What's It All About? arcticle 17

A  friend in grief recently asked me to share my thoughts on the frailty  of life. This issue is probably the most difficult of all life's  questions to face. For most of us, it is wrought with confusion of  purpose and definition in addition to a desire to indefinitely continue  our physical life. We are, for the most part, limited to knowledge of  physical definitions. We can define our bodies. We know that we are  alive. We don't know what makes our minds work, why we feel. We can  replace a heart or mend a limb, but, we are seldom able to fix a mind.  Spirit is beyond comprehension. We don't know what death is or means. 

As  children, we tried to contemplate the end of space. It must end, but,  it can't end. Could this dilemma be one of trying to limit spiritual  concepts to physical concepts? Perhaps our attempt to limit God to what  we now of him and life is the reason we struggle with understanding our  purpose and the meaning of life and death as we know it. During my years  as a church pastor, I often conducted funeral services and counseled  grieving families. I also prayed with and held hands with some of my  parishioners as they past on from this life. These painful experiences  helped me gain some greater understanding of what life and death means. I  once observed to a funeral director that the passing of the last parent  of a family seems to be the most difficult for the progeny of the dead.  He affirmed my observation. He continued with a more profound  observation. He said, "The most difficult experiences are with  nonbelievers. For them, there is nothing more. Their grief manifests in  emotional despair and anguish." 

Many  years ago, the Archbishop of London was visiting a dying child. As he  crossed the dimly lit room to the side of the little girl, he asked her  if there was something he could do for her. She pleaded, "Please help  me. I am afraid to die." He asked her if she would like for him to carry  her into the sunlit living room where everything was bright and  cheerful. She replied that she would enjoy that very much. He smiled and  said," That is what God is about to do for you. He will soon be  reaching down with his loving arms and lift you to a more beautiful  place where you can be happy forever." 

Our  struggle with the frailty of life is not really necessary. We have  spent our physical lives focused on providing for comfort in this life.  We work, build houses, gain education, develop friendships, become  popular, gain wealth, keep ahead of the Joneses and etc., all for this  life. If we can focus on life in its entirety, not limit our beliefs and  values to what we see, and stop trying to reduce the power of God to  our limited knowledge, the frailty of life becomes almost irrelevant.  There is nothing to fear. There is, after all, only one important thing  to cling to. That is love. 



Jesus  said, "The first commandment is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God  is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all  your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is  this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment  greater than these." 

Memories  stir between senior moments for old retired guys like me. Occasionally I  record them in an email. I would like to share today's flashback with  my friends in Christ: 

I  was student pastor of a Presbyterian church in southern Illinois. Three  days a week I traveled to a college sixty miles from our manse. One of  my parishioners suffered the death of a brother. The brother had been  living in the college town. Their mother, a member of another church,  lived in the town of my church. 

The  man left three small children and a working wife. The mother of the  deceased often asked to ride with me to the college town to visit and  care for her grandchildren. 

Our  first trip included a very interesting conversation. Mrs. Jones  inquired of this twenty-two year old pastor, "Reverend Robling what do  you think of the World Council of Churches?" I viewed the question with  the same caution as, "Yes or no, have you stopped beating your wife?" I  was proud of myself for having the quickness of wit to answer her  question with a question, "Mrs. Jones what do you think of the World  Council of Churches?" 

She  quickly replied, "I think it is a communist organization." I responded  that her revelation was interesting and inquired as to how she had  reached that conclusion. She said, "It is run by the Jews and you know  that all of them Jews is Catholic." Astounded by her confidence in the  logic of her conclusions, I inquired as to the source of her  information. She replied, "Brother Lester told us so at church Sunday."  Mrs. Jones was offering her newly discovered knowledge in the name of  our Lord. 

Thirty-seven  years have past and unfortunately we are still faced with an  overwhelming abundance of the same ignorance and anger based information  and attitudes as were manifested in Mrs. Jones' comments. My heart  aches with concern that there are too many of them for us to reach. We  must devise ways to reach larger numbers of them. If not us, who? 

