I attended the third phase of the Management Development Programme organised by the company HR from 19-23 March at the Residence Hotel in UNITEN. I was very happy about the choice for the course location this time because driving from home, the travelling time is only about 40 minutes thanks to the LDP and the NKVE highways. I did not have to battle the rush hour traffic in the morning unlike last time when the location was at the MIM building in Jalan Ampang.
The first three days of the MDP programme focussed on the topic of change as the title aptly named "How to Manage and Lead Change with Impact". The instructor for this topic was Dr Lai Chong Teng, an associate consultant to the MIM. Dr Lai has more than 34 years hands-on experience in various management skills such as managerial in leadership development, customer service management, change management, process and quality management. He used to work in Telekom Malaysia and has vast experience working in overseas in particular with Telecom South Africa and Skytel.
Dr. Lai's lectures were geared towards the company's effort to introduce change. He described the T-7 project embarked by the company in a very informative and structured manner. Honestly speaking, before listening to his lectures, I was a bit confused and at times tend to ridicule the company's agenda of change. How could you not be baffled when you see so many posters and billboards telling you to change at places like the toilets everywhere at the office? I was told initially those posters were even sticked at men urinals before finally being removed due to internal complaints! Nonetheless, the T-7 initiative was actually designed with a noble intention but I think the task of communicating the intents to the masses was poorly executed.
We often heard that it is not the changes we take, but it’s the choice we make that determines our destiny.True to some extend but whether we want it or not, change is inevitable. We either change or be changed and the whole change process actually starts with a VISION. As in life, what drives us to continue working hard is the thought of becoming materially or physically better at some point in our life. Sometimes, we work hard just to survive. But to become better, we must change in many ways.
Almost constantly, we need to change our lifestyle or habits and sometimes we may even need to change our perception on others. Like Mahatma Gandhi put it, "Be the change you are trying to create". Change is never easy and there will always be many resistance towards change, even from our ownselves. For the company, the Vision as described by the current management is to be " among the leading corporations in energy and related businesses globally by 2025" and this vision is staggered into three milestones of Becoming the Best in Malaysia by 2007 (T-7), Becoming the Best in the Region (10/10), and becoming a global player by 2025. In order to achieve the vision and the targetted milestones, systematic way to chart the progress and acheivement towards along the way must be formulated.
Dr. Lai described in detail about the change agenda of the company in a very systematic way. According to him, there are basically four steps towards a systematic implementation of a change programme. I like to summarize the four steps in the following manner for the benefit of all.
Envision of Journey-->Light the Path-->Mobilize Resources-->Leverage the Gain
The Envision of Journey consists of 3 main principles involving the following.
Creating a Change Leadership Team--Escalate the Urgency--Clarify Vision
Light the Path is essentially strategizing the steps towards the vision and consists of 4 main principles as following.
Formulate Strategy--Identify Initiative--Develop Roadmap--Communicate Change
Mobilize the Resource is about managing resistance towards change and consists of 3 main agenda listed as following
Formalize Structure--Deliver Result--Manage Resistance and Barriers
Leverage the Gain can only occur after all the above have been achieved and it consists of 2 main ideas:
Increase Change Momentum--Anchor Change in Culture
During the three days, Dr Lai showed us numerous examples of how change in people and culture can have impact to the well being of an organisation. There were also several video presentations on change management and I think those videos are really cool as a training aids.
Out of so many ideas, philosophical thoughts and qoutations thrown to us, the one that struck me the most is on the question about " Should the change in the culture of an organisation comes first before we can change or vice-versa ?". According to Dr Lai, it's better to change the people first. Changing culture is just like changing a habit and bad culture is about bad habit. To change a bad habit, we need to change many things, environment, process, work attitude and also perception. Once those are changed, we will see a new culture being developed and that is what actually any management would like to see. Now I can better understand why the company is nagging on those having thier daily breakfast in the canteen every morning. This habit of taking a break in the canteen is in the management's view points, a bad habit that needs eradication and they also see this as a barrier to thier vision. How do we change this ? I'll leave it to you to ponder.
At the end of the three day course, Dr Lai asked us to eveluate a case study on change management as a group. IMHO, the case study was fairly starightforward and was not really a brain-cracker to say the least. We were also asked to take a simple objective type quiz to test our understanding what had been taught in class. Unfortunately, I could not say that I am proud of what I got in that test :-((...it just showed that I really need a change in my attitude towards managing courses like this in the future..
Well, after three days of intense lecture on change, I can only conclude that change management is all about changing's people attitude towards becoming more organised and desciplined. As long as we are alive and have to deal with people, we will never cease from having attitude problems facing us as we ourselves, are also human. Patience, perseverence and honesty are a must if we are to impact change on others. After all, leadership is not about exerting authority but about effecting our influence on others, and what better way to achieve that none other than we change ourselves first.
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