The key point is that the management leadership at Coors is doing the change management first. Too many times in the process industries, process automation professionals who aren’t completely supported by management have tried to exercise change management skills to attempt to use what they know will improve the performance of the plant. If management isn’t willing to back the play, eventually the drag factors will slow the change process to a crawl, and then a dead stop.
Information Literacy is a relatively new concept to the process automation environment. Many experienced and valuable employees seem ill equipped to navigate the vast amounts of information available to them. Instead of making decisions based on the entire stream of data, they often rely on an antiquated accounting model. They follow hard and fast rules and fail to look any farther than what the current budget allows because their corporate environment has made them risk-averse. The experience and knowledge of these employees could be better leveraged if they improved their information literacy skills. Moreover, their full value to the organization may best be realized when they are encouraged to think and act systematically.
Mostaccero shares that while Coors does not have a regimented formal suggestion system, with their World Class Operations (WCO) rollout, the teams are engaged and motivated to bring forth their ideas to drive better results. Their results and improved processes are scorecarded and trended to help drive improvement in their operating areas' results and are reviewed and visible on their WCO scorecards.
The process automation world is changing so rapidly that the ability to learn new concepts, create new knowledge, and see new opportunity has become a principal skill set required for success.
Organizations that foster an environment in which their employees are encouraged to develop and use these skills will have a distinct advantage over their competitors. It is this type of environment that can bring about significant reduction in the organizational drag associated with implementing new initiatives.
Add information literacy skills to Peter Senge’s five disciplines of learning organizations and you have a recipe for collaborative success:
Personal Mastery is the discipline of personal growth and learning. It is people’s ability to continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly seek.
Mental Models refers to continually surfacing, testing and improving our internal pictures and concepts of how the world works. These are the unwritten “rules” to which we conform our thoughts and patterns of behavior, often without even knowing we are doing so.
Shared Vision is creating a shared picture of the mutual future we seek to create. This is a collaborative process in which management shares, explains, exchanges and reevaluates ideas regarding direction and focus until harmony is reached regarding the future of the organization. This is far different from the top-down approach implemented by many organizations where visionis a mandate. Coors seems to have done a pretty good job with their painting-a-picture approach here.
Team Learning is aligning and developing the capacity for a team of individuals to create the results its members truly desire by tapping into the potential for many minds to be more intelligent than one. This is perhaps the most important discipline for the collaborative process. Please, leave your egos at the door, folks. Mostaccero says, “Coors promotes an atmosphere of open dialogue and idea sharing, supported by a multi-faceted recognition initiative that encourages idea generation and sharing.” This development of real team mentality is key.
Systems Thinking is developing a conceptual framework and a body of knowledge and tools to help businesses see patterns and underlying connections between events more clearly. In short, this is the discipline of seeing the bigger picture. This relates directly to Mostaccero’s statement that people just want to know why, and how it impacts me. Reverse that statement and you get to the heart of systems thinking. How does what I do affect everything else?
These are not new ideas. You’ve heard or seen at least one of these theories expressed in one way or another. There is a genuine quantifiable advantage beyond the touchy-feely connotation associated with these thoughts. We cannot simply dismiss these concepts as HR propaganda.
Used in harmony with information literacy skills, these disciplines can provide an effective way to culturally mitigate organizational drag by removing the largest of the stumbling blocks. Reducing organizational drag starts long before any new technology reaches the implementation phase. Larry O’Brien points out, “To have success with these methodologies, the manufacturer will certainly need to change processes and work practices. The human side of collaboration is the key.”
Conversely, information literacy does have a set of potential pitfalls:
Reinventing the wheel, a failure to realize two problems are actually the same. This results in an overlap of efforts to solve the dilemma twice rather than using existing information. This could be related to the common “not invented here” mentality in some engineering driven companies.
Overcomplicated decision making when the investigators are so intent on solving a big problem that they end up making the problem even bigger. This concept can be related to scope creep, which is endemic to both enterprise IT and process IT projects.
Reduced privacy and security is a potential negative outcome related to information stewardship. Failure to safeguard or properly dispose of unneeded information could result in information falling into the wrong hands…think of hacking the plant control system or even homeland security issues.
Analysis paralysis is a potential pitfall and perhaps the worst-case scenario for information literacy. The individual or group becomes so mired in the details and potential outcomes that they fail to make any decision whatsoever. As one might suspect, this creates significant organizational drag.