Episode 199: David Shaner on the 7 Arts of Change
David Shaner took all he learned from being an Olympic downhill skier, a black belt Ki-Akido expert and a change management consultant and created the most innovated, evolved system for bringing everyone in your organization to a higher level of personal growth while simultaneously kicking booty in business fundamentals through times of change (pretty much every single day, right?)
If you want peak performance from your employees, and you understand that personal development and professional development are one and the same, use this 7 step process to leverage the wisdom of Asian culture with the dynamics of global business to effectively lead change.
Learn how to drive change through your organization by letting your employees change from inside out.
Experience peak business performance by setting the stage for every employee to achieve their peak professional capabilities.
Create a culture of success through blameless communication, personal responsibility and by taking the best actions for the highest potential.
If you are a leader or a player in a company that isn't performing at a peak level, David Shaner lays out a system for activating your talent and potential at a profound level.
If you want a copy of The 7 Arts of Change, post your desire on the DishyMix Facebook Page.
Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton, and on today’s show you’re going to get to meet David Shaner. David is the author of a new book called The 7 Arts of Change: Leading Business Transformation That Lasts.
Now I’ve been doing DishyMix for a lot of years every single week, and so I’m on the radar of a lot of PR folks and I’d say probably get two or three books a week sent to me randomly or people reach out and offer things up, so I look at a lot of books. And it’s very, very unusual for me to have a press person send me a book and it hits my desk, and I look at it and think, “Oh, this is interesting.” And then I open it and say, “Wow, this is a damn good book.”
It’s not only revolutionary, but it’s an ah-ha moment. That just doesn’t happen a lot for me, and I know it doesn’t happen a lot for you. And it’s going to happen for you today because David’s amazing personal history combined with the work he does in the world has led him in a direction that I think in the next half hour is going to completely change the way you think about how you change things in your own organization.
I know that as a DishyMix listener you’re a change agent. You’re fighting to bring the digital world into your organization. Or you’re acquiring or being acquired by companies. There’s just a lot of change in our world because we’re such pioneers in the grand scheme of what happens in the business world. We do things differently. We love new. We pioneer ideas. And David can tell you how to do that more effectively, both within your life and within your company.
No matter where you are in the pecking order, you can make changes more effectively by just listening to what he has to say.
So David’s the principle of a company called Connect Consulting. He helps advise big companies about organizational change, but everything that he does can be applied to your business no matter how big or small it is. He’ll probably tell you some stories about Frito Lay and Duracell and Gillette and some of the other companies that he has helped.
He is now a Herring professor, not red I guess, of Asian Studies and Philosophy at Furman University. He’s also interestingly enough an internationally renowned teacher of Ki-Akido. He has a 7th degree black belt. I’ve got to hear what the 7th is. I think he likes that number. I guess it’s lucky for him. And he’s taught at Harvard. He was a member of the Olympic Valley U.S. Ski Team, and he’s also served as a Fulbright fellow in India, so he’s been around the world hurtling his body through space and we’ve got him for a half an hour, so lets get him on the show. David, welcome.
David Shaner: Well, you are one exciting person. That was great.
Susan Bratton: Are you just totally excited about yourself already?
David Shaner: I’m totally excited about myself at this point.
Susan Bratton: All right…
David Shaner: Not only that, I’m dangerous. I just came off a family – you mentioned the skiing – I just came back from a family vacation in Park City Utah…
Susan Bratton: Oh yeah.
David Shaner: So I’m extra energized today…
Susan Bratton: Nice!
David Shaner: and that was a wonderful introduction. Thank you.
Susan Bratton: I am a Park City lover. Where did you ski? Did you ski all the, did you ski Canyons, Park City, Deer, did you do the whole thing?
David Shaner: Well I’ll tell you what, my boys, who are sliders, they say, you know, they snowboard, “Dad is a dinosaur” and I’m an old ski racer. But they want to snowboard, so actually they went to the Canyons with my nephew for a day, and my wife and I and our daughter, we skied at Park City. And we were going to do Deer Valley one day, but the snow actually, as you know, Deer Valley’s a slightly higher altitude wise, and it was just a whiteout. We had excellent snow, but we just had a great family time skiing. There’s nothing like skiing fast in the sunshine, and even in a blizzard I just love it.
Susan Bratton: I do too, and one of the things that I really like about Deer Valley – now if you get a chance to go back I really recommend it, because I like those – and you’re an Olympic downhill skier. You like the really long runs, right?
David Shaner: Yeah. The faster the better.
Susan Bratton: Well I’m not so great about the fast, but I like the super long groomers, and Deer Valley’s really, they’ve got the best grooming equipment. It’s so awesome there. So I’m glad…
David Shaner: Well I’ve been there before and I couldn’t agree more. That’s a delightful place for almost any level of skier just because the grooming is, as you said, just remarkable.
