the motions of carefully putting on a suit of the new garments. Under a royal canopy the Emperor appeared to the admiring throng of his people - - all of whom cheered and clapped because they all knew the rogue weavers' tale and did not want to be seen as less than pure of heart. But, the bubble burst when an innocent child loudly exclaimed, for the whole kingdom to hear, that the Emperor had nothing on at all. He had no clothes. This is where the rubber hits the road. The new flavor of the month is reviewed by the ruler in front of the people. The new program has not accomplished what it was set out to do. Everyone knows it, even the emperor, but no one want to say a word out of the fear of looking stupid in front of everyone else. People clap and celebrate. Except of the voice of a child, the emperor and his people would not have admitted such an obvious truth. This ancient fairy tale provides some insight into the questions senior leaders often ask. The organization seeks to be politically correct out of fear of looking stupid. People of all persuasions within the organization learn is better to agree in public and proceed in private. They know that looking good is as important as being good. Meanwhile the leadership of the organization proceeds unaware of the public humiliation it could bring upon the organization and themselves. Does this seem too simple to be true? Read on How does this work in modern day business. It is quite easy. In many companies I have worked with, I heard a very similar story. People tell me that they would follow what management told them even if it was the wrong thing to do. They tell me that people who openly disagreed with senior managers were viewed as trouble makers and that any public disagreement with leadership was the way to a very short career. They tell me that people who did exactly what they were told were viewed as loyal workers who were rewarded with long careers. They know that they had made a tradeoff for job security but they look elsewhere to fulfill their potential. It was for them a game of survival. If you played the game, you survived. In one place the people joking referred to the company as “groundhog day”. They called it that because in their opinion, nothing ever changed. They were fighting the same problems every day and no matter who was the leader or what the flavor of the month was, the day to day reality was the same. They even joked that leadership was the same person with a different face. In one company we visited about integrity in action, the president invited me to observe his senior team in action. This team consisted of the managers of the various departments-operations, materials management, quality, safety etc. He wanted to know where his team stood on the three courses of action that could be taken to resolve a major problem. I was to be the witness to a process conducted with integrity. After the team was settled, the president restated the problem and presented three courses of action to his team. The team dismissed one immediately as being too expensive and impossible to implement. The dialog centered on options A and B. The team leaned towards option A while the president seemed to be supporting option B. After some debate the president dropped his support for “Option B” and submitted to the team’s decision that “option A” was the best course of action. The president smiled at me and I took the notes on what integrity in action looks like in this company. As I walked out the door at the end of the day, the plant manger joined me in the parking lot. He asked me about the meeting and I told him I was impressed. He told me that since I was investigating integrity and since he was leaving the company, he felt free to tell me the truth. His comments were startling. He told me that before the meeting took place, the management team was made aware of the president’s commitment to corporate to implement “option A”. The management team then huddled in the morning without the president to consider what needed to be done. In their minds “option B” was the best solution while “option A” was the political solution. The team had then agreed to support Option A as they knew through experience anyone who disagreed with the president was in serious trouble. In this case it was potentially career ending because the president and the corporation had already agreed to this course of action. As to the president favoring option B in the meeting, the plant manger laughed and Said “The president makes up his mind before he enters any meeting. He likes everyone to think he is a modern leader but he is not, it is always about him and what makes him look good. Our only job is figuring out the correct thing to say to support the way he sees himself.” I walked away stunned. What seemed real was not real. So, how can integrity help organizations performance? Integrity is a force that comes within and builds momentum in the world. Personal integrity starts with a commitment to change and a willingness to be open to what change will bring. Integrity is developed through conflict and challenges. Facing these challenges head on develops humility and a deep inner respect for yourself and the people around integrity teaches people to listen to themselves and to how other see the world. As integrity purifies character, the insight into issues and problems clarifies and people are able to see reality for what it is. This allows then to see the opportunities and threats in every situation as they objectively exist. With this knowledge, people with integrity can make good decisions. They learn that sometimes risk is needed and are not afraid to take that risk if it is the right thing to do. They learn from their failures and build on their success. This is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom builds trust with people inside and outside of the organization. This aligns people and processes together to meet customer demand and build successful organizations. Without integrity, reality is unknown, wisdom is a lost opportunity and performance never achieves what is possible. The opposite is also true. A lack of integrity leads to blind spots that limit growth and potential. Leaders who stop developing integrity become suspicious of others and their motives; they seek to impose their perception of reality. They harden their stances on strategy and tactics and limit their ability to be truly open to change and growth. The people will follow even if it is not the right thing to do. This is a disease within the organization. A disease is not fatal unless it is left untreated. Leadership can cure this disease not by adopting new programs but simply by opening themselves to act with integrity. It does not have to start with the top. It can start anywhere and it doesn’t have to be done over night. A leader has to simply create a climate where people can talk and work together. This allows people to face reality and to create solutions that will work because they are based in reality. Integrity allows leaders to develop wisdom which leads to trust. Trust builds a climate of acceptance and growth. This leads to organizational integrity which becomes the standard for all systems and structure and the interaction of the whole organization.