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Is the Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

Michael Roman - Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I am in the midst of a conundrum. Clients ask me to analyze, assess, and recommend changes for improvement opportunities in their company processes. My findings, at times, shock business owners and company managers.

I educated myself in the Body-of-Knowledge for my field. I trained to become a Management Consultant, tutored by the industry experts. I maintain credentials for my field (APICS Certification and now am on the APICS ECO Committee). I have been doing Management Consulting for thirty plus years. So, why are clients shocked by the findings? After all, they ask for the analysis. I muse about this conundrum daily, sometimes when I should be asleep.

I was reading a magazine recently called, Korn Ferry Briefings. An article on Optimists and Pessimists caught my eye. The article by David Berreby suggests that situationally people are either Optimistic or Pessimistic. It reminded me of a Graduate School conversation with my Major Professor, Dr. Kelly Wells. I was in the final weeks of my Masters Work, having passed my orals and written exams and was preparing to defend my thesis paper on eye blinks (we found high correlation between eye blinks and memory types).  After some discussions, Dr. Wells asked me, “Have you always been someone who sees three sides to a coin?” I said, “If you mean when someone asks me if the glass is half-full or half- empty and I reply, well, maybe the glass is just too big, then I guess so, you brought that out in me.” He smiled and rolled his eyes!

There is something at work, within the minds of clients, when I arrive on the scene. Maybe their Optimist-Pessimist tendencies appear. Maybe they see the glass as half full and my findings threaten their inner-peace. Maybe they see the glass as half-empty and my findings goes further to threaten their inner-peace. Why do people who ask for assistance become defensive when a report states, ‘improvements in these activities will contribute to the bottom line’?

Mr. Berreby’s article supports the “inside the mind” idea. Both Optimistic and Pessimistic approaches have benefits and drawbacks.  Where Optimists see the long-range benefits, Pessimists see many dangers in activities. Optimists often fail in careful planning; Pessimists often encounter analysis paralysis.  Optimists take the ‘damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead approach’ while Pessimists fear missteps. When Optimists succeed, the cost is sometimes detrimental to the organization. When Pessimists succeed, the chosen path is sometimes very stressful to those who execute the plan. Regardless of which personality type sits in the C-Suites, Management Consultants have the skill-sets and tool-sets to assist organizations pass the challenges of Change Management.

What are your thoughts?

Lauren Wingate commented on 11-Feb-2016 11:18 AM
Mike- Thanks for prompting this topic with your post. I think with change management or management consulting, sometimes you have to ask where the request came from. Was it some executive or "top of the tower" person who ordered the analysis? Did they get cited by DCAA/DCMA? Do they know something isn't working but need help with identifying the flaws? If an organization or group/function within a larger global company goes under the microscope and they didn't request the analysis, its no wonder people go running the other way. Maybe they just want to check the box that they were evaluated, but have no intention of implementing suggestions for improvement. Sometimes its just pure ego blockage! I think whether you an optimist or pessimist, no one likes their dirty laundry hung up for all to see. I am an eternal optimist, so I can relate to forging ahead and pushing for change. In the end I believe that proper communication can save any change management project. Communicating top down AND bottom up is essential to successful transformation. You are always going to have nay-sayers along the way, but if you can effectively communicate the positives and reason for the change, eventually people will either commit or move on so that the organization can benefit. My glass will always be half-full :-)
Michael Roman commented on 11-Feb-2016 01:35 PM
Great comments, Lauren. Yes, it is the C-Suite that we speak with when we take these assignments. Ideas for "change" should come from anyone in a company. What is sometimes missing, and we do see this, is that the S-Suite has to recognize the importance of their support for that change. They should be the Optimist to support the change. At the same time, they must be the Pessimist that says, what are the pitfalls, how do we prepare for them and what do we do to overcome those potential obstacles? So, what I am saying is that the C-Suite should be comprise of people who exhibit both profiles. Person at the helm should foster the fact that the glass may be both half full and half empty and manage the organization to let both dichotomies flourish. Enjoyed reading your comments! Thanks!
Michael Roman commented on 11-Feb-2016 02:05 PM
As to the details of the report, the methodology follows Deming / Juran methodologies, APICS methodologies, Goldratt principles, or simple LEAN methodologies, whichever is appropriate to address the company's concerns. However, the preponderance of issues we see, is the inability to adopt processes and procedures that support the proper use of the client's ERP System. The ERP "System" is a true system comprised of Planning - Execution - Control processes and procedures. We can usually guarantee a 10-to-1 return on the company's investment in Manufacturing Practices. Hope that fully addresses your questions! Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

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