08 Jan An Old Story About the New Quick Fix
Ralph H. Kilmann, co-author of the Thomas-Kilmann Instrument (TKI)
To highlight the value of seeing the big picture (as represented by the “Quantum Wheel”) and transforming an old Newtonian organization into a new quantum organization, let me share with you what I learned from a three-day workshop that I conducted for the fifty senior executives of a large division of a Fortune 100 company. Before these top executives decided to proceed with the eight tracks of quantum transformation, they wanted to explore the philosophy of a completely integrated program and thoroughly understand the particular change initiatives that were embedded in each track.
On the last day of this three-day workshop, after considerable time had already been spent on discussing why the integrated sequence of the eight tracks is fundamentally different from the prevalent cycle of ad-hoc, quick-fix approaches, the chief financial officer (CFO) of the firm raised his hand and proclaimed: “I now understand what you have done. When you get right down to it, your completely integrated program is a quick fix!”
I was shocked at this obvious lack of understanding, but I tried not to show it. Instead, I asked the CFO: “Please tell me more about what you have on your mind. I’m not sure I understand what you just said.”
The CFO proceeded to share his perspective: “Sure, I’ll be glad to explain what I mean. I’ve been working for this company for over twenty years now. I’ve seen every improvement plan come and go: quality circles, participative management, teaming, matrix management, empowerment, employee involvement, and organizational learning. You name it; we’ve already done it!
“But hardly anything around here that really matters much has actually changed. Yes, we have new charts, job titles, buildings, products, people, and all kinds of fancy computers–but we still make decisions in the same old way. We still put one another down in the same old way. We still exclude certain people from key meetings because we don’t want to hear different points of view. And we continue to blacklist people if they didn’t support our pet projects.
“Yet now you’re telling us that by going through a sequence of eight tracks and doing first things first and getting it right before you go on—which includes explicitly facing our root dysfunctions at the start and gradually proceeding to change our invisible infrastructures and align our formal systems, month by month, before we try quality management and reengineering again—we can transform our organization in just a few years. Well, your program IS a quick fix compared to what we’ve been through for the past two decades!”
Kilmann Diagnostics offers a series of eleven recorded online courses and nine assessment tools on the four timeless topics: conflict management, change management, consciousness, and transformation. By taking these courses and passing the Final Exams, you can earn your Certification in Conflict and Change Management with the Thomas-Kilmann Instrument (TKI). For the most up-to-date and comprehensive discussion of Dr. Kilmann’s theories and methods, see his 2021 Legacy Book: Creating a Quantum Organization: The Whys & Hows of Implementing Eight Tracks for Long-term success.