In a previous article a Finance Manager, Ops Manager and an HR Manager walk into a bar. They fought over whose round it was and wasted a lot of time and money resisting each other’s solutions and protecting their own.

At the end of the article, they set up a joint tab, invited the workers and their representatives to join in and focused on how to have a great time with all the people in the bar. It was a far more successful approach.

How did they do it?

The Finance Managers recognised that in order to achieve desirable commercial outcomes it was necessary to continuously improve the value offered to consumers. Consumers these days have so much choice. They also recognised that in order to deliver that value it is necessary to have a safe, secure and satisfied workforce. Without people doing good work there would be no way to convert those improvements into top-line results, and they would have to resort to cutting costs which is not sustainable in the long term.

The Ops Manager recognised that in order to continuously improve the value to consumers it would be necessary to have the best people on the job. The best people are hard to find and even harder to keep. Providing a safe, secure and satisfying work environment is the only way to keep good people. They also recognised that any investment in improvements needed to be commercially responsible or the organisation would run out of money, and nobody would have a job.

The HR Manager and the Union Organiser, it turns out they wanted similar things, recognised that in order to provide a safe, secure and satisfying work environment for people it was necessary to be commercially responsible as an organisation. Without looking after the money, the organisation wouldn’t last and nor would the jobs. They also recognised that people like to do work that is valued. The only place that true recognition of value comes from is satisfied consumers. It is essential to have safe employees – that is a no brainer. It is important for people to be secure – no one does good work when they feel threatened. And the work must be satisfying.

Commercial Responsibility, Consumer Value and a Culture that is safe, secure and satisfying (the 3C’s) are all dependent on each other. They all realised that you can’t have one without the other two.

So, it turns out that the Finance Manager, Ops Manager, HR Manager and the Union Organiser have mutual interests. Instead of fighting with each other about whose round it is if they focused on options to satisfy these mutual interests they realised they would all be better for it – and that would mean sustainable.

Yes, but how did they do it? They used Interest Based Problem Solving (IBPS) a form of problem solving derived from the Harvard Negotiation Project. At first, it was slow and clunky because it was a new way of operating, but as they practised, they got better and faster at it until it became almost second nature to them.

Now instead of wasting money, resisting change and protecting their respective butts they actively sought out efficient solutions that everyone could support during implementation (even if it wasn’t their first choice) and focused on collective satisfaction.

Some advice from Peter Senge:

“We all have probably spent too much time thinking about ‘smart individuals.’ That’s one of the problems with schools. They are very individualistic, very much about ‘the smart kids and the dumb kids.’ That’s not the kind of smartness we need.

The smartness we need is collective. We need cities that work differently. We need industrial sectors that work differently. We need value change and supply change that are managed from the beginning until the end to purely produce social, ecological and economic well-being. That is the concept of intelligence we need, and it will never be achieved by a handful of smart individuals.

It’s not about ‘the smartest guys in the room.’ It’s about what we can do collectively. So the intelligence that matters is collective intelligence, and that’s the concept of ‘smart’ that I think will really tell the tale.”

My name is Karl Perry.  I teach teams of people to use Interest Based Problem Solving and help them practice until they become proficient enough to do it by themselves with speed.

Click “FOLLOW” below to learn more about High Performance through Engagement and how to achieve sustainable high performance in any organisation.  There will be a post on IBPS in the near future.

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