September 25, 2020

In-Cycle, Next-Cycle, New-Cycle, and Me-Cycle: Put people in their place and they will thank you!!!

         An In-Cycle person is someone you rely on when the process needs to be done the same way, every time, every day. A typical conversation with a really good In-Cycle person goes something like this:

         Don’t you get bored doing this the same way all the time.
No.
         Really?
Really.
         But, I mean you do the same thing every day.
So?
         Well, I mean day in and day out you…

         Look, I know where you’re going with this. Every so often wannabe change-agents come waltzing through here looking for “good” ideas and “new” ways of doing things. And for the life of me I don’t understand why. I stop what I’m doing and spend time with them, and they walk out of here looking and acting very thoughtful…and I never hear how things turned out and I never see any meaningful changes. And when they do try to change something, they’re nothing more than a bunch of tinkerers. Don’t waste my time. Besides, just how Six Sigma do you think we’ll stay if I start breaking creative on you. You know…like expressing myself…like in new ways like through my…like…work…you know? Just tell me what you want done and I’ll do it…Seven or Eight Sigma if you want. Don’t get me wrong. I love my job and I love working at this company. This place is a total blessing to me and my family. I just wanna put in a good days work and get home to my family when I’m done.
 
         A Next-Cycle person is someone you rely on when the same process needs to be improved for the next cycle. In other words, you know the upcoming next cycle and you are committed to it. In addition, you know this is the time to implement improvements based on what is being learned during the current cycle. Your Next-Cycle person may well be working in the In-Cycle, but his or her mind is not only on doing the work…it is continually assessing how the work is being done. If you tell these people to shut up with all of their new ideas and just get the work done, they will soon be working for your competitor unless you can successfully drive out every last drop of their self-confidence and self-esteem. As a side note, they are usually very appreciative of In-Cycle people, and know how to get and use their input.
 
         A New-Cycle person is someone you need when your company’s next cycle could well be it’s last. These people have a beagle nose and eagle eyes. Six Sigma doesn’t matter to them because they see the defect as the fact that the company is doing what it is doing and not preparing for the customer’s future needs…especial needs that the customer is not yet aware of. Granted, he or she is often not sure of what should be done next, but they know what is currently being done is terminal…maybe not this year or next, but the end is coming unless the company launches out in a new direction.

Putting People in Their Place

         Please don’t force an In-Cycle person to spend time in endless meetings with New-Cycle types who are gleefully brainstorming the future. With each new idea he will start thinking about how it should be implemented…and as his thoughts start to crystallize…the discussion pivots to a completely different topic. It doesn’t take many of these brainstorm/pivot cycles to throw him into a daydream cycle in which he tunes out the whole mess. That is when he starts getting bitter about missing yet another weekend with his family, and his colleagues start resenting him for not being an “engaged team player.”
 
         Perhaps the most destructive combination is putting a New-Cycle person in the middle of an In-Cycle process because he sees that problems are coming and he knows that the company is doomed unless something is changed. He can’t or won’t focus solely on the In-Cycle work and unfortunately distracts others from doing so as well.

 
So, put people in their place…in their cycle…and they will thank you.
 
         If you have read this far, I bet you think I forgot about the Me-Cycle person. Well, the Me-Cycle person can be found in all three of the other cycles and should probably be referred to as the, It’s-All-About-Me-Cycle person. In the In-Cycle, this person doesn’t change for anyone because it is his Kingdom. He thinks he owns the place and nothing gets done unless he says so because this is the small corner of the Universe he commands.
 
         When the Me-Cycle person is found in the Next-Cycle, he conducts countless studies and interviews, but won’t commit to anything that has his name on it until after it has been pronounced a success. Of course, at that point he transforms himself into a cross between a graffiti artist and a skywriter proclaiming his visionary worldview. He should buy his printer paper in the shape of his behind because that is what every report is designed to cover.
 
         When the Me-Cycle person is found in the New-Cycle he is pleased as punch because he can find endless ideas to thoughtfully question and future plans to raise doubts about. These people are often labeled as “deep thinkers” when in reality their comments are obscure and their ideas are vague. They pose, posture, and schmooze well, yet they produce nothing. They often have a hardy laugh that is summoned at will and arrives on queue. When they shake your hand their grip is firm, but not too firm, and they sincerely look you straight in the eyes. While shaking your hand, they may even place their left hand on your right shoulder…a cross between friendly embrace and paternal dominance. If you look carefully through their facade and into their eyes, you may catch a glimpse of the fact that you are being measured for a particular kind of suit; a “Do you suit my purposes?” suit.
 
         So where do you put a Me-Cycle person in your organization? Just outside the door…and everyone else will thank you. On the other hand, if that person owns the company you should look for a profitable way to put yourself outside the door. Your previous coworkers will either admire you or envy you…and your family will thank you.

In a future post I will write about why Me-Cycle people might find it necessary or at least comforting to be resistant, calculating, controlling, or manipulating. Hint: It has something to do with anxieties, fears, and defenses.

Have a great day,
Rick