Monday, August 20, 2012

Mandar does not mandate

The question of how to achieve process improvement has been addressed in many ways.  As my readers know, I am strong proponent of the Lean philosophy, but there is no monopoly on good ideas.  Here is a fascinating piece from Knoweldge@Wharton about Mandar Apte, a chemical engineer who has worked at Shell for twelve years.  His idea was to add meditation to the mix to help encourage process improvement.  This has been codified in an approach called Empower.

An excerpt:

Empower's objective is to nourish the innovation culture by empowering staff to play a role in innovation. The objective is also to leverage the passion of each employee and to play any role that the employee chooses to play in this innovation set up. So, for example, innovation starts with an idea, but once the idea is conceived, there are many other roles that one needs to play. One needs to learn how to sell the idea, how to build a story. One needs to learn to build networks and circles of trust where you get good feedback to develop that idea into something else. Finally, one needs to authentically connect with people who can help bring that idea to a proof of concept. This is a very social process. Not everyone in an organization needs to be the person with the idea. You can play other supporting roles -- just like in a movie there is an actor and there are supporting actor roles. That's what Empower facilitates -- it helps you understand what role you want to play. It all begins with a state of mind in which you decide you want to play a role. This necessitates looking inward so that you can support not just yourself but people around you as well.

I think the home-grown spread aspect of Empower is a fascinating feature:

The uniqueness of Empower is that it's a grassroots initiative. Employees organize these workshops for one another at the workplace -- that's the first step. It's not mandated, but it's peer-to-peer inspired. The first step is an introduction to Empower, which is held over a lunch session. During the introduction, we discuss the innovation theory and the various roles that one can play. We also introduce some breathing and meditation exercises. The staff then chooses the second step. Someone may say, "Yes, I like the introduction session and I want to invest my time in learning more about the innovation theory as well as mind management." And the third step is, if people want to learn how to facilitate the Introduction class, they are trained and then they run the Introduction sessions at their workplace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Paul. Happy to coach anyone who wants to do a similar experiment in their organization....surely have many bytes of "what not to do"!!