Breaking Free from Learned Helplessness: Empowering Change through QBS’s COE Journey

Before engaging with QBS, this organisation was struggling to change behaviours and achieve operational and business improvement. It faced a culture that lacked focus on the customer and failed to effectively engage with team members. Additionally, leaders were primarily technical specialists, lacking the necessary skills to drive meaningful change.

Addressing underlying issues

They had previously attempted traditional training programs that focused on standard operational and business improvement tools. However, these efforts fell short of expectations and the client realised that simply providing training did not address the underlying cultural issues or challenge our thinking. It was missing the crucial aspect of double-loop learning, which was essential for driving sustainable change.

QBS, through its Core Operational Excellence (COE) program, provided a transformative solution. Anita, with her unique approach and expertise, introduced what was fondly referred to as “gold dust” into the organisation. The Operational Excellence Programs she led challenged leaders to reflect on and improve their engagement with their teams, stakeholders, and the overall strategic and practical aspects of their business roles. The collaborative workshop discussions and adaptable frameworks offered by QBS enabled leaders to apply their learnings directly within their teams, fostering critical thinking and a continuous improvement mindset. The COE experience was a deep learning journey, following the 70/20/10 learning model.

Cost reductions

Some key takeaways and learnings included substantial improvements in cost reductions, process efficiencies, employee engagement, and customer experience. Although business benefits were not formalised or quantified, the program more than paid for itself which was evident from the feedback provided by participants. The responsibility of funding the program shifted to the business leaders themselves, enhancing accountability and ownership. Regular updates and progress reports were crucial to maintaining momentum and ensuring continued leadership support.

Learned helplessness

Throughout the program, there were some challenges including instances of learned helplessness among individuals.  It became apparent that not everyone had the skills they claimed. COE identified these weaknesses. Implementing real change required significant time and commitment, and some individuals were not willing to invest the necessary effort.

To embark on this transformative journey, robust leadership engagement was required. While the client was accustomed to demanding a return on investment for our expenditure, they consciously avoided setting strict financial targets for the program. They understood the risks of focusing solely on monetary gains and wanted to prioritise the cultural shift. Seeing the effective cultural transformation became the measure of success.

Honest, clear and holistic-thinking facilitators 

“Anita is a one of the most honest, clear and holistic-thinking facilitators of change in her field. She is a rare find and a gem. I’d work with her again in a heartbeat as I know she would bring thought-leadership and professional dedication to whatever is assigned.” says Jen.

The true beauty of COE emerges when multiple layers of management and teams speak the same language and strive towards common objectives. This alignment brings about a significant step change in mindset and outcomes. With nearly 500 COE graduates, many have gone on to achieve remarkable things, and the executives still reflect on the invaluable lessons they learned years later.

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