Turbo Leadership Systems

Phone: (503) 625-1867 • Fax: (503) 625-2699 • email: admin@turbols.com
August 28, 2007 Issue 142 To our clients and friends
Safe, Certain Path to Improve Performance

Danita, Human Resources supervisor for a large paper mill in Mackenzie, British Columbia, told Session 9B of the Leadership Development Lab (LDL):

"Carri, our HR Advisor for Training & Development, and I were listing a number of issues we could brainstorm so we would be prepared to report at the next weeks' LDL session. We were stumped. We had a lot of topics listed, but none of them really gave us any juice. Then Carri mentioned she was meeting with a lot of resistance from the paper mill staff toward our new Safety Program. That's when it came to me; 'Duh, this is the perfect topic for us to brainstorm!'

I asked everyone in the HR department to come into the conference room, set up our easel, and asked them if they would help out by brainstorming ideas with us on how we could reduce the resistance Carri was experiencing in her rollout of our new safety initiatives. Carri explained why it was important to the success of the mill that everyone fully embraced the new safety initiatives - accidents would go down and morale would go up. She also explained with a few anecdotes some of the kinds of resistance she was experiencing.

I explained the brainstorming rules:
  1. Go for quantity, not quality.
  2. Encourage free thinking.
  3. Green light thinking ONLY!
  4. Everyone participates.
  5. Encourage humor.
  6. Always use a flip chart.
  7. Form a demanding question . . . "In what ways can we . . . "

  1. No evaluation, put down, or judgment.
  2. Keep things moving by using time limits.

After we explained to the group the resistance we were meeting with and gave some pretty specific examples, we answered a few questions about the reason for the added emphasis on safety. Then I gave the group three minutes to shout out ideas. I wrote them on the easel as fast as they came, and they came fast. We had over sixteen good ideas, great recommendations, from hosting a Q&A session with the staff to public floggings (this fit in the 'encourage humor' category). Many of the ideas have since turned into initiatives that we are turning into measurable action items.

The lesson I learned from this experience is the more people I get involved, the further outside of the box we can get. It is only with fresh out of the box ideas that we can be innovative. Without innovation, we are stuck in a rut. The action I call you to take when you're feeling stuck is know you are not alone and involve as many people as you can muster. Ask for their ideas. After you have generated lots of ideas, go into action. Don't hold back. Your team will rally around you with excited confidence. The benefit you will gain ultimately is new, innovative solutions to any problems you face. You will turn problems into solutions and create an empowered team."