Susan Bratton: It is. And just Park City, it’s just an awesome place. So well you’re fresh from your vacation, which is great, and I really want to talk about the seven arts of change. You’re an organizational change expert but you have a twist, and that is that you bring eastern philosophy into the way that you advise companies to change. One of your statistics is that more than 70% of all corporate change initiatives fail. That’s mostly, I mean there are a couple of key reasons that they fail. Instead of focusing on what fails, I’d love for you to draw me a parallel and just talk about what it is that you’re bringing with eastern philosophy that makes your seven arts of change different, and then lets just briefly do a top line on those seven arts and then dig into a couple of them that I think are particularly interesting. So start with the eastern meets western mesh that you’ve created here.
David Shaner: All right. Well great question, and it might take me, since we started with ski racing let me go back and tell you how this, you know, westerner from America began to tap things Asian. And it all started when I was 14 years old, I had a hero, you know. We all had heroes when we were growing up, especially if you’re a young athlete. And just to date myself, my hero was Jean Claude Killy who won three gold medals in the 1968 Winter Olympics. And I said, “Jean Claude, what’s the key to your success?” Now mind you, I’m 14 years old at this time. And he says, “I do Yoga.” And I was like whoa, this was the beginning of sports psychology. So it was what do you need to do in terms of your mind, mental preparation, to really compete at world class levels. And at the time I was on what was called the development team. They have the A team, the B team, back then they called it the Talent Squad, but I just wanted to be a fast ski racer. So I was exposed to Yoga at an early age, and I found that sitting still, breathing and meditating was pretty difficult for this 14 year old that just wanted to ski fast. But at the same time I saw a martial arts demonstration, and it was in the art of Aikido, and I have been doing that art ever since, so over 40 years. And really what I have learned from my teacher, whose name is [inaudible] who is 91 years old now, is how to think and perform to the best of your ability. I really wanted to understand him and his philosophy so much so that I went to graduate school at the University of Hawaii and ended up getting a PhD in Japanese philosophy and finishing right at the time of 1980. And some of your listeners are going to recognize this; in 1980 they can remember back, if they were in business at that time, and they can remember books like Theory Z, The Art of Japanese Management, and the whole world wanted to understand, “Wow, what makes Japan tick?” How is it that you have a series of islands the size of Montana that are producing, you know, half the gross national product of the United States and now they’re the third largest economy in the world. And so people wanted to know what makes them tick. Well there I was, I didn’t go to business school. My idea of business is buy low, sell high, profit is revenue less cost, basic concepts. But I realized that the business world was looking to understand what’s going on in this kind of Japanese mind, these organizations that are creating a quality of revolution and are really, you know, dominating in so many different industries around the world. And I would pick up books on lean manufacturing and I would realize that these authors may have spent two weeks in Japan touring the Toyota production plant and then writing books as though they’re experts about what really is going on. And I recognized what’s going on is a completely different way of thinking in the Japanese workforce. And so I find myself in 1980 with a PhD in philosophy focusing on Japan of people, American businesses wanting to understand what’s really going on, so I started my business really working with mergers and acquisitions, which today I know in the digital world are happening, you know, daily, but I was beginning to use my expertise with respect to Japanese industry and helping American companies merge those cultures together. And over the last 20 plus years or actually 30 years, I’ve been able to help companies merge those cultures by not only taking the best of what I think the world of Asian business has to offer, but I also have been studying since an early age what are those things that help people to be the truly best they can be. And so I have a book series with the State University of New York Press on the biological basis of productive learning and behavior, and from that experience I’ve really tried to distill what are the key ingredients that help people to change and try to distill that to having appreciation for the global business environment as well as teach people practical useful tools to help them change to improve not only themselves but their work life, and then you magnify the fact that an organization is nothing other than the sum of each individual, how could we take all of these different things and what I call just a different toolkit in order to create peak performance for everyone while at work. And I couldn’t be happier that this book is now out because it represents kind of this compendium of everything from ski racing to martial arts to Asian cultures to American businesses to the biological basis of behavior, and I just couldn’t be happier that the book is out and people like you are willing to see value in it.
Susan Bratton: A couple things. One, the biggest takeaway for me was the fact that every individual that change management doesn’t come from the top down that the opportunity is to imbue the vision of the change within every person, but here’s where, everybody talks about that – but the level deeper, which draws from your Olympic focus and your key Aikido focus was that you can grow personally through the time of organizational change and that instead of it being about accountability, which is the top down approach, which is how a lot of people think, “We’re going to put in this organizational change strategy, and we’re going to force it through the organization.” Instead it’s about the ways that you can get people to not think about it as accountability, but to think about it as responsibility. That everyone’s taking responsibility for themselves and that there’s an opportunity for every individual to grow during these times of change. And frankly for my listeners everyday is a time of change in their business. But I want to go back to something you said. I want to get to that, I want you to take that to the next level, but before we do just pop one step back. You talked about the understanding this biological basis of change behavior…
David Shaner: Right.
Susan Bratton: We as marketers are very interested in going all the way down to whatever part of the brain this stuff happens in. Like is it in the limbic system, is it neo cortexes, you know, is it amygdala; where does behavioral change happen and how can we understand it better at that biological level.