As long as we have  breath, we will continue to bring the good news of Christ's love to as  many as we can reach. But, our joy will always be tempered with sorrow  for the ones we cannot reach. Our rest will not satisfy as long as  passion burns within us for bringing the comfort of a saving knowledge  of our Lord to angry hearts. 

Thank you for making this world a better place. 

Peace, --dan 

DEVELOPING A SYSTEM FOR CHANGE article 20 incomplete

by Daniel P. Robling, President of American Business Consultants, Inc.


Increasing  industrialization of other nations along with technological  improvements in communications and transportation has brought  international competition to almost every American industry. Most  industries have struggled with meeting the challenges and in some cases  failure has occurred. With the industrial development of countries like  China, the potential for large additional markets is promising. It has  been said that the propensity for consumption of goods and services by  China alone has the potential to exceed the entire world's supply of  goods for fifty years. Several new trade agreements negotiated by the  United States government have created a greater need for U. S.  industries to understand the requirements of international competition  to improve its competitive position. Process and product technologies  are forever changing in current and new competitive markets.  Availability of scarce resources is constantly increasing and  decreasing. Frequent changes taking place in business requirements  throughout the world are creating a need for finding new ways of  conducting business. New results are required. Changing work and trade  practices is often essential to become and remain competitive.  Benchmarking and developing and implementing systems for change are  tools for successfully changing work and trade practices. 

There are several ways to become knowledgeable about successful  foreign industrial practices. A company may purchase a foreign company  known for achieving excellence through new paradigm approaches. Employ  the practice of benchmarking, pursue available academic resources, or  hire consultants who have knowledge of successful competitive practices.  

There are limitations to these methods of becoming knowledgeable  about foreign industrial practices. Acquisition of another company may  be cost prohibitive for an average company. Knowledge gained from  benchmarking is very desirable but the process is time consuming and  expensive. Valuable leaders or workers may be attending to immediate  needs and unavailable for travel. There is usually some time delay in  the development of resources for teaching and learning to compete  through academic methods. 

Consultants who have first hand knowledge of an industry, extensive  benchmarking experience, management experience, training experience, and  education are often available. For a few hundred thousand dollars, or  sometimes less, a company may take advantage of knowledge that cost  millions of dollars to acquire initially. 

American Business Consultants, Inc. is one of many companies that  provide manufacturing companies with information and training for  competing and achieving excellence in a changing market. It shares  knowledge based on highly effective manufacturing leadership  experiences, extensive worldwide benchmarking, academic knowledge, and  as training providers. The company has developed and teaches a  management system that is based on its knowledge of best competitive  practices. The company provides information based on benchmarking  research conducted in Europe, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and the United  States. 

Benchmarking in industry is the practice of conducting technological  and organizational practice exchange visits with other companies. It  often occurs even between competitive companies. The purpose of  benchmarking is to learn best practices. Each company expects to learn  something from the experience that will enhance its opportunities for  improvement. 

Benchmarking has come prominently into vogue during the past decade.  Prior to that time, it was very difficult, if not impossible, to arrange  benchmarking visits. Most companies within the U. S. were reluctant to  have open visitations and extensive information sharing with domestic  competitors. Successes were usually protected from all competitors.  Details of manufacturing processes, statistical information, and  effective management practices were not available outside a company. 

During the current decade, most company and union leaders in major  companies have participated in benchmarking trips. It is frequently done  internationally. It requires a lot of time and investment. The  dividends can be as great as a participant's ability and willingness to  listen, learn, and change. As world markets expand and demand grows for  greater and more diverse supplies of goods and services, companies are  eagerly reaching out to share and learn new technological and management  behavioral information. 

American Business Consultants, Inc. benchmarking has revealed that  there is nothing particularly fancy about the organizations and  processes in the world's greatest companies. They do share common  threads. They all have similar senior management behaviors, are process  focused, emphasize training, measurement, communications, and have  effective human resource systems. Plants and processes are frequently  kept simple and are less modern than many less successful competitors. 

Research indicates that similarities in interests, concerns,  technologies, and fears are basically the same throughout the world.  Businesses are at various stages of transition, but they are virtually  discovering and moving in the same directions. 

