#ANEWNORM - Manage the Cause, Not the Result

22.12.2021 6 Min Read
Giorgi Lominadze

Competence Lead, Lean Management

#ANEWNORM - Manage the Cause, Not the Result

Manage the cause, not the result – this phrase belongs to the founder of Total Quality Management, William Edwards Deming. Total Quality Management is a concept, designed to create such an environment for the entire organizational staff, where the employees are given the floor to continuously develop and build their capacity and skills in order to born valuable products and services for their customers. Even though this phrase sounds short and simple, it dramatically transforms the behavior paradigm dominating nowadays.

Literary, in almost every organization we find a manager who does not like to hear about problems, and the employee bringing that issue to the agenda is usually doomed to be placed off. The way how a Manager behaves, in this case, serves as a sign to others meaning that talking over the issues is supposedly far not appreciated. Accordingly, all the employees use to try to represent any point in a positive context and whenever an issue arises due to mistakes made or due to an unaccomplished project, the Manager rebukes the employee, in another case, detains part of his salary or even dismisses him altogether. All the said above serves as a good example of Managing the Result and the way how to combat it. In some organizations, such behavior is so much appreciated, that rebuking the employee and/or posing sanctions on him is considered a “good management” example so far. Such behavior, as a rule, restrains from identifying a real cause, meaning that the issue cannot be solved and it will inevitably show up again.

Transformation of the existing paradigm actually starts when a process becomes the main target, instead of assessing the employee’s fault. The processes taking place within the organization are the very place where the causes keep generating while leaving the space for the employees to make mistakes and perform their work inefficiently. Any process within the organization should serve to the creation of values for the customers and/or to the reduction of the risks of making mistakes at least. Thus, any process or any part of the process which does not serve to achieve either of these two goals mentioned above can be qualified as a loss. This kind of loss being accumulated through the flow of the processes usually causes a decline in the efficiency of the company and hampers the accomplishment of major goals.

To identify and manage the losses found in the processes it is necessary to learn the opinions of the employees actually involved in those processes, as they are carriers of the valuable information required for finding the actual causes. The fact is that whenever an employee is scared by the “follow-up punishment”, he tries to share possibly less information in consideration that each extra word uttered can eventually lead to more severe “punishment”. Therefore, the first priority of the company is to give the employees a sense of security. To achieve the above, we need to openly announce that mentioning the deficiencies and losses existing in the process will in no way lead to the punishment and setting off the employees concerned. It is most important to each employee to know that his voice is heard and he can express his opinion freely without any restrictions. It is significant that this process should not be shaped into the talks about winning the mark and endless complaints, though each deficiency or deviation discussed should be grounded and based on actual facts.

While having the said discussions it is important to depersonalize the processes and the steps undertaken. This approach can easy the way the employees talk over any action or when a certain employee refers to a specific action or a part of the process as a loss. It never causes a sense of discomfort or does not lead to conflict situations in most cases. It is important that everyone agrees on that if any action undertaken in the process is acknowledged as a failure, it does not inevitably mean that the employee who made it, is of no good.

As a rule, discussing the processes and the conversations around the topic take place in the meeting room or at the Manager’s Office. This is where the employees often dispute over the ways of the flow of the processes. To avoid such meaningless and ineffective disputes would not it be better if simply everyone just starts observing the process and agrees that the process is like the one that everybody sees. This behavior may even help the Manager sitting in his office to see and feel what are the challenges his employees have to deal with. While “overseeing” the processes the questions put by the Manager should in no way imply the threat within but indicate the readiness to show support and compassion. The openhearted and sincere gratitude expressed by the Manager to his employees for their answers and their time will significantly grow the confidence of the employees towards the process.

As soon as the agreement on the process and the losses identified within is achieved, there comes the necessity of making changes. It is important to ensure the involvement of the employees in planning for the changes as this will make them feel more responsible for the process is a part of it and when the process is successful they even may feel proud of it. Fear of changes is common to all humans and you can often hear the accompanying words like “it is of no good,” “it will not work” etc. To avoid such an approach, it is important that the employees involved in the process understand that everybody is “on board” (“in the same boat”) and they all share the responsibility for its success or failure. Make efforts to promote the way of thinking, where the questions like “how it could be done?”, “What is needed to make this possible?”, “What is the cost of this getting accomplished?” or “let us try and then discuss will it work or not” dominate.

The next powerful enemy to the possible changes to be made to the process and a spot generating causes for losses definitely - is the inheritance of the actions within the process. We often come across the mechanical actions performed by the employees unconsciously. This is peculiar to the kind of organizations where putting of the question “Why?” is not much appreciated. The organization’s aim is to ensure that each employee is motivated and encouraged to put a constructive question “Why?” To put this question in a due manner and to appreciate it means that everyone in the organization is constantly watching and finding the losses and brainstorming on how to correct the issue.