David Shaner: Okay, great question. In 1986 I was on leave from Furman University and I had a fellowship to teach at Harvard for ’85 and ’86 actually. It was called an Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellowship in the Humanities. And because of my focus in Asian philosophy my office was in the Yenching Library, which is the largest collection of non-western materials outside of Asia. So I was there, and if any of your listeners have attended Harvard or Nova Campus there at Cambridge, they’ll realize that the Museum of Comparative Zoology is right next to, it actually surrounds the Yenching Library. And at that time were two very, very famous biologists. One I’m sorry to say is deceased who became a good friend, Steven J. Gould. And another who is still a professor at Meritus, Edward O. Wilson who’s the father of what’s sometimes called sociobiology. These two biologists were kind of at odds on the whole theme of sociobiology, which means to understand the biological basis of social behavior. The promoter of that was Ed Wilson and kind of the protagonist who thought this was a kind of misguided research agenda was Steven J. Gould. And I kind of befriended both of them and spent most of the year really studying at their feet, because I as a comparative philosopher was interested in this whole notion that – you’ve heard the world culture shock right, where people go and see the third world…
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
David Shaner: and they literally get physically sick…
Susan Bratton: Yeah, it’s so different.
David Shaner: And I was trying to understand from a mergers and acquisitions standpoint or just from a creative piece in the world, how can we bring people from, you know, radically different cultural orientations and help them to work together. And what I recognized is we are all addicted. We’re not just addicted to cigarettes or crack or alcohol or whatever, you know, we think are bad habits; but all our behavior is a kind of function of an addiction, which is the way in which we’ve always done things. And what I recognize for anyone to change a habit – you’re going to lose weight, stop smoking, spend more time with the kids – it’s difficult for all of us, no matter what our cultural orientation is. And what I found is that in our biology we are habit driven. We are all addicted to the way in which we’ve always done things, and that’s the one thing that a change management or a change agent has working against them, and it matters that the people that they’re trying to lead are all addicted to the way in which they’ve always done things. So unless you’re able to have a committed effort to help people in your organization to overcome really the addiction of the way in which they’ve always done things, you’re not going to be able to rally 100% of the people to achieve the execution of new goals to executing business strategy unless you take very seriously the degree to which people will resist that change process. And that’s why the seven arts are there to create further ground to really take the training and development required to help an organization to correctively overcome an addiction. If you’re merging two companies, you got one that’s addicted to doing things one way and there’s going to be a power struggle; you’ve got another that says this is the right way to do it; and when you bring them together those two minds or addictions if you will clash. And so what I recognize from this study of the biological basis of behavior is, you know, the human brain – they call it neuroplasticity or that humans are neotonus creatures – what that means is that our brain, when we are born the brain is an erratically underdeveloped organ. When I was in school, you probably heard of the whole nature of nurture debate, is our behavior a function of our environment or is it in our biology, i.e. our genes. Well actually the truth is it’s in your neurons. Your brain is, when you’re born you’re born literally as a living embryo, and your brain is going to continue to develop neuro networks that acts on their own [inaudible] structures until the ages of about 22 to 26, and then literally your brain is hardened. Those neuro networks are not going to grow and develop anymore. A common easy example that I use that is understandable to all very quickly is in the brain you have an area called Broca’s area, which is the language center. So human beings have the ability to speak, right, to learn language. But the native syntax of say Chinese or Hindi or English is going to actually be reflected in the human brain, which is why if you want to learn multiple languages, say two or three languages, the time to do it is when Broca’s area is actually developing from birth to say year ten. And that’s why people who grew up in bilingual homes are so gifted because they’re so fortunate because they are naturally bilingual and they never had to go to school and work on it. By the time you start studying a foreign language literally if you’re hardwired for the syntax and grammar of your own language, now you have to learn another language through the wiring of your brain that’s already reflecting your native language, you know, patterns. So that’s just an example that you’re not only learning a language, but you’re learning behavioral models of how you resist change, how you deal with anger, how you overcome problems. And so what I found in that research is that when you approach change either individually or, much more difficult, organizationally, you have to go about it with the idea that this is not going to be the flavor of the month. Forget it if you’re just going to do it with an offsite meeting and try to inspire people with a motivational speaker. When I sign up with a company it’s a three year commitment minimum. So, a, they know I’m not going to go away and it’s not going to be the playboy of the month; b, we’re going to develop an organizational strategy that’s going to take into consideration the amount of training and development that every employee’s going to need for the simple reason if you want them to think and act like an owner, then you’re going to need to give everyone all the tools to think as though they own the company. That’s going to mean financial literacy, that’s going to mean what I call boardroom awareness, that is you have to understand the marketplace, competitors, new technologies that might be putting you out of business. You need 100% of your employees to understand the vision, the strategy and the benefit that is what are they going to get out of it, and that Susan is the important point that you raised, which is can you actually make work a vehicle for your personal and dare I say even spiritual development? The average life expectancy is 27,500 days. You’re going to spend at least half those number of days at work. So why can’t we just kind of reframe the whole context and say if you want people to think and act to the best of their ability, guess what, world class athletes have a whole bunch of fun when they know they’re the best in the world at what they do. It’s personal rewarding, it’s gratifying, they see the benefits. So what if you with your company were to create a platform that energized people every single day where it wasn’t just work to hit this, you know, financial goal. What if work and financial goals and competing were actually a vehicle for everyone’s personal growth and development? How could you foster that kind of environment at your workplace? And if you’re a change agent, you know, it’s not rocket science. A lot of times I say if you understand the golden rule and you actually put it into the workplace, you know, you can follow the seven arts because what you’re doing is you’re putting yourself in the place of everyone that you want to think and perform at a whole other level. And all you have to do is give them the tools that they need to succeed, and if you want people to think and act like an owner, you know what, another thing you can do is make an owner. I believe in gain sharing, I believe in pay for performance. If it’s a publicly traded company I believe in giving shares to the people, ‘cause it’s only the right thing to do. It’s called telling people the truth. I want you to think and act like an owner, so guess what, make them an owner and maybe they will.
