By || Founder Associates & ex CLO WIPRO Ltd
It is hard not to be distracted. Every other day there is a new “finding” that promises to solve your problems. But don’t let these shiny objects come in the way of work.
You want to look for information, you will get it – lots of it. There will an equally large number of journals that will tell you that “research shows…” that you ought to be doing something. There will be an equally powerful publication that will tell you that what you just spent time learning and telling your team to implement is the equivalent of “fake news” in the world of management. You want to get on with your ever-growing To-Do list but these shiny objects keep distracting you. You are not alone.
Design-Thinking in HR
Have you tried using Design Thinking? Or more precisely, have you tried using it in HR? I have used it in many settings to help clients identify the “unsaid needs” of the employees. Here is my favorite story about using design thinking.
One of my clients used to get 100 new hires to join them every year from campus. These 100 people had to use the 4 kiosks to fill their forms and submit their college certificates. The new joinees complained that their first experience was less than positive. The CEO ordered ten kiosks to be set up to limit the waiting time.
When they opened a new campus in a small town, they got 300 new hires to join. To make the new joinee’s experience a positive one, they decided to put 30 sign up kiosks. When the new joinees landed up, the HR team was stumped. Most of them had come accompanied by their parents or other relatives. There was no place for the guests to wait. The cafeteria was not equipped to serve them either. The pride of the parents soon turned to disillusionment.
This is just the kind of problem that design thinking can solve for you. Or maybe not. That depends on which article helps you decide. FT votes in favor of Design Thinking while HBR says just the opposite: Design Thinking is fundamentally conservative and preserves the status quo What if you have a CEO who announces that Design Thinking is the big transformative idea and gets the senior leaders all trained. What if the next CEO thinks Design Thinking is a fad. What happens to all the training imparted? What happens to the investments made?
The next fad is the next drain on resources
The Wall Street Journal describes this in this article called How Bosses Waste Their Employees’ Time
“The CEO of one firm I studied, for instance, fell in love with new management concepts, such as “lean” operations, and frequently announced new companywide initiatives—often once a quarter. But those announcements typically didn’t take into account initiatives from previous quarters. Employees were often asked to drop what they were doing before and start a new mission from scratch.”
What can leaders do?
When I read the article, I found myself guilty of this problem. Not following through an already existing initiative tends to make heroes out of those who work on the new initiatives. Those who work on completing the older projects do not get appreciated as much. What can leaders do to avoid getting distracted by every new fad:
- Encourage criticism and candor. Very often skits and humor can tell the leader in hushed tones where the problem is.
- Don’t ignore them in your talent identification process. When you draw up a list of people to reward, promote or identify for plum roles, check to see if you have lined up a set of yes-persons only. That list may need scrubbing.
- Review the impact of the new projects: When you mumble vaguely that you like a new idea, it quickly becomes the flavor of the month. Check to see if your team is groaning with the workload. Avoid adding new projects without reviewing the impact on resources and skills.
WSJ likens this like mowing a lawn. “The best leaders discourage this addition sickness by praising, promoting and paying employees who remove destructive friction and waste.”
How have you dealt with the temptation of getting distracted by the next big shiny management fad? Would love to know.
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