First, businesses are discovering that their greatest assets are the  minds and ideas of their people. Within every large business  organization the knowledge is present for making the company great. The  obstacle to realizing greatness is the failure to share knowledge and  vision between the employees with the answers and the senior managers or  other decision- making member of a company. The world's most successful  companies share a common characteristic regarding communications. In  those companies communication is two way. It includes listening by  management and input from all quarters of the organization. Most  traditional companies must greatly diminish the adversarial positions of  management and labor for communications to flow in both directions. 

Listening is the most critical management skill. It must include more  than managers listening to other managers and engineers. Real listening  includes an opportunity for everyone in an organization to be heard. 

Many American companies have gone through catastrophic experiences  and some have disappeared while trying to adjust to changing markets and  competition. Most of their grief and tragedy could have been  circumvented if those organizations had systems for listening and  sharing visions and ideas. 

Second, businesses are learning that allowing people performing work  some control over how they function creates a feeling of ownership,  results in increased dedication of energies, yields greater results, and  provides more satisfaction. 

Third, businesses are discovering that combined teams of management,  production, maintenance, and engineering armed with database  information, tracking and control while functioning in business units  (profit centers) often brings phenomenal success. 

Fourth, they are learning that using statistical approaches to  controlling manufacturing processes is critical to maximizing quality.  Guess work is removed, resulting in consistently manufactured products  that function the same time after time. This enables better analysis of  how well products are engineered and how best to improve them for  enhanced function and reliability. 

Fifth, they are discovering the need for lean management and lean  administrative organizations. They are learning as they try new ways of  operating, that too much management and administration creates  non-value- added work and frequently causes misuse of scarce resources. 

Sixth, they are learning that participation in developing and  expanding international markets can create greater demand for goods and  services. Companies can grow, markets can expand, and more jobs can be  provided by expanding international trade. 

Seventh, They are discovering that cooperation between management and  labor must be developed and nurtured to achieve excellence in quality,  efficiency, and profits. 

Strong feelings about change are universal regardless of country,  company, plant, leader or worker. And yet, The most significant  pressures confronting companies and leaders today are for change as they  strive to survive new market forces. The most difficult lesson for  companies and leaders to embrace is the fact that everyone in their  organization, each role, product, and process must change. Culture and  personalities of those individuals involved influence the stage of  development of change within organizations. 

Change is usually painful, even when for better, and requires a great  deal of planning and facilitation. Management and labor leaders must  first cultivate a consensus regarding need and implementation. Leaders  should be trained to become sensitive to what workers and supervisors  are feeling as their work environment changes. Leaders should understand  that ways of the past represent the ways people have survived and  achieved perceived success in the workplace. 

In The Fifth Discipline Peter M. Senge said, "Yesterday's successes  may cause tomorrow's failures." Leaders who look backwards to lead into  the future will walk into walls and bang their heads until they fail.  Those who follow them will fail with them. "Getting back to basics" is a  phrase frequently used in business when things are not going well. It  means doing things the way they have been done in the past. This is  often the pathway to continued failures in business. 

The characteristics essential for competing as individuals and as  companies must include versatility and a propensity for change wherever  and whenever change is required. Leaders must look ahead and plan for  change. 

Resistance to change is usually the most detrimental characteristic a  manager or company possesses. Facilitating overcoming resistance to  change is probably the most difficult of all management skills to  acquire. A company's personality and values will ultimately reflect the  attitude of its leaders. It is, therefore, extremely important to  provide essential training and facilitation for leaders to become new  paradigm leaders (agents for change). 

Learning organizations that systematically embrace change and  encourage risk will not only own the future, they will design the future  in which all organizations will have to compete. The basic building  blocks for building an excellent organization must be systematically put  in place. Every member of the organization must help create the system,  build the system, understand the system, and help maintain the system.  Peter Senge said in The Fifth Discipline, "There is something in all of  us that loves to put together a puzzle, that loves to see the image of  the whole emerge. The beauty of a person, or a flower, or a poem lies in  seeing all of it. So it should come as no surprise that the  unhealthiness of our world today is in direct proportion to our  inability to see it as a whole." System thinking must look beyond  personalities and events to the underlying structures that shape  individual actions and create conditions where types of events become  likely. 

