Empirical People Control 5

With Empirical Process Control our experience through iterative and incremental development helps us to adjust the activities and standard work to achieve better efficiency and predictability.

We need to be careful if based on our experience we would create something like “Empirical People Control” where the experience without new learning is a burden for leaders (and all others around).

Control is traditionally based on managers telling others what to do, monitoring it…and still frequently – telling how to do it. Some call it micromanagement.  By doing so we don’t really appreciate and inspire people so that they capture why they should do what we tell and want them to do. So, they simply don’t do what they are told.

Aubrey C. Daniels describes this in the book Bringing out the best in people: How to apply the astonishing power of positive reinforcementand explains in detail how we behave and run our businesses. He emphasizes the situation where people don’t want to, or they don’t know how to, or simply they don’t care whether problems might be solved in a more efficient way. How they enter such a state of mind Aubrey explains through the claim that consequences change the rate or frequency of a behavior. He groups these behavior consequences into the four categories as shown on the figure:

Behavior and consequences (source Aubrey C. Daniels)

Getting something you want is a positive reinforcement or a motivation to reach some wanted state. To my experience, even stronger motivation comes with the negative reinforcement when we try to escape from the evil – something we don’t want. Since we hate punishment and penalties, i.e. the things we lose or the things we don’t want, we try to reduce such behaviors.

Our management thinking patterns and human resource processes should be a subject of constant adjustments towards building creative and positively reinforced people. What people do daily is what is being reinforced. Control of people does not contribute to the frequency of the behaviors imposed by it. On the other side a visual control that promotes transparency, easy access of information and obviousness as a consequences, creates trust and stimulate repetition of such behavior/practices. In the same pot we can put the servant leadership as explained in the Are You Trying to Tell Me I Should Serve? blog.

So what do we reinforce tomorrow? – I hope that you already started thinking!

More info can be found on: http://aubreydaniels.com/blog/


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