Susan Bratton: You know it’s funny, last week I spoke at a conference that was primarily bootstrap entrepreneurs, and the man who put on the conference wanted me to explain to the bootstrap entrepreneurs what we in Silicon Valley know that entrepreneurs need to know about running a really solid company that’s built for success. And one of the biggest things is, in a nutshell it’s have multiple exit strategies and be focused in the future on some kind of liquidity event if you’re in small business, right, you’re looking for something that can create tremendous value. What are the reasons why companies get acquired or go IPO, and then what the value of stock options are and how you can create, you know, maybe a C Corp or some kind of a corporation. It’s not necessarily an LLC or an S Corp, so that you have stock that you can give to both your employees as an incentive, as a hiring and retention tool to get the best talent, but also so that you can bring in an advisory board that gives you not just accountability but that personal responsibility and is both a sounding board and they can provide mentoring and connection for you. And so it’s funny that just last week I was talking about how beneficial employee stock options are to small business and that it’s not hard and that you can do it and that it does create that level of personal commitment to an organization that you cannot get without something like that as a vehicle.
David Shaner: Sure. I mean people, you know, what makes people lose weight or stop smoking is they have a vision of the benefit on the other side of, you know, where they are presently. So the reason why most people go to work, lets face it, is for a paycheck. So you can incentify people, and all it means is lets not be greedy. It can be as simple, lets say you have a very small business. Lets say there’s just three people, right – yourself and two employees. If you have a financial model that says, “You know what, I would really like to get to, say, this revenue this year,” maybe you’ve got two people helping you to do the sales. Salespeople get commissions all the time, right. It’s an incentive. So you really would have to figure out some stock quotient. You can just say, “Friends, here’s our goal this year.” In private equity it’s usually the benchmark EBITDA, right – Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization. I have a client right now that’s a privately held company, and we set a benchmark this particular past year, that is 2010. In 2009 this company was almost facing bankruptcy. We created this whole strategy, which is akin to the seven arts; the people embraced it. In 2010 they all executed seamlessly such that we hit those 100% payout level. We also had 150% payout level, where everyone in the organization would get a cash bonus, which by the way is happening this week because it took until February for the auditors to finish, you know, auditing the books for the fiscal year, and now we’re cutting checks of, guess what, millions and millions of dollars are being added to the pockets of this company. It’s a relatively small company. There’s 850 employees. But they have four manufacturing plants around the United States, and they have gone from near bankruptcy to being brought into the process of turning this company around, to here in 2011 every single employee is going to get between 6% and 9% of their annual salary just as an incentive, and it doesn’t matter if you’re in sales, marketing, if you’re an administrative assistant; everyone’s valuable and everyone is bonus eligible. And all it required is saying, “If we hit this number, then I’m going to give this level of payout.” And all you have to do is say, “Okay, I don’t need to share all this, you know, profit myself because if we hit this number and I give X percent of it back to the employees, I’m still a happy camper if I own 100% of the company because now I’m growing revenue, I’m growing the top line, maybe I’m cutting costs.” So you can create whatever financial incentive you want if you just, you know, do the business plan yourself ahead of time and say, “If we do this, why wouldn’t I share some percentage of that with everyone who helped me get there.” And it seems to me that’s just the right thing to do, and people naturally respond because they get it too. It’s simply fair.
Susan Bratton: Now people naturally respond to financial and other incentives of course. But your book is really, it goes a level deeper into owning both your own professional growth as it relates to the growth and positive changes in the larger organization.
David Shaner: Yes.
Susan Bratton: How do you – and I really don’t want to miss going over the seven arts. I want you to, we got to get there, right.
David Shaner: Yeah, eventually.
Susan Bratton: But how do you, as a leader or anybody in the organization when there’s change, how do you instill that drive with or without financial incentives? There’s an emotional commitment. There’s a need for every person in the organization to have responsibility for the success, to step up.
David Shaner: Yes.
Susan Bratton: What is it that you do to… Obviously there’s going to be a vision, right. But get me there. How do you get people fired up?
