The desire to be part of a great organization that makes an important and meaningful impact on the world is not limited to organizational leaders. Making an impact, and doing so as part of a team, is a human need that when tapped brings great energy to an organization. A fundamental challenge for leaders that are stewards of an organization’s financial resources is determining how to best invest in tapping that energy.
The most effective organizations are places where people can connect to each other authentically, are cognizant of a meaningful purpose for their work, understand clearly the commitments they are making to each other, and share learning to achieve inspiring challenges. We see examples of such organizations in studies of engaged workforces and authentically lean organizations. From studies done by Gallup and Towers Perrin here’s a sample of what organizations with engaged workforces can achieve:
- An additional 20% in operating income growth and 15% in net income growth.
- 80% reductions in staff turnover.
- 20% increased productivity.
- 30% fewer accidents.
- 12% higher customer advocacy.
The Wiremold Company in the 1990s cultivated a process improvement culture that accomplished the following during a ten-year span:
- 10% per year average productivity growth.
- 12% per year average net margin percentage increase.
- 35% per year average reduction in lead times.
Transformational Growth Begins with Sustained Enthusiasm
An investment in the continuous cultivation of the elements required for sustained enthusiasm along with a series of brief, daily practices can yield a return of ten to twenty times the investment; assuming a modest 3% to 5% increase in profitability.
Research into what is happening on successful teams, and especially those with a consistent record of growth and high performance, provides insights into four essential elements required to sustain enthusiasm. They are Connection, Cognition, Commitment and Challenge. Each will be explained in more detail in other posts.
The research is supplemented by observations of how these elements has supported client work. The integration of the four essential elements into collaborative team work can be undertaken in five steps:
- Organizational-wide teaching and demonstrating the need and process for cultivating enthusiasm across an entire team.
- Facilitating the discovery and understanding of each person’s individual core identity.
- Developing the composition of team shared identity with a connection to a meaningful purpose.
- Teaching practices centered around the four essential elements necessary for sustaining enthusiasm and cultivating a learning culture.
- Building the capabilities of a core group of champions for leading continuous change and growth across all areas in their domain of the organization.
The Impact of Transformational Growth
For confidentiality purposes I will discuss these examples from client work in a general sense.
- One project team faced the challenge of delivering a project with an allowable budget nearly 20% lower than the market cost of similar facilities. The team created a trust-based learning culture that included all the essential elements required for sustained growth and transformation. The final project was delivered 5% below the allowable budget.
- The capital projects group of large organization now utilizes a team-based project delivery approach that has proven to mitigate cost and schedule risk on over $1 billion in capital improvement projects. Prior to this approach projects were subject to cost overruns, with one major project nearly 50% over budget and requiring twice the projected time. The new approach incorporates the essential elements known to sustain high performance on the part of teams.
- A company intentionally aligned its work processes to address the needs of staff to integrate creativity with efficient workflow coordination. The process recognizes the importance of connection to purpose along with the essential elements of sustained growth, resulting in improved work quality and stronger alignment with target schedules and budgets.
A Concluding Challenge
The cultivation of enthusiasm through the integration of Connection, Cognition, Commitment and Challenge has both human development and economic benefits. Consider what meaningful purpose is your work serving and what challenging goals do you have that enhanced enthusiasm would make possible, and how much new wealth will achieving those goals generate. Chart a path to understand that purpose and how you will heighten your enthusiasm and that of others.
If you would like a place to start, join us in our Courageous Leadership Experience workshop. Contact me for details.