It is critical to carve out the time to develop and challenge oneself, to listen to external exertise and to share with peers. You cannot wait for others to make the time for you to engage in learning.
In the current world scenario, which is marked by high volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA), threats are increasingly unforeseen. As organizations, we are striving for this concept of Resilience.
Resilience is one of those hot words, and like many hot business terms it can mean a few different things depending on who is using it, and that can lead to confusion. I tend to see the following uses, which are similar in theme.
The property of a material to absorb energy when deformed and not fracture nor break; in other words, the material’s elasticity.
The capacity of an ecosystem to absorb and respond to disturbances without permanent damage to the relationships between species.
An individual’s coping mechanisms and strategies.
Organizational and Management studies
The ability to maintain an acceptable level of service in the face of periodic or catastrophic systemic and singular faults and disruptions (e.g. natural disasters, cyber or terrorist attacks, supply chain disturbances).
For our purposes, resilience can be viewed as the ability of an organization to maintain quality over time, in the face of faults and disruptions. Given we live in a time of disruption, resilience is obviously of great interest to us.
In my post “Principles behind a good system” I lay out eight principles for good system development. Resilience is not a principle, it is an outcome. It is through applying our principles we gain resilience. However, like any outcome we need to design for it deliberately.
We gain resilience in the organization through levers that can be lumped together as operational and organizational.
The attributes that give resilience are the same that we build as part of our quality culture:
Competence is a combination of Capability and Skill. If I do not have the capability for the work, no amount of developmental training will be helpful. And, I don’t have the skill, you will never see my capability. Competence is a combination of both.
Interest or passion for the work will influence the amount of time for practice. The more interested I am, the more time I will spend in practice. And if I don’t practice a skill, the skill goes away, and competence diminishes.
There is also a set of required behaviors. Practice arrives with many qualities, frequency of practice, duration of practice, depth of practice, and accuracy of practice. Accuracy of practice relates to required behaviors. Practice doesn’t make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.
We are all familiar with the traditional feedback loop: you receive feedback, reflect on it, make a plan, and then take action. This means feedback is given after a series of actions have taken place. Feedback addresses a few key observations for future improvements. In a situation when actions and sequences are quite complicated and interdependent, feedback can fail to provide useful insights to improve performance. Micro-feedback potentially canbe leveraged to prevent critical mistakes and mitigate risks, which makes it a great way to build culture and drive performance.
Micro-feedback is a specific and just-in-time dose of information or insights that can reduce gaps between the desired behavioral goals and reality. Think of it as a microscope used to evaluate an individuals comprehension and behavior and prescribe micro-interventions to adjust performance and prevent mistakes.
Microfeedback, provided during the activity observed, is a fundamental aspect of the Gemba walk. These small tweaks can be adapted, and utilized to provide timely insights and easy-to-accomplish learning objectives, to drive deep clarity and stay motivated to modify their performance.
Where and when the microfeedback happens is key:
1. Task–based microfeedback focuses corrective or suggestive insights on the content of a task. To provide higher impact focus micro-feedback on the correct actions rather than incorrect performance. For example “Report this issue as an incident…”
2. Process-based micro-feedback focuses on the learning processes and works best to foster critical thinking in a complex environment. For example, “This issue can be further processed based on the decision tree strategies we talked about earlier.”
3. Self-regulation-based micro-feedback focuses on giving suggestive or directive insights helping individuals to better manage and regulate their own learning. For example, “Pause once you have completed the task and ask yourself a set of questions following the 5W2H formula.”
For microfeedback to be truly successful it needs to be in the context of a training program, where clear behavorial goals has been set. This training program should include a specific track for managers that allows them to provide microfeedback to close the gap between where the learner is and where the learner aims to be. This training will provide specific cues or reinforcement toward a well-understood task and focus on levels of task, process, or self-regulation.
During change management, provide positive micro-feedback on correct, rather than incorrect, performance. This can be very valuable as you think about sustainability of the change.
Leveraged sucessful, but well trained observers and peers, microfeedback will provide incremental and timely adjustments to drive behavior.
Culture is often the true reason for the behavior of people within an organization and it can often be deeply unconscious and not rationally recognized by most members. These ideas are so integrated that they can be difficult to confront or debate and thus difficult to change.
A critical part for improving culture is being able to measure the current situation. A great place to start is using a survey-based to gather input from employees on the current culture of quality. Some of the topic areas can include: