Respect the minds of people by going to where the action is – a fundamental rule of change management

All through my professional life, I have been connected to improving something on the shop floor — be it a machine, process or a quality problem.

And I have seen that it is very difficult to improve anything on the shop floor by just passing down verbal instructions or by commanding someone to do something or by conducting a training program in a classroom or handing over a well-documented piece of paper complete with all instructions and a to-do list.

In most cases, people don’t get the idea. As a result, workers on the shop floor soon lose interest in the improvement process and don’t like engineers and managers who just pass down orders sitting at their desks. Respect for engineers and engineering is soon lost. And improvements don’t take place. The company suffers as a result.

Respect for engineers and engineering comes from respecting the minds of workers and supervisors.

This is best done by engineers going down to the area of the shop floor where the improvement is to be made and then explain what they want the workers and supervisors to do and what exactly is to be done. It can be explained verbally by physically touching the parts or equipment where the improvements are to be made or through rough sketches quickly drawn on scraps of paper to instantly clarify the points.

This is an important point in making a change, which is often forgotten by engineers. I call this rule — ‘Respect the minds of people by going to where the action is.”

Daily Management

The idea of Daily Management runs deep in any organization.

Most top managers believe that some amount of routine work must be performed to keep the organization running. At times, the attitude is ‘more the better’. And everyone must be loaded with some routine jobs to be done on a daily basis.

The belief is so strong that ‘Daily Management’ is institutionalized in forms of check sheets, various forms, ledgers, routines, repeated tasks, regular audits, etc.

Most managers take this way of working as equivalent of implementing a desired ‘system’.

Over time, such routines become so fossilized that bringing in desired changes appropriate to changed circumstances becomes difficult.

What is missed out is the essence of ‘Daily Management’.

Daily Management is not only about doing some prescribed tasks on a regular basis but also improving upon those every day.

And Daily Management must only be focused on core activities that produced desired long-term results that help build sustainability and resilience in an organization.

In this way change management, which most argue is extremely difficult to start and carry out, is easily embedded in the organizational culture enabling an organization to be sustainable and resilient.

Is Change Constantly Desirable?

We are generally made to believe that ‘change is the only constant’ and it is so good for our well-being that we must adopt it as soon as possible.

In our professional lives it is drummed loudly into our ears in measurable daily doses by bosses, managers and élite professionals. This myth has been repeated so many zillion times that we have grown to accept it as a truth.

The reason professionals keep harping on this myth and make it sound so real is the hidden strategic motive of manipulating others to align with their line of thinking so that the exercise of power becomes easier with a change of mindset.

But as we look around us we find so many things that don’t seem to change or are not desirable to change.

For example, who would like to change the Taj Mahal for whatever it is — to make it more beautiful or more attractive to tourists?

Or for instance, who would like the French vineyards to disappear overnight for some real estate development depriving us of the fine wine and champagne?

Or who would like to change sexual relationship between men and women for the sake of some great ‘spiritual’ attainment of human society or for the sake of containing global warming?

So, in any context of human activity it is a mix of ‘change’ and ‘desirable permanence’.  And the two create what we know as culture.

While contemplating a change two important questions seem to be in order:

1. Does it help me and others to create more leisure time to pursue attainment of my potential as an ethical human being?

2. Have I and/or others related to me, come to the edge of doing something that does not offer any more happiness and love?

Leaders must pay careful attention to this aspect. If they are on a blind and thoughtless mission to zealously change everything they come across they would soon land into a big mess from where it would be difficult for them to come out. It would then create unnecessary ‘stress’ in whatever community or society they run to decimate material conditions, happiness and love of the collective. Such leaders, for the right reasons, soon get kicked out or aren’t respected anymore.

If so, the very purpose of leading a creative life would be lost.


Nobody can make great changes on your behalf like no one can write your love letters though I sometimes wrote some for others and as expected such affairs fell through.

No one can become an expert leader on your behalf even with the best advisers and henchmen around.

It is the same with organizations and their leaders.

And it is the same with societies.

All real changes are so smooth, even if discontinuous or sudden, that one doesn’t even feel it coming and taking over since self replaces self, which is always in a state of becoming.

Changes are extensions of our natural tendency towards free exchanges of our potential and our innate desire for freedom.