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Home > Business > Special


Principles of a visionary leader

Surinder Kapur | June 26, 2007

My last article detailed the first two principles by Shoji Shiba, which help identify the need for transformation in an organisation. Now I will elaborate on Principles Three, Four and Five, which relate to initiating the process of transformation in an organisation.

Transformation begins with the symbolic disruption of the old or traditional system through top-down efforts to create chaos within the organisation. This is Shiba and Dave Walden's Principle Three for a visionary leader.

This is the process of disrupting the existing business, putting a new mental model in place, and beginning to force change consistent with the new direction.

For instance, when Seiko wanted to set its organisation transformation in motion, it transferred one-third of a division to other divisions, encouraged almost another one-third to take early retirement, and recruited an equal number of people into the organisation.

In 2003, TechNova had made major investments in new plants. However, chairman Pranav Parekh felt that investments in technology alone would not be enough to achieve sustainable growth in the globally competitive scenario.

He knew the way the company worked and the work practices being followed would have to change for the company to achieve global competitiveness. TechNova thus joined the First CII Prof Shiba Learning Community to initiate its organisation transformation.

To demonstrate his commitment to transformation, the first thing Parekh did was to select a person from the operations department to become a "real change" leader and work on breakthrough projects.

This person had a high success rate in various initiatives, held high credibility and was well respected in the organisation. Given these attributes, he was one of the best choices to become a real change leader. This was the first symbolic step at TechNova to send out the message about organisation transformation.

The next principle to follow, Principle Four, in initiating the crucial organisation transformation is demonstrated by a symbolic visible image and by the visionary leader's symbolic behaviour.

TechNova's Parekh was serious about the organisation transformation and was convinced that following Shiba's tools would help his company arrive at solutions to problems.

Parekh himself started practising Shiba's methodologies such as the Five-Step Discovery Process and the Seven-Step Problem-Solving tools. This encouraged the CEO and the others as well to follow in his footsteps. The team also started using the Seven Infrastructure tools of goal setting, training and development and so on.

Following these two principles comes Shiba's Principle Five, which is essential to initiating transformation in an organisation. This principle states, "the quick establishment of new physical, organisational and behavioural systems is essential for successful transformation."

At Sona Koyo, for instance, we set up the QS department and conducted regular gap analysis as well as ensured that on a monthly basis, the company reviewed the progress along with Professor Yoshikazu Tsuda.

These are often situational changes but one behavioural change that is very useful is the adoption of a common language, which subconsciously drives people's thinking in the direction of the goal. Often, there is a disconnect with the innovation project; a new common language can help bridge this gap.

This is especially true in the case of a multinational organisation facing the problem of cultural differences. In such a case, a common language helps build a common organisation culture making it easier for all to accept the transformation. The common language can often be used to diffuse the desired direction for the organisation and can also be used to publicise the branding of the organisation.

So what really sets the transformation rolling after identification of the need for transformation is a symbolic behaviour of the visionary leader as well as putting in place behavioural, organisational and physical systems. The task almost always begins with some symbolic disruption of the existing or old system to display commitment and seriousness towards the transformation.

In the next article, I will end my discussion on Shiba's Eight Principles for organisation transformation.

Dr Surinder Kapur is chairman, CII Mission for Manufacturing Innovation, and chairman and managing director, Sona Koyo Steering Systems [Get Quote].


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