Sincerity vs. Manipulation
Getting ready for the 2013 TWI Summit this year in Savannah, Georgia...part of my prep is to review some of the books on my top shelf. One of them was pretty obscure up until a year or so ago: The Amazing Oversight. It took me about a year to find it when I was reading up on the descendant of Job Methods, Work Simplification, which was popularized by the likes of Allan Mogenson, Ben Graham and Lillian Gilbreth.
It was very exciting to discover that TWI never died, but took on new forms in the U.S and subsequently discovered an entire new group of writers out there taking leadership to another level.
In this collection of articles about how leadership often overlooks the need to truly involve people, I particularly liked the article, "Improvement Must be Managed" by Herbert Goodwin. In it, Goodwin lays out themes and principles of good improvement programs. There are also some pointers on things to stay away from. Here is my favorite passage:
"A sure way to lose respect is to try to manipulate people into thinking our idea is theirs. The 'tell them' approach of the authoritarian is held in low regard, but the insincerity of the manipulator who tries to 'sell' his own ideas by subterfuge rarely meets with anything by stiffening resistance. None of us likes to be 'taken in' or treated as a fool, and we resent those who try."
How many times have you heard, or have encouraged somebody to do exactly what is described above? I am guilty. Goodwin continues:
"People do not resist change as much as they do the methods of change. Actually, it can be shown with a high degree of certainty that most of us like to change and we are particularly enthusiastic about changing when we are involved in developing the innovation. We must remember that the inference of all change is criticism of things as they are and none of us likes criticism, be it constructive or otherwise. On the other hand, if everyone associated with a given activity is involved in the efforts to improve it and the managerial leader sincerely recognizes that his people can and do have ideas to contribute to the total effort, the negative aspects of the implied criticism disappear within the positive satisfiers of recognition through involvement."
How many times have you seen people embrace a real problem, come up with their own idea, put it into action and it actually stuck? When I adopted the sincerity vs. manipulation philosophy, I saw this occur more often.
This is not to be confused with somebody stealing your idea, or materials, and passing them off as their own. Although most people would encourage to share ideas with other people, there usually is a mutual benefit in doing so: stealing is the last thing that comes to mind when both parties win. For example, I made available to the public the original property of U.S. Taxpayers, the TWI materials, for people to learn from. There is a mutual benefit in doing this; some have downloaded, used the materials and shared what they learned. We both learn from this experience. Others have simply downloaded the materials and passed them off as their own. That's fine too, they are public domain materials after all - but there is no mutual benefit, which is unfortunate - this win/lose behavior doesn't maximize every person's potential to be the best they can be.
The future of TWI will be one where people collaborate in a sincere way, helping each other, bringing mutual benefit to those involved. Some would tell you that "mutual benefit" is the real meaning of kaizen which is what I hope to contribute to and share in at the TWI Summit.