David Shaner: Yeah. Well you know what, the person who inspired me was Mahatma Gandhi, and he had a vision and he inspired an entire nation of India to essentially mature to a place that they could achieve their own freedom, right, from England, from the UK. And the force that he talked about was called Satyagraha, which means the force of truth. And I found that if you just tell employees the truth in everything that you do, people will follow willingly to the best of their ability. It’s as simple as this. I also learned we’re all just children, you know. When you have children – and you have a duaghter, right?
Susan Bratton: Yes.
David Shaner: Okay. When you, with your daughter when she was maybe younger than she is now and you would say, you know, “Honey, I want you to do this,” and then the word that every child asks is “Why?”, which is a totally normal question. Think of it; they want to know the reason. And you’re a loving mother, right, so you explain, “Well honey, it’s because of this.” But because they’re a child they might say “What?” They might say why again, right, “Well why mommy that?” You just explained it. And then you explain it another way because you realize that maybe they’re still not really understanding it. And you explain it again and they say, “Why? Why?” And then you think it might be a game, and then you say, “Because I’m your mother,” right. Or I say to my kids, “The reason is because I’m your father.” Now I’ve explained it four different ways, right, and I’m just saying now I’ve lost my patience. Well guess what, adults want to know the why answer too. They want to know the truth. They want to know the agenda. And so if you give them that now the empowering, you said what’s the flicker, how do you get the flame to burn inside the person. Well it’s the same way you do it with your children. They have to want to perform because they understand the direction that they’re headed and why it’s good for them. Nobody likes an autocratic manager. Nobody likes to be told what to do including your daughter or my daughter and sons. As soon as I say when I lose patience “Because I’m your father,” I have just become in grown up langauge an autocratic manager. And they will do it but they’re doing it out of fear, ‘cause you just intimidated your child. You just said, “Because you’re going to get in trouble if you don’t ‘cause I have all the cards,” and that’s no different than you saying, “Because I’m the supervisor,” “Because I’m the department manager,” “Because I’m the Vice President of Marketing,” or “Because I’m the CEO, do it because I told you so.” People will do it but they’re doing it out of fear because if you don’t there’s going to be a bad consequence. World class performers are self-motivated, so what you have to do is create conditions where everyone will perform willingly to the best of their ability when no one is watching.
Susan Bratton: So what you have to do is get to the “Why” behind the “Why” behind the “Why” behind the “Why” of your vision and you have to keep explaining the vision and the “Why” behind it until everyone says, “I can get behind that.”
David Shaner: Exactly. And guess what, everyone will get behind it if not only you’re telling them the truth about the business, the competitors and pay, but if you’re purposely creating an organization that they believe, because it’s the truth, that you’re trying to create an environment for personal growth and development where everyone is growing as a human being, learning new things, maybe it’s cross training, really helping one another as genuine teammates and they’re not doing these things simply for a paycheck or simply because someone says, “You know, I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job if I don’t.” You know, what I’m talking about is how do you create really a world class environment where everyone on your team has an opportunity excel and now take some delight, they’re actually excited to come to work. It’s not like, you know, I marvel at people that say, “Thank god it’s Friday.” I’m thinking you just, through those words you just said basically seven days of your life don’t count? Like the only thing that’s great is Friday evening and looking ahead to two days off? My thing is why can’t work be a positive vehicle for growth and development, ‘cause we’re going to spend half our lives at work. So part of the carrot is, “Wow, I’m working at a place with people who really care about my learning and growth and development,” you know. And the other thing is people are going to want to hire your employees once they recognize that what creates value in a company is really the sum total of the education and the knowledge power of every member of the team. So why wouldn’t you kind of create an environment that is an opportunity for everyone to fully grow and develop to the best of their ability.
Susan Bratton: So there are some traget behaviors that I saw in your book that I think are important to create within a culture of an organization. Things like talking about whatever needs to be talked about openly, that silence accomplishes nothing, that disagreement is healthy and resolution is necessary…
David Shaner: Right.
Susan Bratton: Responding professionally to differences, it’s what is right to do not who is right in any given situation. Managing risks and making mistakes and learning from them. That’s a big one in Silicon Valley. People actually herald their mistakes in the Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs, you know, they make mistakes, they have failures and they talk about them, you know – “Hey, that was a failed business model; now we’re doing this,” you know. That’s one that’s come open. But there’s still to me a fundamental problem in what I see happening a lot of times with things like change management, mergers and acquisitions, things like that, and that is that people – and I’m going to be really bad here, but I think it’s mostly the way men behave. I think that in general what I have in my personal experience, this is a broad based stereotype grounded in my own personal experience. I see that men are territorial and they have pissing matches and they like to silo and they like to beat each other up for, they have like a fixed pie mentality where, “I’m going to get the money to do my thing; screw your thing.”
David Shaner: Right.
Susan Bratton: Where women in general tend to work together for a greater goal. They seem to be more team oriented. They work better with others often – and these are terrible stereotypes – and the problem is that there aren’t enough women in management to get that kind of group dynamic really happening because the people at the top are often men who seem so territorial. Do you want to say, “Bad, bad Susan. You shouldn’t be saying these stereotypes” or does it go back to some kind of biological basis of behavior that we need to, you know, how do we get to this kind of, “You can have a spiritual transformation at work doing all the right things,” you know. Like that sounds great David, but I don’t know. I’ve been in some dick slapping meetings that would knock you over, you know what I mean?