Our ultimate system for excellence must include each member of the  organization participating in the development of and the ownership of an  overall mission (understanding who we are), vision (who or what we want  to become), a strategic business plan (how we are going to become who  or what we want to become), meaningful goals (objectives to support our  plan), measurements (for knowing how we are progressing towards our  vision), access to all essential information (for developing plans to  use scarce resources wisely), team identity (a sense of importance to  the team), and pride in being a part of the whole. 

Senge reminded us that, "When you ask people about what it is like  being part of a great team, what is most striking is the meaningfulness  of the experience. People talk about being part of something larger than  themselves, of being connected or generative. It becomes quite clear  that, for many, their experiences as part of the truly great teams stand  out as singular periods of life lived to the fullest. Some spend the  rest of their lives looking for ways to recapture that spirit." The  feeling of being part of a great team is described by Senge as  "metanoia", a shift in mind. 

Implementing a system cannot be left to chance. Each feature of a  system must have supporting subsystems (building blocks) that assist  each member of the organization in contributing to the success of its  team. 

The first building block is establish trust. Stephen R. Covey made a  very important point in his 7 Behaviors of Highly Effective People by  saying that "Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings  out the very best in people." Peter F. Drucker in his book Managing for  the Future said, "The final requirement of effective leadership is to  earn trust." He went on to say, "Trust is the conviction that the leader  means what he says. It is a belief in something very old-fashioned  called integrity." The key element to establishing trust is to be  honest. Honesty is found in all truly successful people and processes. 

The literature is clear, there is no shortcut to personal and  organizational integrity. There is no permanent personal gratification  and organizational success without it. Leaders must be able to trust  subordinates, customers, peers and those to whom they report. All  stakeholders must in turn be able to trust a company's leaders. Cheating  to win actually results in losing. 

Authors James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner point out, "honest people  have credibility and that's what gives leaders the trust and confidence  of their people." Fifteen thousand employees surveyed by the authors  were asked to prioritize twenty characteristics of leadership.  Eighty-seven percent rated honesty first. 

In Understanding Organizational Integrity, Lynn Sharp Paine says,  "Attention to ethics is increasingly seen as a fundamental aspect of  organizational leadership." She goes on to say that the main explanation  for increased attention to ethics is "that many have come to regard a  value system based on sound ethical principles as a foundation of  organizational excellence." To more fully understand the importance of a  strong ethical framework for organizations, beyond the economic success  of organizations, we must understand that the consequences of  organizational decisions are frequently felt beyond the confines of the  organization. 

People tend to emulate others whom they perceive as being successful.  That emulation goes beyond the workplace. Organizational leaders are  usually found on the board of directors of organizations such as United  Way hospitals, banks, Junior Achievement, Boy Scouts, schools, the arts,  churches and most philanthropic organizations. Inconsistent displays of  values by leaders between their business roles and their lives in their  communities send mixed signals to those who are watching them, learning  from them, and following them. Organizations, communities, and  individuals that follow conflicted leaders are likely to enjoy less than  optimal success. 

The difference in growing beyond being a "good" company and becoming a  "great" company depends on its collective will and abilities to  continue to strengthen its ethical framework. Organizations that want to  become great must first learn to develop, communicate, and implement  strategies that balance the results of addressing ethical dilemmas.  Leaders must be sincere, consistent, rid organizations of fear, and  include everyone in the organization in establishing and nurturing  trust. 

The second building block is the development of shared mission and  vision. An organization's statements about its mission and vision can be  developed in workshops. These workshops are most effective when  facilitated by the leaders of the organization, leading by example, and  serving the members. Every member of the organization should be allowed  to participate in the development of mission and vision. 

First, it is necessary to provide all necessary information to  promote understanding of what the company must achieve for survival. The  information must fully explain the threats and opportunities, as they  are known. 

