Two years in the Business Excellence function using Six Sigma and leading process improvement projects opened my eyes to several realizations, some of which I refer to even today. Status quo was being challenged; there were outdated processes waiting to be changed, Manufacturing department keen to improve their output and reduce waste, Sales department demanding better working conditions so that customer service could be improved and Finance department looking to lower costs. The Leadership team needed to evolve quickly with changing times and exceed the pace of change in the work environment. Change management seemed to be the only way to go about it.
To bring about a change in any current process, we used the DMAIC model which stands for Define, Measure, Analyse, Implement and Control. It was obvious that the teams I worked with got very excited about proposing what change they want (Define) and keen to work on the new process (Implement) resulting in proposed savings, increased efficiency etc. It appeared that the least favorite part was the Measure phase. After all who wants to spend time on finding out what they already know about the process, right? Wrong. This is why.
The Measure phase requires one to look at the current process in detail and measure it “as it is”. This means breaking the main process into mini processes and establish a measure for each of them. The next step is to collect data for these measures. So by the time the team members have dissected the main process and looked at the real data provided by these measures, guess what happened? Lots of surprised looks in the conference room. Several “But I thought…”, “My figures look so different…” and similar statements were recorded. This happens because
Data is always more accurate than assumptions; and
What you think you know is almost always very different from what really is.
Now let’s apply this to another process: us.
There is always something that we want to change in our personal and professional lives. It could be lowering stress, improving efficiency, getting rid of procrastination, enhancing confidence, managing work-life balance etc. We have a general idea about our personalities, strengths and weaknesses and that is how we see ourselves in relation to these problems. We are focused on what is lacking or what we need to change but do we really see ourselves as who we are? Or have we lived with ourselves for so long that we have established assumptions which have become our truth. Assumptions that when compared to real data result in surprises, good and bad.
Like any change management process, we need to spend a considerable time on knowing who we are and where we really stand before embarking on any change. This not only provides a true baseline for the change process but also prepares us for what it takes to create a sustainable shift.
During my coaching journey, the importance of the process of self-discovery was further solidified as I saw client after client finding their true selves which allowed them to tackle the change with far more impact. In some cases, the origin of the current issue completely changed or disappeared!
As an example, I once worked with a client who lacked motivation in his current career. His proposed change was to look for a new job and that is what had prompted him to look for a coach. As we worked together, he was in a way forced to look at elements of his personality that he either wasn’t aware of or subconsciously chose not to. The coaching process allowed him to look past the blindspots and look at himself in a completely new light. In the end, what we really worked on during the coaching process was not motivation but something else entirely!
In our everyday life, we are faced with so many issues that our natural tendency is to focus on external factors to explain our fatigue and stress. In reality, it could be an internal misalignment, limiting belief(s), avoidance or subconscious unawareness that could be holding you back and the external issue is only a trigger. When you end up knowing the real “you”, work with what you have and fix what really needs to be fixed, that is when you experience the external manifestation whether it is increased efficiency, improved energy, more motivation to name a few. That is when the change you are in control of really happens!
Fizza Rizvi is an Associate Coach at SeeAre Pte Ltd. She came across coaching in 2014, which propelled her ability to handle tricky situations: be it cross-functional, multicultural situations or differences in values and/or mindsets. She is a living advocate for lifelong learning and added a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) certificate to her set of tools. Fizza stands for challenging the status quo in order to become the best version of oneself. To learn more about Fizza or SeeAre, visit www.seeare.co