David Shaner: No, I do, and I think that’s why at least my publisher was thinking that this book was rather courageous to try to take a no nonsense business consultant with an incredible track record, which I’m happy to say I have and I’m happy with 30 endorsements, but to actually come out and start talking about spiritual development, and you know, personal development as something completely compatible with, you know, making the most money that your company possibly can. I celebrate your question actually, and I would add that, you know, sometimes I find that I can’t go back and say, “Yes, women are like this, men are like this and it’s biological.” I have seen, you know, men that is embrace a completely different model where they used to be territorial and aggressive and they would just kill one another or whatever to get ahead. And then actually change that behavior such that the collective actually work better. And I also have, you know, clients where the females were considered to be just as territorial and aggressive and competitive with each other, but we were also able to change successfully, you know, those environments. I guess what I want to say is you brought up the target behaviors and you actually listed some that are in the book. But I would add that I believe in target behaviors, but that list that you read was from a turnaround situation where we did very successfully with the Duracel Battery company where I helped them for 13 years and six changes of ownership culminating in the purchase of the company by Gillette, and that was a particular manufacturing plant that interestingly enough had the characteristics of what you were talking about with this kind of male dominated aggressive territorial problem. Where those specific target behaviors were the prescription if you will from the earlier work that I had done where I go in first and interview as many people as possible for a full hour, one on one confidential interviews. I don’t believe in surveys because you don’t get to know people and they don’t talk back. I go in and try to do a baseline assessment of where are the people right now really in their thinking with respect to their work, their company, etcetera. And what I found in this particular case that’s a case study written about in the book, is that for each of those target behaviors Susan that was a prescription for the culture that was doing the opposite. For example, they had a problem, or lets deal with kind of the male macho thing that you were just mentioning. They would fight each other in different departments of the manufacturing plant to make their numbers look good. So they would throw problems over the wall to kind of blame the other side in the production process, maybe it was either uphill or downhill of the production process. But they just wanted to make themselves look good at the expense of the actual product or the overall numbers of the plant manager was ultimately responsible for. So there was a lot of infighting and people were not telling the truth, meetings were political dog and pony shows. There was no open and honest communication. People did get silent because they were afraid of losing their jobs. I mean it was a disaster. And each of those target behaviors, it could be in all of you listeners organizations, they might think, “You know, do I really understand the mind of my people. Maybe I should spend a whole bunch of quality time interviewing one on one confidentially virtually everyone and try to create a platform for open and honest communication.” And you might just learn that the people are going to tell you, “Here are all the things that would need to be fixed for me to feel like I am able to work to the best of my ability everyday.” And so that list of target behaviors was really a prescription for the ills of the plant that I learned simply by going in there and spending literally three months, I must have interviewed like 250 people for an hour. And it’s easy to keep peoples confidentiality in place because all I would do was follow the 80/20 rule. If I heard say some bizarre complaints from only one employee and no one else in the entire say plant or organization mentioned that particular ill, well if I were to make that complaint visible to the entire organization as part of the cultural change process, then everyone would know that that particular complaint only led back to one person. So I would not be protecting their confidentiality. But if I just follow the 80/20 rule and after interviewing everyone I said, “You know what, 60% of these people or 70% consistently say this is a problem that they face everyday at work, then lets just go ahead and fix it. Lets bring everyone back together, lets give them the results of kind of this open and honest assessment of where we are,” and guess what, people will go, “Oh my god, that guy,” or whoever it is, that woman, “is actually talking openly and honestly about this stuff that drives me nuts everyday, and look, senior management is listening, senior management has embraced these problems, senior management is now going to take action.” In other words, they’re going to accept responsibility for their role in how the culture got to be this way. And so what you’re doing is you’re actually engaging the people in the process of change based upon their own feedback, and that’s another way in which you’re going to be talking openly and honestly, you’re going to be telling the truth and people are going to respond favorably because they feel that their opinion matters and that the senior managers are actually taking it into consideration and changing things.
Susan Bratton: Okay. We have to talk about the seven…
David Shaner: Oh yes.
Susan Bratton: of change.
David Shaner: Okay.
Susan Bratton: And I totally hear what you’re saying, which is you need to, in the last thing you said, you need to go through a real assessment of what it is that’s holding people back from being the best they can be at work and really look at how you can decrease the friction in your organization and how you can have some personal responsibility that everyone can have and that you can kind of call each other on it as well. I think that’s important that…
David Shaner: Yeah, definitely.
Susan Bratton: there’s a culture of compassion that allows you to say to someone in some sweet and helpful way that maybe they’re not, they’re doing things the old way instead of the new way.
David Shaner: Right.
Susan Bratton: Is there a good way that you’ve found, you know, harkening back to your Asian philosophies or even, you know, non violent communication or whatever you might have studied, what are some ways that you can call one of your fellow employees on the old behaviors verses raising them up in a compassionate way to the new behavior you’re trying to integrate?
