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Immersive Partnerships for Effective Change

An image at dawn showing the Austin, Tx skyline and noticeably accentuated are numerous cranes.

What is the definition of a partner? How does that differ from the definition of a consultant? Which one do you need?

The Story of the Consultant:
the Golden Child from the Golden State

I remember a story of a consultant who came to our city from California to help the city develop a comprehensive, thirty-year plan to zero waste, cleaner water, and reduced emissions.

He had a ponytail and Jesus sandals (the cool kids now call them “jandals,” I’m told) so he had instant street credibility. He met with multiple groups, received loads of enthusiastic community input, developed an extensive plan, and presented it to the city.

Everyone was very excited about the plan and the forward-leaning thinking of the city. He had the spotlight, received much applause for constructing such a fine plan, and then went on his merry way back to the golden state.

Now, if you fast forward a little over a decade, the community finds itself behind in most of the key areas of the plan. How could that be? It was such a good plan. What could have possibly gone wrong?

Well, it seems that everyone in the city has other jobs to do, and they don’t have the qualifications or experience of the consultant. They didn’t look as cool either.

What Can an Organization Do?

Most organizations operate in this paradigm. They look for experts who know more and seek their advice. This comes in many forms. It looks like manuals, master plans, and white papers, but the point is simply this: at the end of the day, YOU must do all the work. In today’s economy where great, qualified, experienced labor is hard to find, the buck starts and stops with YOU.

The Paradigm Change of a Boutique Style Partner with Dirty Hands

We believe there is a better way. We believe the evolving landscape calls for a drastically different approach.

What if you had the person who wrote the plan (even if they don’t wear jandals and have a ponytail) work WITH you, side by side, and TRAIN your team as you went through the process TOGETHER?

That might be something that could build a lasting, effective program. That approach might be radically different. That approach just might even work.

Diverse Success: From Students to Corporations to Fans

Well, we’re here to state, unequivocally, that it does. We have seen that approach work for over 200,000 K-12th grade students, high-tech Fortune 100 companies, and even rabid, beer-soaked soccer fans. If the approach works from kindergartners to highly trained chip processors to fans pounding drums, waving flags, and cheering at the top of their lungs, we think that covers a pretty diverse demographic of radical change agents.

Okapi’s OPTIMUM Immersive Sprint Process

We think a better approach is a process we call OPTIMUM. We like to conduct this process in smaller, bite-sized, 90–120-day sprints. It may be great to have a goal for 2030, but what are you doing today? This approach forces action NOW in smaller components that build upon each other to fulfill the promise of the plan.

A key component of this is written transparency and accountability for each person involved in the sprint. We believe this is a joint effort with the client and the consultant. This is most certainly not a directive. This is a team effort.

The acronym for the process stands for:

  • Observe
  • Plan
  • Train
  • Implement
  • Measure
  • Understand
  • Modify

All these components are part of an immersive sprint cycle. All these components are essential to a successful change implementation program. You may be asking what is special about this approach.

We find that most organizations do a fair job of the first four steps. 

They know how to Observe, Plan, Train, and Implement. Most of this is based on the HOW, but seldom the WHY. They distribute this information to the employees, tell them to do it, and nine out of ten times it typically fails after 120 days. There are success stories, but that type of approach does not produce lasting results. 

We find, at this point, most organizations take the path of blaming their employees and chalk it up to another mediocre or failed change project.

The magic is in the last three steps. 

The lasting culture change is in the Measurement of the results of the first four, including ALL team members in gaining a clear, concise Understanding of what went right and what needs improvement, and then making the proper Modifications, TOGETHER, to move forward. 

That is a process for continuous improvement.  Great organizations continuously are in the MUM stage to keep the ball moving forward and drive results that turn heads.

Dirty Hands as Opposed to Doctoral Degrees

We find few take this approach, but we see all who have built successful programs utilize OPTIMUM immersive team sprints, whether they understand that is what they are doing or not. They utilized the concept even if they didn’t know the acronym.

We do not believe the academic approach is the way to move the needle. That may be the necessary approach to get the suits at the corporate office to buy in, but to produce results we find organizations need this different, twenty-first-century type of partner.

Driving change is hard work. There are few manuals illustrating effective cultural and emotional change models.

It is great to read about how to plant a garden, but there is no substitute for the sweat running down the back of your neck, dirty hands, and the need for a shower.

We’ll Gladly Shake Your Hand

Okapi Environmental Services is ready to help you at any stage of the game. A sustainability consultant can relieve pressure from executives, equip and excite the people affecting change, and teach you how to promote your success. Seeking the guidance of experts is not a sign of weakness or failure–it is strength deserving of success. Please reach out to Okapi today and let’s see how we can accelerate your pace to zero waste.

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