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    Motivational Operations
    Copyright © 2004, Brent Filson , All Rights Reserved

         There’s an inexorable law operating in business.  I call 
    it the law of UP — Unfulfilled Potential.  One can see aspects 
    of this law working in other areas:
         For instance, in neurophysiology, humans are supposed to 
    use only a fraction of our brains' capabilities; in technology, 
    superconductivity is not yet widely available; and in medicine, 
    the harnessing of the body’s abilities to fight cancers is only 
    just beginning to be understood and realized.   
         But the law of UP is particularly dominant in the business 
    world — and especially in operations.  Operations is the blocking 
    and tackling of any organization, the fundamentals that create 
    the foundation for consistent success.
         It’s such an important function that in many companies the 
    Chief Operating Officer is usually the next in line for the job 
    of CEO.  If a company is not doing operations well, all of its 
    other functions are diminished.
         Having consulted with operations leaders in a variety of top
    companies for two decades, I’ve seen that many are unfortunately 
    strict adherents to the law of UP — for one main reason: They’ve 
    neglected an all-important results-driver, motivation. 
         Clearly, many factors further operational excellence: 
    capital, cycle time, technological advancements, quality, 
    efficiencies, etc.  But motivation is the most fundamental, 
    operational determinant at all, for it drives all the others.
         After all, operations is the sum of people doing many jobs; 
    and when skilled people are motivated to accomplish those jobs, 
    great results happen. 
         But many operations perceive motivation as “soft” — as 
    opposed to the “hard” factors of cycle time, quality control, 
    etc. — and so either ignore it or struggle with actualizing 
    it on a daily basis.   
         I see motivation, however, as a “hard” determinant of 
    operations that can be a concrete, a practical results-producer. 
         I’m going to provide four imperatives that you can use 
    right away to achieve consistent increases in operational 
    results. But before I do, I’ll offer a working description of 
    motivation.  For leaders often fail to motivate others because 
    those leaders misunderstand the concept of motivation. 
         The best way for me to describe it is to describe what it 
    is not. 
         Motivation is not what people think or feel.  It’s what 
    people do.  Look at the first two letters of the word, “mo.”  
    When you see those letters in a word, such as “motor”, “motion”, 
    “momentum”, “mobile”, etc., it usually means action of some 
    kind.  Look at motivation as action too.  If people are not 
    taking action, they are in point of fact not motivated.
         Motivation is not something we can do to somebody else.  It 
    is always something that that someone else does to themselves.  
    Look back over your career, and you will see that the motivator 
    and the "motivatee" were always the same person.  As a leader, 
    you communicate, but the people whom you want to motivate must 
    motivate themselves.
         Motivation is not a dispassionate dynamic.  It is an 
    “emotional” dynamic.  The words “motivation” and “emotion” come 
    from the same Latin root word, which means “to move.”  When we 
    want to move (motivate) people to take action, or in truth have 
    them motivate themselves, we engage their emotions.  Put another 
    way: People will not take action for more results faster 
    continually unless their emotions are engaged.
         Finally, the best way to enter into a motivational 
    relationship with people is not by distant communication but 
    the kind of face-to-face speech that has people make the choice 
    to be committed to your cause.
         Those are descriptions of what motivation truly is.  But 
    descriptions alone won’t help you meet the challenges of UP.  
    You must follow clear imperatives to help you transform 
    descriptions into results.
         Here are four that will help you cultivate motivational 
    1.  Give Leadership Talks Not Presentations.  The difference 
    between a presentation and a leadership talk is what Mark Twain 
    said the difference between the almost right word and the right 
    word is.  “That is the difference,” he said, “between the 
    lightning bug and lightning.”
         Let’s understand the basic difference between the 
    presentation and the leadership talk.  Presentations communicate 
    information; but leadership talks have people believe in you, 
    follow you, and, most important of all, want to take leadership 
    for your cause.
         My experience has taught me that 95% of all communication 
    in business is accomplished through the presentations.  However, 
    if 95% of communication were accomplished through the leadership 
    talk instead, leaders would be far more effective in getting 
         So before you speak to people, and leaders speak 15 to 20 
    and more times a day, ask yourself if you are simply providing 
    information or are you motivating those people to motivate 
    themselves to take action for results.
    2. Create Motivational Systems.  Most operational leaders are 
    good a systemizing quality initiatives, cycle time, efficiencies, 
    etc.  But few understand that some of the most important systems 
    they can put into place are systems that help people make the 
    choice for motivation.
         A particularly effective motivational system is one that 
    saturates operations with “cause leaders.” 
         Unquestionably, people accomplish a task better if they 
    are not simply doing it but taking leadership of it instead.  
    When we are challenged to take leadership, we raise our 
    performance to much higher levels.  With that in mind, create 
    systems that identify cause leaders, challenge them to take 
    specific leadership action, and support those actions through 
    systematized training and resource allocations.
    3. See Results Not as An End But as a Motivational Process.  
    Clearly, you have to get results.  But many operations leaders 
    misunderstand what results are about.  I teach leaders the 
    concept of achieving “more results faster continually” — not 
    by speeding up but instead by slowing down and working less, by 
    putting the motivational imperatives into practice.  Leaders 
    understand the “more results faster” aspect — but they often 
    stumble when it comes to the “continually” aspect. 
         We can usually order people to get more results faster.  
    But we can’t order people to do it on a continual basis.  That’s 
    where motivation comes in. Instead of ordering people to go from 
    point A to point B, say, we must have them want to go from A to 
    B.  That “want to” is the heart of “continually.”
         When we understand results this way, understand that we 
    must achieve “more, faster” on a continual basis, then we begin 
    to make motivational operations a way of life.
    4.  Challenge People to be Motivational Leaders.  The 
    imperatives are powerful when you use them consistently.  But 
    they are even more powerful when you have your leaders use them 
    and teach others to use them.  After all, you alone can’t create 
    motivational operations.  You need others to help you do it, 
    especially those mid-level and small-unit leaders.  If they 
    are not putting the imperatives into practice every day, your 
    attempts to raise the standards of operations to a consistently 
    high motivational level will falter.   
         Define the success of your leadership by how well your 
    leaders are leading, and you are well on your way to making 
    motivational operations a reality.
         Once you begin to institute motivational operations by 
    applying the four imperatives, the law of Unfulfilled Potential 
    becomes your competitor’s worry, not yours.
    2005 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc.   All rights reserved.

    Writer's Resource Box:
    The author of 23 books, Brent Filson’s recent books are, THE 
    GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS.  He is founder and president of The 
    Filson Leadership Group, Inc. – and has worked with thousands of 
    leaders worldwide during the past 20 years helping them achieve 
    sizable increases in hard, measured results.  Sign up for his 
    free leadership ezine and get a free guide, “49 Ways To Turn 
    Action Into Results,” at http://www.actionleadership.com

    More Articles Written by Brent Filson

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