Schlagwort-Archive: Direction

The wind – the ideal metaphor for influencing factors

In sports, personals efforts determine the performance. The athletes exercise for years to release the trained strengths at the right moment. At competitions, however, the results can be distorted by external influences like the wind. World records are only recognized, if the wind speed is less than 2 m/ sec, since the wind can distort the results. In business influencing factors impact the same way on the efforts from all directions – even if it is sometimes an unexpected wildcard in favor of the own outcomes.

Wind is a directed air movement blowing from different directions. The following sections describe some properties of the wind.

  • Wind direction
    The Wind evolves as a result of varying air pressures and blows in different directions (North, South, West, East and all possible intermediate stages). Side winds push you out of the chosen direction. Thermal winds produce additionally vertical winds (upwind and downwash). In an extreme case, the wind direction changes more and more rapidly until turbulences are created, which are dangerous due to their unpredictability and power. The winds can not be produced, but people learned to use them – sailing, propelling mills or flying.
    In business flows arise that affect the activities. These are the employee behaviors, new technologies or unforeseen market changes. They also take effect from all directions. They often come from the side and create an imperceptible drift that ultimately go past the target. If you are able to deal with these trends, you can make use of them for your own benefit by letting yourself being propelled. If, for example, competitors are increasingly using certain software, this reinforces acceptance in the company. However, if the circumstances are working against your direction, they will burden the activities in the form of resistances. If, for example, the use of external workers is increasingly criticized in public, it could quickly lead to a corresponding rejection internally. If new tendencies arise from different directions, special measures must be taken to secure the day-to-day business, like concerted exchange with the concerned people.
  • Wind speed
    Total still air always required looking for other energy sources – on ships rudders or engines are used; mills can also work with hydro power. The force of the wind ranges from a light breeze to a strong wind, or to storms and hurricanes. Over time solutions were invented for using the wind energy. Nowadays container ships are developed that are again propelled by wind energy. The first ships are expanding their propulsion with large sails (see here) and that way they already save about 20% fuel.
    In business, changes influence daily work. At times machines are changed, some other time the business processes are redesigned or the IT is updated. The more extensive the innovations are, the more the influencing factors push. If then even more innovations take place at a time, the dangerous turbulences increase, which can eventually become dangerous. In order not to be overwhelmed by the influences, it is necessary to look at the indicators of change and to use them for the own business. If they push you in the desired direction, you can let yourself carry away. Comes the pressure from the wrong direction and threaten the ongoing operations, you can no longer avoid taking unpleasant measures. These can be strategy changes or at least adaptations in the planning of the implementation, but also measures for exchanging ideas, such as detailed publications of the current situation or staff meetings, in which problems are openly addressed and comprehensibly solved for the employees.
  • Airstream
    A special form of wind, the airstream, is not created by different air pressures, but it comes from your own speed. It is for example created, when you drive fast on the road and the air builds up a wall. This produces similar effects as with the natural wind. The airstream always „blows“ against the own direction. If you move faster than the sound (more than 767 mph), you can even break the sound barrier with a loud bang. The resistance can be reduced by creative adaptation of the form.
    In business, it is possible that too many activities are set up simultaneously. This leads almost automatically to a counter-pressure of the workforce. The unwelcomed changes can be made more „wind-slippery“, especially through open exchange of thoughts. The resistance usually arises from a lack of knowledge of the facts. This resistance is reduced through openness and early involvement of the affected parties. If the management team plans the implementation at a speed that does not allow the workforce to come along, the back pressure increases unnoticed, but steady. Even if many measures go in the desired direction of all concerned people, employees can get too much. In these cases you can only slow down the speed, in order to get faster to the end.

Bottom line: The wind is a natural force which influences the circumstances from all directions. The horizontal and vertical forces and their strength play an important role. Correspondingly, you have to deal with such developing streams also in business. If you can make use of these currents, then you can become faster. If they come from sideways, it is important to take early steps to avoid loosing the path. If it is contrary to your direction, then these resistances slow down, delay or even make the goal fulfillment impossible. Because the business has to deal with similar, difficult to control forces, the wind is an ideal metaphor for influencing factors.

