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A Stellar Engagement

Friday, February 27, 2009 by Slaughter Development

Recently, Slaughter Development met with Barbara Jones of Stellar Training. She asked one of the most difficult questions about methodology engineering: what happens when people are afraid that increases in productivity will cost them their jobs?

This topic is consistent with Barbara’s extensive background in instructional design. Training requires change, which means resistance. Training requires adapting the mind to new ideas. Learning new skills means accepting that old ways are obsolete and new approaches are more effective.

The revelation that training enables us to avoid obsolescence can be frightening. A Reader’s Digest article reminds us about the recent history of work:

In 1972, telecommunications companies and other businesses employed 394,000 telephone operators. Today, that number is 52,000, an 87 percent job loss. Another casualty are clerks who process loan applications. They’re easily replaced by software that does the routine math, and so their ranks are expected to fall by 24,000 over the next several years. And, with self-serve gas stations, ATMs and e-tail sites, productivity is on the rise throughout a broad array of service industries…In the near future, even the trip to work will be revolutionized by compumation: Certain New York City subway lines will be driven by computers instead of train operators.

Even the words used in these old jobs seem antiquated: telephone operator, gas station attendant and book keeper. It might seem like our value as employees is dependent on the arrival of the next gizmo or software application to do our work for us. This belief creates fear, and that fear provides power for a resistance to change.

At Slaughter Development, we invite stakeholders to take a different view of themselves, their work and their organization. We believe that companies, non-profits and government agencies make hiring decisions because they believe in the capacity of individuals. You are more than the sum of your tasks and responsibilities—you are a force for creativity, a source of commitment and limitless potential. A machine might enable you to finish rote tasks faster but it cannot replace brilliance and instinct.

Not everyone believes they are valued at work, and many employees harbor a secret resentment or suspicion for upper management. That’s why our change model focuses directly on the stakeholders, not on company leaders. We prefer tactics over strategy,  because we believe fundamental organizational change should occur from the bottom up. No one is better positioned than the employee to lead and implement new ideas in their own workflow. We empower this transformation. Contact Slaughter Development for more information.

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

Process Automation and Morale - The local Indianapolis telephone services company, Interactive Intelligence, has announced “communications-based process automation.” The offering sounds great for management, but what about for employees? Read on »
The Worst Possible Decision - Sometimes, it’s hard to evaluate which choice is the best for your business. But it’s clear that one is always the worst: dismissing an employee. Read on »
Over-investing in BPM Technology - In an eWeek article, Laura Mooney advocates “investing” in business process management software.  Unfortunately, making yet another technology purchase will only contribute to the methodological problems in an organization. Read on »
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