November 2010

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MBM Principal Sources

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15 September 2010


David McGinnis

Andy, fair caution on the idealistic goal, I agree with it, and your taking the liberty of extrapolating confirms for me that you are a fellow "over-thinker". In the most loving way possible I would accuse anybody who regularly writes or visits this blog of being an over-thinker.

As you can imagine, my thoughts on developing a culture where the challenge process does not require an elevated level of courage comes from some real world experiences:

In my role, I have been to many mills for decent periods of time each. I have also had the benefit of being a confidant for multiple levels of the organization (much like a consultant would be). The places where the challenge process is alive and well are the same locations where the mill management encourages challenge in both word AND DEED. The deed portion of this encouragement is the only way (that I know of) to truly foster a culture that requires less courage to stand up for what's right, or to ask a clarifying question without the fear of "sounding dumb".

I have also been in mills, that are unfortunately owned by GP, where "everyone" (my word) is afraid of the management. You better be right and informed before you challenge ANYTHING; or you better have a big, fat, 401k in case there's a chance you're wrong. (of course I would guess that the people with that big enough, fat enough 401k don't typically care enough to bother standing up to the tyrant.) This ethos didn't happen overnight, and obviously can't be undone overnight. The existing culture has been reinforced with the deeds and the stories that follow. The words (that are fit to print anyway) may contain all the right buzz words and have the best of intentions, but if they are not followed up with proof that we desire to get better, and to drive creative destruction, and to "proactively share [our] knowledge while embracing a challenge process" then the level of courage required to do so is immense.


"In the most loving way possible I would accuse anybody who regularly writes or visits this blog of being an over-thinker"... Clearly you have been skipping over my entries ;-)

I appreciate all of your comments, Dave - thanks for continuing to contribute.

Tammy Carroll

It is easier to be courageous when you start unfolding the issue and become more knowledgeable on all things related to it.
As managers, I think it goes back to clearly communicating your expectations of the employee in any given environemnt or on a certain project. If they truly understand (and agree) what the objective is (no matter how big or small), it makes it easier to do. I also think that careful communication is key. You have to be approachable, offer honest feedback and be patient with others that have different levels of fear. The employees have to feel comfortbale coming to you and explaining what part of an initiative they are struggling with or asking you multiple questions without you having a negative reaction. I think you have to provide your guidance without judgement. Repect the fact that they have the fear and be sensitive to the fact that everyone has diverse methods and brings different levels of courageous experience.

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