General Diagram of the constant process of identifying the losses and making improvements looks like the one below:

On the long way of constant changes to the process we should always remember the following:

Acknowledgment of the problem means getting it solved by 70%

99% of the problems are caused by the poorly organized process and not by the employees

Wisdom and experience of the many weigh way too much rather than that of one man

Make a try first and only then say whether “it does work or not”

There are no limits, improvement of the process can be endless

According to Heraclitus: “The only constant in life is change.” Today these words make more sense than ever. The changes can be painful but they are inevitable.

Relying on the support of the executive branch, a united effort of the employees on the way towards the improvement of the process is actually the key to a successful accomplishment of the company’s goals. Research and Consulting Company ACT tested this concept first within its own organization and only after shaping it into the unique transformational and management model PWR3, which is widely offered now to the company’s clients. Back in 2021, the company launched a great transformational process, where the main three forces – Managers and their philosophy, employees and the organizational culture, and well-administered processes collaborated to make the common mechanism work. It is obvious, that rearrangements to move to the said mode of thinking and starting transformational processes will not be that easy, though everybody agrees that changes are needed for moving forward and achieving greater goals.

If you get the same results as last year and you guess you need improvements, we are here to remind you, please, could you appraise: how actual is the point of view of Heraclitus today, regarded as The New Norm.

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„Culture is not just one aspect of the game – It is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.“
Lou Gerstner, Jr. – IBM

We often come across of such a statement, in today’s world a transformation is not a choice, it is a new norm and whether you want it or not, the companies could not survive without it. But when is the best time to really transform an organization? Is it enough just to look at and look through the future of the industry and develop a new vision of the company to meet a new reality? Obviously, taking steps without having the right vision is more like wandering blindly in the forest, though in line with the vision it is most important to guess how sufficiently equipped we are; how much our values, competencies, skills, systems, or any other resources are capable to support us to follow the path to our future company with minor losses and essential creativity.

It is probably no news to anyone to say that the real transformation begins with one’s self. By realizing and analyzing the company's own leadership qualities, values, limiting beliefs and thoughts, and feeling its role and importance in the new vision of the company, the internal shifts that lead us to the first steps on the path of the change begin.

The key questions in the transformation process sound like this - where am I today and where do I want to be? What prevents me from getting where I want to get? What will help me to walk this path with minor losses and an environmentally friendly way? What are my leadership qualities and skills and what is my leadership energy like? In which role can I best demonstrate them?

These questions are quite difficult to answer, and if the company could not afford to create a field where the internal search process is invigorated, then the answers might also be superficial. Creating this field is the basis of a transformational organizational culture, and only on such a basement can a culture be built that can breathe with live, create and make a system shape accordingly to ensure the realization of a company's vision through the realization of individual human capabilities. The values in such a culture have a leading role where there is a vivid consensus in understanding them. All this is translated into the language of common game rules in daily activities, which is one of the major conditions to achieve the best results.

In today's fast-paced and unforeseeable world, revision of the structures and positions of the companies that have been successful for years but have lost their flexibility is now even more urgent and can no longer adequately respond to the challenges faced in the surrounding environment. Today it can be that in the same position, in the same company, different competencies and skills are prioritized for different time periods and that too is never enough. That is why it is extremely important to understand the roles together with the positions, to strengthen the team leadership along with the individual leadership, to meet the expectations instead of writing the detailed descriptions of functions and duties, to bring in the best results, to create projects to be done and to execute them as it is supposed according to project rules.

Too often in the companies where hierarchical systems are strictly determined, employees feel like being trapped within their own positions, often finding it difficult to see and recognize that the organizational vertical limits their ability to fully express themselves and their interests, while the brilliant results are achieved through flexible systems based on teamwork principles. In such hierarchical systems, the rules are canonized while the employees do not understand their importance, and the rules are followed without any enthusiasm, where it is forced, or even ignored, while horizontal arrangement and team principles vitalize the rule. The rule and the system can be understood not as a punishment, or as a hindrance, but as a support in order to do our job best. These are the changes that ACT underwent in the first stage of its transformation, as a result of which the organizational culture in the company today is a clear example of a living order.

Team play is seen as an integral part of a transformational organizational culture. It requires understanding and respect for your own and team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Successful team play is impossible without the ability to open up, recognize failure and success, share and self-reflection. It is also important to know how to speak a common language so that we do not lose our uniqueness; how to balance each other and overcome a task, the success of which often depends on the competence, skill, responsibility and concerted work of many people. Team leadership also implies the understanding of the fact that even the best qualities of a person can become a barrier if he is not in the right place and in the right role, and that all qualities are equally important for a magnificent success.

The Companies where equal importance is given to both the results and the way in which these results are achieved; as well as the Companies that are equally centered on the outside and the inside environment, achieve more glorious results, are innovators, and are resilient to storms threatened from the outside world.

ACT's unique management model, named The Power of Three, allows us to simultaneously see and implement the need for management and transformation in three areas. A real transformation is possible only if you have a clear vision of where you are going, and share the relevant values needed to realize that vision while they should come right from your heart. This could be done best through the development of systems and enforcement mechanisms. In such a model, the culture is congruent and organic to each employee of the company and ensures the maintenance of vitality and sustainability.