It is important to provide group dynamics training to every person.  Each needs to understand the fundamentals of brainstorming, consensus  decision making, importance of use of data, and group behaviors  (functions and anti-functions). Depending on the size of the  organization, a workshop or series of workshops may be set up that  includes all members of the organization. They should be allowed to  develop the mission and vision. Taking part in the workshops will  promote understanding, ownership, and dedication to successfully  achieving the mission and vision. Senge says, "Shared vision is a force  in people's hearts, a force of impressive power." It makes people want  to learn and change to achieve the organization's dreams. It sets the  stage for metanoia. 

Building shared vision goes beyond team building. It includes team  learning. Team learning includes learning how to learn. It also requires  self-knowledge, patience, and becoming exceptionally proficient. To  truly share vision, an organization must recognize the uniqueness of  each of its members. It must nurture that uniqueness and encourage the  risks that prizing uniqueness entails. Shared vision creates the courage  to step beyond the known to get to what might be. 

The third building block is regular solicitation of ideas from every  member of the organization. In The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, Senge  said, "At the heart of building shared vision is the task of designing  and evolving ongoing processes in which people at every level of the  organization, in every role, can speak from the heart about what really  matters to them and be heard by senior management and each other. The  quality of this process, especially the amount of openness and genuine  caring, determines the quality and power of the results." 

Properly conducted skip-level meetings provide an opportunity for  everyone in the organization to speak from the heart. Every  leader/manager at every level should set aside blocks of time each day  for meeting with individuals selected randomly from the organization.  The selections should be made from every level within the scope of a  leader's responsibility. 

The meetings should be very informal, not conducted from behind a  desk. Not using a formal agenda is best. It is preferable to be dressed  in non- threatening attire (no tie, casual if possible). Introductions  should be friendly and informal. 

Starting the meeting by recognizing the employee's contributions and  importance to the team usually reduces anxiety. Using the meeting to  learn about the individual as a person as well as an associate shows  personal interest in the employee. Finding out what the employee is  interested in, what he/she likes and dislikes is a good approach. Asking  about his/her life and work experiences will usually help the employee  to begin to participate in the discussion. The leader should share  information about his/her interests and experiences. 

The leader should ask if there is anything that he/she, the leader,  can do to help the employee accomplish tasks more safely, more  enjoyably, with greater ease, with improved quality or efficiency. The  leader should take extensive notes as the employee shares ideas. 

In closing it is important to thank the employee for his/her help,  assure him/her that his/her ideas will receive follow up, and set a time  or establish a method for feedback to the employee. He/she should be  told how to initiate future skip-level meetings. Follow up on  implementation of ideas is crucial to this process. 

It is best to give the employee opportunities for participating in  the implementation of his ideas when possible. Providing feedback to the  employee preferably at his/her workstation is important. He/she should  be praised for his/her contributions. Explaining why some ideas could  not be successfully accomplished will promote understanding. His/her  leader should thank him/her again for his/her help and tell him/her that  he/she is looking forward to their next meeting. 

The fourth building block is development of a systematic approach to  goal development and measurements relative to goal achievement for  salaried and management employees. Having a goal system for salaried and  management employees is critical to maximizing the achievements,  productivity and satisfaction of employees. 

Few companies or managers actually use goal systems. They often  banter about buzzwords that indicate they are using systems, but even  where a goal system exists, it is seldom employed effectively. The main  reason for the lack of effective goal system implementation is it forces  face to face communications regarding personal performance. 

Most managers and employees are not comfortable with exchanging  criticism or praise. The degree of comfort one feels in giving praise is  usually equal to the comfort felt by that person when receiving praise.  This same dynamic applies to giving criticism face to face except in  the presence of anger. Hence, anger or threats in work environments most  frequently accompany criticism. Unfortunately, criticism is seldom  helpful in that context. 

Peter F. Drucker in Managing In a Time of Great Change said, "The new  organizations need to go beyond senior-junior polarities to a blend  with sponsor and mentor relations. In the traditional organization (the  organization of the last one hundred years) the skeleton, or internal  structure, was a combination of rank and power. In the emerging  organization, it has to be mutual understanding and responsibility."  Developing a goal system should be accomplished in a series of friendly  and non-threatening meetings wherein the leader assumes the role of  sponsor and mentor allowing free and open discussion to take place. The  meetings should include only the manager and subordinate for whom the  goals are to be developed. 

