In step six of the Breakthrough Process, the focus shifts to the work of the Breakthrough Action and Analysis Teams (BATs). These teams, supported by the Organizational Effectiveness (OE) team and a steering group of key decision makers and stakeholders, analyze issues and prioritize them. They engage in a process called “Facing the Tiger with Stripes,” where they assess the current situation, set target objectives, identify restraining forces, address hidden issues, manage polarities, determine success indicators, and outline suggested steps for change. The BATs ensure transparent communication with the OE team to maintain alignment and coordination. This step paves the way for generating actionable recommendations in the upcoming phases.
Step six: Now, breakthrough thinking work by breakthrough action and analysis teams. I sometimes call them simply breakthrough action teams or bats. As you’ll see, I’m trying to be clever. You can call them whatever you want, but their function primarily is to analyze what’s happening to make recommendations for action, as you’ll see going forward.
So here we are. You’ve prepared the organization. You’re now in the diagnostic phase, the very end of the diagnostic phase where the breakthrough teams have been formed, and they’re now going to go out and start working on figuring out what needs to be done. You’ve done the initial system diagnosis. You’ve analyzed that data. Furthermore, you’ve identified where the log jams are primarily. And now teams have been formed to go out and, in this case, work on the top five because I could get them on the slide.
So what you have is you start at the bottom here with two O’s. Remember going out like consultants to their internal clients, the same department or the same team through the whole project. And they go out and they gather local data. They find out what that team is confronting. If you’re doing a survey, they find out how does that team, what are the examples from that particular local organization in those numbers? After that, all that data comes back, the team comes back together, and they collate all that data from all the teams.
Then, when that happens, you take the prioritization back to the clients and say, this is what everybody said, this is what you guys said, and these are the priorities that now have started to emerge. And you go back, and you say, what are some examples of this in your particular department or group? And then all of that goes back to the team. Organizational effectiveness team again prioritizes a final prioritization and comes down to the top, what, 5 or 10 at that point. You also then ask for volunteers because at that point they’re getting excited. They’re starting to learn about this process. They’re beginning to think maybe this time they mean it. And then going forward, you take the volunteers into the next stage, which we’ll get to later.
So here’s what happens in this particular step six. You’ve got the organization effectiveness team. Remember, these are people from across the organization that you’ve been training to do some facilitative work. They sort of quasi representative. You also have a steering group made up of key decision-makers, key stakeholders, people that are in a position to help or hinder any sort of changes that are being recommended going forward. These are people that might not be in the AU team, but are very important, and they might not be on the executive team, which are the very, very top people that are going to ultimately have to say yes or no.
So these breakthrough action and analysis teams are in constant communication with the AU team. In fact, what I like to do is have an AU team member or two attached to each of these teams, sort of like consultants, to help facilitate those teams. Those teams go to work, they do their analysis. They then come up with briefings on a regular basis for each of these groups. So there are no surprises when we get to the point of where there are going to be making recommendations for action. Nobody’s gone off down some trail that just absolutely is not going to work.
Now, at this point. This is how I use, this is how I want these groups to work. I use this process called the stripes. You know, we talk about facing the tiger. So stripes are a kind of part of this thing trying to be clever. All right. The first thing the group does when they’re taking on a problem is they say, what is the situation now in real-time? What are the facts? What’s the data? What are the numbers now? It’ll be useful later when you start tracking improvement, okay. What’s the situation now. Secondly, what is the target? If things were perfect, what would be happening in a transformed state? What would be happening or not happening? So you’re beginning to get a sense of the change or the delta, the size of the improvement that’s needed.
The third is what are the reasons we’re not there now? I mean, why aren’t we at this perfect place now? What are some of the restraining forces? Here’s where I use force field analysis with groups. What are some of the resources going with us and some of the restraining forces going against us in this particular need for change? What are some issues that nobody wants to talk about? These are like the dead horses on the table that everybody knows are there, but nobody has the courage to confront. You see, there’s some reason why this problem exists. You know, that that people have people knew about this before you showed up with your big magic change process. Okay? Everybody around the problem knows there’s a problem. Maybe some people have even tried to solve it. I’d be willing to bet that there may even be someone in the organization whose job title is to solve this problem; make sure they’re in the steering group, by the way, and on one of the teams, you want them inside the tent. So there’s something that nobody wants to do, to talk about or confront, maybe because of some political issues or turf battles or personal matters that nobody wants to confront that has to be built into the process if you really want change.
What are some polarities that are present? I guarantee you that if you’re confronting a persistent problem, a problem that has not gone away in spite of a lot of work, it’s because some polarity is not being integrated. There’s overemphasis on one pole of a polarity, and it’s time to come back and stretch into the opposite pole. E is what it would be evidence of success. What would it be? The first indicators, the first sign that the bow of the ship was beginning to turn, you know, what would we notice in the real world? And then finally, what are the suggested steps that we have to make? Now, what I’ve found is that when a breakthrough team presents their data to the decision-makers following a process like this, it is very, very hard for the decision-makers to go against them. And you’ll see that when we get to that particular step. Now here we’ve done, you’ve done, you’ve gone across here, you’ve gone across here, you’re now into generating the breakthroughs. The next step is going to be how do you prepare the decision-makers to get ready for these recommendations that are going to come from the breakthrough teams, and that’s what’s next.
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