Program Reflections – February 11, 2012

Understanding the structure of an organization, along with the method in which it operates is the way I believe someone can initiate positive change. For many years, I have seen opportunity for new developments in organizations I have been in. These ideas range from a brand renovation for camps, to launching a new website, to creating an employee management system for my employer, and to developing interactive digital signs. Through these initiatives, I have created proposals and gone through numerous meetings to discuss the viability of such changes.

The reason that the Ignite program was appealing to me was the fact that it focused on understanding organizational development and how to lead/sustain change initiatives. Many of my proposals have been successful and used, but many have been turned down. My hope was that Ignite would give me an insight as to more effectively share my idea and initiate the change needed.

With the use of systems thinking in the Ignite program, I now have a steady foundation that I can look back upon, when putting together a proposal for a new concept. Before sharing the idea, asking the simple questions of who/what will be affected by the change idea and what are the unintended consequences of this change. Similar to what I have done in the real world, Ignite gave me an opportunity to make a “pitch” for a change idea that I drafted up during the training session. This real-life like exercise helped me refine my sales skills and better adapt my message to the audience I am talking with.

Also, Ignite helped me focus on my project and program effectiveness goal of the PDP. Specifically, as I continue to put together proposals for ideas that I come up with, I now always try to adapt my message specifically to how my concept is going to help make the project or program more effective. During the 2012 summer break, I was fortunate enough to intern with Hormel Foods as a production supervisor. Much of responsibility was to inspire the employees to work together and increase productivity on a specific product packaging line. The tenure of employees ranged greatly, with one of the team members set to retire the day that I completed my internship. A major challenge I faced was changing the established status quo of “efficient” to a higher standard.

The preparation of my “sales pitch” skills gained in Ignite helped me bring together the team, while selling them on the idea that it is possible to improve productivity, inadvertently making their lives easier. Open communication and willingness to listen were key aspects to my success. Also, I consistently included the line employees in the change process and conceptualizing. Through minor adjustments and a close eye on details, our team was able to increase productivity by 8% in one month’s time.

As Ignite exposed, it took many qualities and relationships for me to achieve success and have the non-management team on my side. I used the traditional “conflicting interests” to my advantage and attempted to create a new attitude and culture within the department.