The first meeting should be one of recognizing some of the  contributions the employee is making and the need for some measure of  formal recognition for his or her accomplishments. The person should be  informed that his/her goals would always contain three elements. The  goals will be achievable, agreed upon, and dynamic. Goals that do not  possess these three qualities are useless except as tools for  disciplinary action. 

The person should be asked to prepare a list of each of his/her  duties for the second meeting. He/she should also be requested to  provide a check mark or other designation beside each measurable item.  Initially, meetings should be held weekly at a mutually agreed upon day  and time. A time that will be most convenient and least likely to be  interrupted by other meeting requirements should be established. This  will provide an opportunity to give the employee regular personal  attention and allow the employee time to give feedback, contribute  ideas, and express concerns. 

During the second meeting when the employee presents his/her list of  duties, the parties should mutually agree upon a ranking for each of  his/her measurable duties. It is important to take plenty of time to  discuss the relative importance of each item until a consensus is  reached. 

The leader must not dictate. Coaching is appropriate, however, in the  absence of consensus, using the employee's opinion of the ranking of an  individual item is acceptable. An assignment for the employee's third  meeting is to determine which duties he/she believes should be included  in his/her goals. The employee should be given latitude to determine  whether the top five will be used as goals or if a sixth or seventh will  also be included. Open discussion is essential to the process but the  employee should make the decision to include a goal item. 

During the third meeting, there should be a discussion of the  relative importance of each of the decided upon goals. Agreement and  application of some percentage value to each of the goals should be  achieved. For example, the number one ranked item may be deemed to be  forty percent of the total importance of the selected items. The second  item may be given a value of twenty percent. The third item may be given  ten percent and so forth. Consensus is to be reached on the percentage  value of each goal and a decision is to be reached regarding the maximum  number of points that may be earned each week. At least one hundred  points is desirable. The manager should have decided what the annual  appraisal ranking descriptions would be before the meeting. 

Most large companies have formal appraisal rating forms that include  numerical or descriptive categories. In the absence of rating  categories, establishing them and making them the same for every  evaluated employee is critical. For example, a high rating might be  "ten" or "outstanding". A low appraisal rating may be "zero" or  "unsatisfactory". The designations are important only as they provide  consistency to the process throughout the organization. The manager or  company also prescribes the number of points required for earning each  designated appraisal rating. The employee should next be requested to  prepare performance charts for the fourth meeting that reflect current  performance for each of his/her chosen goals. 

The fourth meeting should begin with discussing the fact that current  performance is obviously attainable. Seeking agreement that the current  performance will fall within the satisfactory or median range is  necessary. Discussing and reaching consensus on the number of earned  points that would be required for future performance attainment to fall  within higher and lower appraisal ranges should be accomplished. It is  important to consider that the goals must be dynamic so it is all right  to try a few weeks at almost any point range. A formal record system for  keeping track of the employee's goal performance is essential. The  average weekly score for the appraisal year will be the employee's  appraisal rating for that year. In all future weekly meetings reviewing  the validity of the requirements for scores and reaching consensus on  any changes that are to be made must occur. Goals may be adjusted up or  down by consensus. It is important to remind the person being appraised  that continuous improvement is essential for the organization to achieve  and maintain excellence. 

The weekly meetings should be used to recognize accomplishments. It  is not wise to look for miracles. Small improvements over time add up to  significant improvements. These meetings should also be used to  encourage improvement in specific areas where improvement is not  occurring and to ask how the leader can help the person to become more  successful in that particular goal area. The leader should take notes as  ideas are discussed that require his/her help. High priority should be  given to doing what is needed to do to help and give feedback on those  issues in the next meeting. Improvements should always be recognized and  rewarded. 