Billiard – the ideal metaphor for the management of change

Changes always take place in a complex environment with various aspects. For controlling purpose boundaries of the areas to be changed are determined, e.g. where or when. The measures then take place within the described boundaries. In addition, the relevant components are selected and their interactions are specified. What products, programs, influences? Finally, change tools are defined. How to transfer from the initial state to the target state?

Billiard has similar aspects: the cushion defines the boundary; the balls the elements; the cue, the tip and the hands are the tools. The course of the billiard game is similar to business change. Therefore billiard is the ideal metaphor for change management.

In both cases change follows the same sequence.

  1. Fixed final state
    At the beginning, the desired final state has to be established in order to ensure that all measures have a common purpose – in billiard the sinking of the balls; in changing the creation of a new situation. Depending on the course, it is difficult to predict the next stop. Accordingly, the objectives should be formulated openly.
  2. Realized starting point
    To prepare, it is helpful to have a full overview of the current situation, inclusive the positions of the relevant elements – in the case of billiard, the balls are spread across the billiard table or already put in the pockets; in operational change, these are the aspects of the transformation, e.g. the processes, IT, organization or the soft factors such as the values ​​and beliefs. The initial situations are perceived differently by everyone.
  3. Elaborated direction
    The action requires a plan that defines the action sequence. The next impact determines the effect in the taken direction – provided that one is able to implement its plan correctly. In billiard, the direction of movements and the impact angles of the balls have to be considered before the thrust. In the course of realizing changes in day-to-day operations, the desired adaptations, which can be mutually dependent, are well planned – e.g. what are the effects of changing a procedure on the employees and their values? In both cases, however, everything is assumed before the action.
  4. Effective tools
    Poor tools require a large portion of luck to achieve the desired result. The quality of the tools affects accuracy. In billiard, the queue and the tip with the chalk as well as the quality of the table determine the behavior of the balls. The introduction of change deals with the soft factors and requires methods and procedures that effectively prepare the mental models and beliefs of those affected by the changes. In both cases, practice makes perfect.
  5. Actions
    The moment of doing is reached. It is now apparent whether the situation is correctly assessed, an effective direction is chosen, the tools are right, and one is capable of well utilizing everything. After the measures are started, they take their course and change the current situation. In billiard, the strength and impact of the tip determine the momentum and effect how the other balls are hit. In change management the clear picture of the target group, the appropriate measures and the support of the management team are crucial for the effect of the measures. In both cases, the dosage of the measure should be adjusted to the current situation, sometimes stronger or weaker.
  6. Keep on going
    The consequence of the measure is a new situation that requires an expansion of the plan. A single push will not result in the desired outcome. Therefore, the steps two to six are repeated until the target is reached. In billiard according to the rules, until all the balls are in the pockets. In business transformation, until the desired degree of change is achieved. Early abandonment is not useful in either case, since it is only possible to see at the end whether the activities have paid off.

With all precision you are not able to take into account all aspects. Since the smallest influences can change the result (see butterfly effect) it also always needs a portion of luck. In billiard the balls behave sometimes unexpectedly, since the fine differences are difficult to control and you are not able to influence after the thrust. In the development of the company, it is possible to readjust at an early stage during an ongoing action, if it is foreseeable that the effects go into the wrong direction. In any case, favorable conditions help.

Bottom line: Change management consists of a series of activities, which should eventually reach the desired end state. For example in billiard it is the sinking of all own balls as well as the black eight. There are always new positioning’s that require an adjustment of the plan. It is similar in the business transformation. Above all, it is important to implement the desired change. On the way to this, the measures always generate intermediate results, which require further steps. It is done when the new conditions are implemented. On the way, the activities of the billiard and the introduction of changes are similar. 1) determine the final state; 2) realize the initial situation; 3) elaborate the direction; 4) use effective tools; 5) actions; 6) keep on going. In the end, the desired result is reached. With its complexity billiard is the ideal metaphor for the management of change.