David Shaner: Well in a sense, by elevating, you can choose the target behaviors, as I said just a minute ago. Whatever behaviors you’re choosing to celebrate, very visually and to celebrate those behaviors and those things that might even become a part of your performance management system. If open and honest communication for example is one of those behaviors, then you’re creating in a sense a veil of protection for everyone in the company because all you have to do Susan is so, okay, lets say I’m talking to Sally, and then say, “Sally, in the spirit of open and honest communication, could I, you know, have an honest communication with you about what happened yesterday at the meeting?” Now when you say that it’s almost code language because the change process of the seven arts that uses target behaviors, everyone in the organization will know in a sense that they’re protected. They’re not acting individually calling someone out. What they’re actually practicing is an endorsed company value because everyone recognized that maybe we don’t have open and honest communication. So this makes it very easy for the employee to practice that behavior or maybe some other behavior that gets elevated I would say in a list of anywhere from six to ten behaviors, that if you do these things you know that it’s going to help create that culture that you want. So I guess the short answer, I don’t know if it makes sense, is part of the change process is to create certain behaviors and values that everyone will recognize if practiced will help everyone to take the organization to the next place. So it makes it easier so that there’s not an interpersonal conflict here; what you’re doing is actually practicing a behavior that the corporation has endorsed as something meaningful, valuable and will help you get to the next level.
Susan Bratton: All right, this is our last question. We’ve gone long David, which is fine, but I’m always sensitive to how busy my listeners are and that they have a lot of things to do. They’ve got to go change the world, not just learn how to do it. So walk us through one by one by one the seven arts for successful change, what they are and how they manifest.
David Shaner: Okay. Well I’ll do it very briefly. And if I may, I’m really happy with a book website that’s simply davidshaner.com, and in there there are also little chapter summaries that I’ll just kind of speak to that’s loaded with information, with endorsements, with press coverage, with video even of various presentations on these topics. So let me just walk through really and brief. The first art we’ve just been talking about actually, the art of preparation. That’s kind of the assessment phase. That’s the interview phase. A change process has to begin where the people actually are. Now that sounds, you know, a fluffy philosophy, but what I mean by that is you need to understand the mindset that is currently addicted to the way in which we’ve always done things. If you have a change initiative and you start it from the top down and you don’t really understand where the employee base is at the present time, what do they really think, then all of your efforts are going to be misguided and they’re not going to be embraced by the people. So the art of preparation is to really know your audience. It’s like giving a good talk. You might want to say, before I give the talk your hosts who are inviting you to speak, you might ask them, “What would be a successful outcome of this talk.” That is, “What do you want me to speak about? How would you like the audience to think and feel when I’m done?” Well that’s the same thing as the art of preparation. You want to understand where is the target audience of this change process coming from. Once you understand that – that’s the first art, preparation – the second art is the art of compassion, which is just a philosophical word that in business language would be genuine meaningful participation. It’s a compassionate thing to do to actually ask people to participate in the change process as opposed to simply being told what to do. So when you invite people into the change process and you want them to think and act like an owner, the compassionate thing to do is to give them a lot of training and development and the tools that they need to perform to the best of their ability. So that’s real participation and it’s also a compassionate thing to do. The third art is the art of responsibility, and you mentioned this in the opening comments. You want people to feel responsible to produce results to the best of their ability when no one is watching. That’s the key. Because in business we usually use the word ‘accountable’ – “I’m holding you accountable. You have to get these numbers, and if you don’t, you know, I’m going to hold you accountable.” That’s almost like a fear language. But being internally motivated means I can be responsible because I’m going to take that action because I have an inner commitment to being the best that I can be at work. And so the art of responsibility is really when 100% of the people have embraced the company challenge, they embrace the difficulty of that challenge and they’re going to hold themselves responsible. They don’t need a senior manager to hold them accountable. The fourth art – and this is going to sound really strange in a business environment – it’s the art of relaxation. Why is this next? I find that companies are nothing other than a bunch of people who have energy everyday, and that energy is either focused and on strategy or it could be people are doing things out of fear or confusion or they’re doing things that are really creating non value added work to the bottom line. The art of relaxation is the same thing a world class athlete has. Unless you’re relaxed, you cannot perform to the best of your ability, especially at an important time like it’s the Superbowl or the World Series or, you know, what have you. Any athlete understands that they’re going to perform to the best of their ability when they’re relaxed. Well if we’re in the workplace and I want every single employee to be a world class, you know, performer at what they do, they should also be relaxed. Well how can they be relaxed at work? You take the fear away. You take the stress away and you replace it with clarity. Because they understand the strategy, you replace it with focus. Because people know exactly what to do everyday it’s creating value added work and visibility. That is you share the scorecard. You share the numbers in any athletic endeavor. People, you know, that I am familiar with, people want to keep score. That visibility of keeping score helps people to be on track. So the art of relaxation, the fourth art, is really clarity, visibility and focus – clarity of the mission, visibility of the numbers, we know how we’re