Fleeting Success: In Pursuit of Sustainability
Winston Churchill is credited with saying, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” The late Prime Minister nailed it; once again!
Our journey through life, including our career is a marathon not a sprint. While we celebrate success, often at happy hour or a party, we recognize it is only a moment.
Early in this writer’s career, a multi-million-dollar deal closed after more than a year of effort. A celebration ensued. The next day the sales manager, “Asked what was next?”
Attain and Sustain
Organizational initiatives seem to procreate. In some ways like the Tribbles of the original Star Trek series. Cute furry things, the Tribbles multiple at such a rate as to almost consume the Enterprise. Only the transporter beam saves the crew.[i]
Like the rah-rah of New Year’s Resolutions, the question is not will I go to the gym in January, but will I still set foot on the treadmill in June or even March. The road to you know where is paved with good intentions. It is the sustained energy of the execution that assures more successes than failures—and that failures are teachable moments.
Culture is one of the current buzzwords, yet Cultural Transformation is the key to sustainability. Courage requires the organization to pick itself up, so to speak and continue the journey to a sustained high level of Operational Excellence.
Easy to Say
According to Forbes, in 2018 “enterprises are expected to invest $1.3 trillion (USD) in digital transformation initiatives to apply digital capabilities to improve efficiencies, increase customer value and create new monetization opportunities.” The article goes on to posit, that almost $900 billion of that spend will be wasted as goals are not attained.[ii]
Why are these projects always seemed doomed to fail? A quick Google search identifies a large body of knowledge over the years documenting these types of failure. So, the beat goes on.
Hard to Do
There is also a body of work documenting the “should do’s” of organizational transformation. In fact, this author has contributed several articles and books on this subject. Most notably, Implementing a Culture of Safety: A Roadmap for Performance Based Compliance.[iii]
A Missing Piece
There is a lot of talk about Operational Excellence, Digitalization, High Reliability Organizations, Human Factors, Safety Culture et al. As with the Forbes data, many are suffering the same fate. No wonder senior management is skeptical of new spend for more ‘Tribble-itiatives.’
For example, when a critical infrastructure sector discusses the transformation to a Safety Culture, the term is often expressed as singular, i.e., there is one industry safety culture. However, all firms have their own ecosystems consisting of multiple and sometimes disparate entities.
They have developed a culture that is a source of pride, competitive advantage, etc. Their culture differentiates each organization from their peer group.
The following figure presents the actual nature of a firm’s Safety Culture.[iv] The reality is that a large organization’s “culture” is a combination of multiple cultural dimensions. It is this ‘nature of culture’ that must be better understood if a transition process is to be successful and sustained.
Readers should note that the multi-dimension structure is
continuously changing as business, technology, and regulatory environments
impact on the Relationships, Behaviors, and Conditions of the situation.
This dynamic requires continual managerial energy and training to
sustain the change desired.
Cross Cultural Engagement
It would seem to be a daunting if not impossible task to effectively and efficiently train a large work force including relevant third-party suppliers on an ongoing basis. Of course, the cost would be prohibited as well.
Not so fast, e-learning serious games are now available to support the training requirements necessary to “sustain” the transformation. Moreover, specific scenarios can quickly be developed to meet specific organizational requirements.
The games are developed using Game Theory and Human Behavioral theories. They simulate a real-world environment and have been shown to give great results over decades. With Cloud technology, these training tools are now inexpensive and readily available to all.
Why have your Organization’s Business Transformation Initiatives Failed?
Check out our Cross Cultural Serious Game
[iv] Shemwell, Scott M. (2015, November 28). Comments and Thoughts Regarding the IAEA Technical Meeting on Developing Improvement Programmes for Safety Culture November 2-4, 2015. Vienna, Austria.
Critical Mass: Value from the RBC Framework
Nuclear physicists define the term, “critical mass” as the amount of fissile material whereby a nuclear reaction is self-sustaining. From that original definition, the construct is further developed along societal and political terms as a function of the environment and number of adopters and their interdependencies that create enough of a consensus for individual actions that sustains an undertaking.
In 1996, the author published the first of several case studies on a societal interaction model based on the Relationships, Behavior and Conditions (RBC) construct among economic actors. Previously the model was only in the domain of academia.
This blog addresses contemporary issues from the RBC perspective and whether in the present state they are sustainable or not. Many readers may be familiar with the “Innovation Adoption Curve.” RBC seeks to enlighten the causality of behaviors that cause movement towards the critical mass that generates movement along this diffusion curve.
Other Blogs Dr. Shemwell Authors
Dr. Shemwell is an author for the following 3rd party blogs.
Governing Energy Blog
BTOES Insights is the content portal for Business Transformation & Operational Excellence opinions, reports & news. Dr. Shemwell is a contributor.
Consult 2050 connects organizations with a wide range of consultants all around the world. The firm operates an online marketplace for consultancy services.
About the Author
Dr. Scott M. Shemwell has over 30 years technical and executive management experience primarily in the energy sector. He is the author of six books and has written extensively about the field of operations. Shemwell is the Managing Director of The Rapid Response Institute, a firm that focuses on providing its customers with solutions enabling Operational Excellence and regulatory compliance management. He has studied cultural interactions for more than 30 years—his dissertation; Cross Cultural Negotiations Between Japanese and American Businessmen: A Systems Analysis (Exploratory Study) is an early peer reviewed manuscript addressing the systemic structure of societal relationships.