The purpose of a goal system is to make sure each employee has the  opportunity and support to excel. This system removes subjectivity from  the appraisal process. The employee has chosen and defined his/her  goals. He/she has determined the value of each of his/her goals, defined  how to measure his/her goal progress, and tracks his/her own  performance to his/her goals. He/she is free to develop supporting plans  to achieve an excellent rating. The system assures regular upper  management recognition and support for him/her. The employee always  knows where he/she stands and why. The annual rating is no surprise and  the person being rated has full ownership and buys into the rating. 

The employee must be encouraged to develop a business plan that shows  how continuous improvement will be achieved. Well-conducted goal  meetings will provide important opportunities for the employee and will  actually become viewed as welcomed experiences. 

The fifth building block is development of specific plans to support  individual and team needs. After the goals of a staff member have been  established, Specific plans must be developed for achieving an  outstanding or excellent rating. Plan items should include a description  of the action to be taken, who will take the action, when the action  will be completed, expected results, and the expected value of  successful implementation of the plan item. 

It is essential to encourage the employee to be ambitious with plans,  take risks, and expect a failure rate of approximately fifty-percent.  If the failure rate is low, the plan will probably not facilitate the  achievement of maximum improvements. The employee should be guided to  look to every possible source for plan ideas. Plans may come from,  skip-level meeting notes, suggestion plans, his/her own ideas, ideas  provided by his/her supervisor, suppliers, customers, union officials,  or any other source. 

Plans should be recorded on a standard organization plan form. As  plans begin to develop, personal goal and plan review meetings should be  held on alternating weeks. Using the personal plan reviews to  encourage, recognize, praise, and coach the planner will become an  important function of leadership. The meetings should be supportive and  positive. The leader should use the meetings as opportunities to  determine what he/she needs to do to help the employee achieve  excellence. 

The sixth building block is to provide support, resources,  recognition, and rewards for the efforts of individuals and teams  through mini- operations reviews. A leader should have his/her  individual staff members along with their staff members present their  entire team's plans in an operations review format every four to six  weeks. They should show actual performance to goals in every category  where they have established performance goals. They should show their  plans for achieving goals. 

The purpose of the review is to provide opportunities for praise,  recognition, encouragement, coaching, and for the team to appeal to  higher management for resources. All of the teams within an organization  should meet in an operations review forum at least quarterly. In  addition to providing previously mentioned benefits, this exercise  should provide information sharing regarding successes and failures. 

It is important for leaders not to cancel goal meetings, business  plan reviews, skip level meetings, or mini operation reviews. Canceling  makes a negative statement about the importance of people, their goals,  plans, and ideas. The success of the organization as it employs the  system depends on the leader's responses. 

Leaders should never criticize during skip level meetings, goal  meetings, business plan reviews, or mini operation reviews. If criticism  is necessary, separate meetings should be scheduled for focusing on  problems rather than individuals. Even if an employee is the problem, it  is important to ask the employee for ideas regarding identifying and  solving the problem. Asking the employee for help in solving the problem  will usually lead to ownership and resolution. 

Companies do not fail because of poor followership; they fail because  of poor leadership. It has been said that the difference in leaders and  managers is that managers do things right and leaders do the right  things. As customer requirements, technologies, workforce sophistication  and emerging competition changes and evolves, leadership styles of the  past are less effective for business survival. The essence of great  leadership for the long term begins with dedication to servicing the  led. Robert Greenleaf, said in his essay The Servant Leader, "A new  moral principle is emerging which holds that the only authority  deserving one's allegiance is that which is freely and knowingly granted  by the led to the leader in response to, and in proportion to, the  clearly evident servant stature of the leader." 

At some point in the future, every organization that does not provide  systems for its people to develop and own its mission (who it is),  vision (where it wants to go), and a plan to get there (strategic  business plan) will likely fail to achieve excellence. Just as doing  things the same old way and expecting different results is insanity.  Expecting an organization to prosper and maintain its prosperity with  management thinking alone is absurd. Every organization should decide  how it will gain understanding of the underlying reasons for the  successes of its most excellent competitors successes. Each company has a  responsibility to all of its stakeholders to understand its competition  and to develop systems for achieving excellence. Many companies will  purchase the service of a business management consulting company as a  quick, inexpensive way to gain insight into the required changes.  Intelligent change has to be an orchestrated operation.