# ANEWNORM: How to Turn a Transformation Process into a Guarantee of the Company’s Success?

Research and Consulting Company ACT has launched a video column #ANEWNORM, where the current issues of modern days are discussed. For instance, why are changes inevitable today and how can you turn a transformation process into a guarantee of success for you and your company? In just five minutes, Tinatin Rukhadze, ACT's Vision Lead will talk to you about it.


Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.


Backsliding occurs when there is no progress. Stability does not equal the absence of change, it is only the result of sustainable development. In the digital age, the world is changing at an astonishing rate, and businesses are left with two choices: to either glide on the waves of change like surfers or to disappear under them.

The pandemic has accelerated the cascade of change even more – it changed people, their emotions, social life, and priorities. As a result, the business ecosystem and the rules of the game have also changed, including different industry perspectives, demand for products and services, consumer behavior and preferences, product/service selection criteria, supply channels, brand communication content and style: to put it concisely, everything has changed.

As a result, it is hard to come across a business that does not require a business model or organizational transformation in order to survive or, conversely, to seize new opportunities. The success of a business today is directly related to how timely it acknowledges the need for transformation and how well it manages this very process.

There are multiple signs that indicate the need for transformation in a company's business model or organizational setting. 6 unmistakable symptoms are as follows:

  • Failure to seize the potential of the market and unsatisfactory growth rate;
  • Slowing down of the growth rate/tendency of downsizing;
  • Declining of the dynamics of efficiency and profitability;
  • The outflow of valuable staff or an unhealthy organizational climate;
  • Lack of creativity and innovation;
  • Feeling of stagnation, “walking in circles” or backsliding;

Let us be more specific: if you have not enjoyed the results of your business or the situation in the company for a long time, but despite various attempts, you are unable to change the unwanted status quo, know that the company is in a desperate need of transformation.

Recognizing and acknowledging the need for transformation is a necessary but insufficient condition for the success of a business. It is important for the company’s management team to understand that transformation is so much more than a change of individual parts; rather, the transformation has to be complete.

Analyzing several cases of failure reveals that most companies make a fatal mistake at this very point: they are trying to localize the problem, solve it effectively with minimal costs, or seize the opportunity with minimal resources and outdated approaches. Behind this, of course, are rational motives such as saving time, cost-effectiveness, following a path that has been taken before, the ambition to find the quickest solutions, and more.

However, this approach is ultimately very costly for the company due to it being impossible to achieve large transformational outcomes with small changes. As a result, the company will have wasted its resources or even worse: with the unsuccessful attempts, the company’s management team becomes frustrated, ultimately leading to the shaking of trust and sowing nihilism among the employees when it comes to the company’s management and its future in general.

We have been observing the process of business transformation in ACT for 19 years both in and outside of Georgia. We have accumulated experience and have created a unique model of organizational transformation and management, which we call “the Power of Three”. According to the philosophy of PWR3, the success of any kind of transformation depends on the unity, balance and permanence of these three forces: the power of creativity, the power of order and the power of change.

In the organizational context, we consider three main driving forces of company development and success: (1) vision – (creativity), (2) culture – (order) and (3) execution – (change).

According to our approach, the transformation of a company begins with the renewal of its vision. The second stage of change is the formation of an organizational culture relevant to this new vision, while the third stage of change regards the transformation of organizational systems, processes, and the mobilization of resources needed to achieve new vision and goals.

Our model offers the organization leadership to think and make decisions consistent with regards to these three dimensions: vision, culture, execution. We believe that the decisions bringing the best results are the ones that: 1) serve the company’s vision and main goals, whilst 2) aligning with the company’s values and taking into account the interests of its employees, and 3) the company has to have tangible resources needed for the execution. In other words, PWR3 is not only a model for the transformation of the organization, but also for its effective management, helping the management of the company make consistent and effective decisions, which, in turn, contributes to the sustainable development of the company.

THE POWER OF THREE®’s unique philosophy, model and working principles enables ACT to play a special role in transforming its customers. As a result of PWR3®, the signs of transformation in the organization are clear and visible:

  • Employees ignited by the sense of mission.
  • Common vision and priorities, effective managerial solutions.
  • Organizational values and norms of behaviour are respected and shared by all employees.
  • Increased creativity and innovation.
  • Processes for people and results, not process for the process itself.
  • Focus on customers and creating maximum value for them.
  • Achieving goals, growing and developing.
  • Establishing self-confidence, development and awareness of success in leadership.
  • Improving financial performance.

PWR3 is the power of change that, on the one hand, helps organizations become more resilient in the face of new challenges and, on the other hand, boosts their creativity and openness towards opportunities. We believe that along with a sense of the uniqueness of the mission, it is these qualities that make good companies into extraordinary ones.

See the original article here.