doing, and I can be very focused on what’s important as opposed to being distracted because I’m operating out of fear. So that’s the art of relaxation. If you do all four of those arts well, the fifth art, I call it the art of conscious action. That’s simply nothing other than everyone is now able to execute consciously, because they have clarity, focus and visibility, as opposed to executing unconsciously, which means they’re uninformed, they don’t have the tools, they’re not sure how to succeed and they’re fearful of their job or their neighbor or the guy in the next apartment. So the art of conscious action is when you have an organization that consistently quarter after quarter can execute the business plan because you’ve created this culture of world class performance. The next, sixth art, I call it the art of working naturally. What is that? Lets go back to the idea that we’re all addicted, that all of us are addicted to the way in which we’ve always done things. Once you turn that company around and once you create a pique performing environment, people feel literally as if they’ve overcome an addiction. And whenever someone has overcome an addiction to alcohol or narcotics or even child abuse, something like that, when someone has overcome successfully an addiction it is human nature for them to share that success with other people. And what I have found in the art of working naturally is for a real business to succeed you also have suppliers and customers on both ends of kind of the value chain. So what you do is you’ve taken this internal group of people and you’ve created this high performance culture and you’ve overcome lets say an addiction of the way in which you’ve always done things, so now working naturally is why not bring in your key suppliers? Why not bring in your customers strategically to help the enterprise end to end to get better? So the art of working naturally is to extend this kind of seven arts philosophy to the people from whom you might be buying raw materials or technology or you might be developing intellectual property together you might be sharing RND expenditures to develop new products. So all this is is it’s kind of like someone whose overcome an addiction is so excited about it they want to share it with others. And so in large organizations, for example a consumer products company like Duracell or Gillette, they might spend 70% of their cash on raw materials, so why not bring in, that’s an extraordinary investment of millions or billions of dollars. Why not create partnerships with those companies to strategically create likeminded cultures where everyone is thinking and performing with clarity, visibility and focus. And then finally once you’ve got the whole enterprise working at world-class levels, the art of service, the last art, is just a matter of giving back. Companies know that it’s not just that they should be, you know, philanthropic because it looks good, you know, on the marketing plan, but if you’re employing people at various places around the country or around the world why not be a good citizen and give back to the communities that your employees work in such that they’re going to feel pride in their work, they’re going to know that their company is benefiting, you know, local causes in the communities where you might have sales offices and retail offices and manufacturing plants. And all that’s going to do is breed continued goodwill that in turn, guess what, the best talent is going to want to migrate to your company because they hear about all the good things that you do at this company and how the company is not greedy but willing to give back. And so those are the seven arts that actually, as I’ve explained them, occur in sequence such as each builds upon the rest starting with the art of preparation and finally ending with the art of service, which is just a matter of giving back.
Susan Bratton: I’m inspired very much by the way that you’ve created these seven arts, and I like how uplifting they are for every individual in the organization. I like that business has a higher purpose than just the business itself. It has a purpose to its employees to raise them up and a purpose to the vendors and the customers to raise them up. I like the way you imbue compassion and generosity in the approach that you take to change, which change can be so fraught with fear, and you’ve just done that beautiful Ki-Aikido reversal on fear, right…
David Shaner: Yeah.
Susan Bratton: You’ve turned fear into stepping into a higher way of approaching and holding the fear for other people in being present yourself to it and being willing to step higher in how you manage through it. I like that a lot.
David Shaner: Well Susan, thank you very much. I’m so grateful. I mean you get it, and you’re very eloquent as well. You’re very good to summarize it in fewer words than I am ‘cause I just get so excited about it. But thank you for those kind comments. And I do feel that these principles resonate with people…
Susan Bratton: They do.
David Shaner: It’s not a buzzword, it’s not a gimmick…
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
David Shaner: It appeals to values that I think everyone knows in their heart of hearts just make sense. And it’s kind of amazing when people read the book they go, “You know, why didn’t I think of that, you know. There’s nothing in here I didn’t already know. I just never put it together and packaged it in this way.”
Susan Bratton: That’s right. It’s just the way that you put it together at that level that makes the work that you do in the world important and valuable for everybody. I really like that a lot. So I want to let my listeners know that you can find out more about the book and David at davidshaner.com, and that’s s-h-a-n-e-r, davidshaner.com. You’ll enjoy some of his Ki-Aikido moves too. He’s got some martial arts video, which I particularly appreciate. I also have a copy of The Seven Arts of Change: Leading Business Transformation That Lasts for you. If you’d like to win a copy of the book please post on the DishyMix fan page on Facebook. Just search for DishyMix or go to facebook.com/dishymix and you’ll find me. And if you’d like the copy post it, I’ll select a winner and make sure you get a copy of this fantastic book. David, thank you so much for coming on DishyMix today. It was a pleasure to have you.
David Shaner: Thank you Susan. It was a pleasure for me as well.
Susan Bratton: All right, I’m your host, Susan Bratton. Thanks again for tuning in. I know we went long, and I hope it was particularly valuable and inspiring for you as it was for me. I hope you’ll connect with me next week as well as I’m sure I’ll have on someone else equally fascinating in another area of your world. So thanks for spending your time with us today. Have a great one. Bye-bye.