Super Users in Action: Training, Part II – Changes Driven by Learning

Continuing to talk about the training role the Super User has in its team, it is interesting to question: what type of changes does the Super User enable?

One of the big assets of the Super Users is their capacity to learn and to help people learn. Someone who is not curious and willing to learn should not become a Super User. Although in some companies, Super Users have formal training, most of the learning comes from his curiosity, cooperation with others and willingness to learn and share this knowledge. The Super User is always learning something new and sharing it with his peers.

The changes made with the Super User’s support are based on the learning capacity of the people. When Super Users discuss, they are learning and becoming more capable of solving a variety of problems. Issues raised by colleagues also generate constructive discussions. People develop an attitude of “certainly someone knows enough of this to help us solve the problem”, and people look for this knowledge. When the problem is solved, the natural question is “how did you discover this information?” This knowledge stimulates the team to want to learn, so that they are also able to solve the problems themselves. We should not underestimate the fact that the Super User is a peer – someone on my own team. So if he, who is one of us”, can find a solution for problems, so can the rest of us.

“Change driven by authority is more efficient to organize, often more effective in the short run, and more immediately comfortable for people in many organizations. If all goes well, great results may occur; productivity and profitability may soar. So may morale, as employees recognize that ‘things are getting better’. But even in this ‘best of all possible authoritarian initiatives’, the change effort is powerful only so long as it is pushed. (…) A few failures or setbacks, and the energy for change might dissipate altogether.” (SENG & all., 1999)

A continuous improvement culture cannot be built based on top-down changes. Sometimes this can occur, but the implementation is complicated and requires a great deal of articulation, because the changes are not a part of the everyday experience of the individuals required to implement the changes.

It’s a different scenario when the changes come from within. This situation does not necessarily make adapting to change easier, but it does provide a different motivation and perspective. A change that originates on the inside is more adapted to the person who is changing, and to the process it is improving. The change is more tailored to the occasion, and therefore generates the idea that it makes more sense than a change mandated by an authority.

On the other hand, people are only motivated to try to implement these changes if they are confident that it is possible: that they are capable of making the change, and that the environment won’t reject it. A person that learns something and is able to apply it is motivated to learn something else.

“But what if the initiative is driven by learning?
To succeed, it would need to involve repeated opportunities for small actions that individuals could design, initiate, and implement themselves. First on a small scale, and then with increasingly larger numbers of people and activities, participants would articulate the goals they would like to achieve, experiment with new projects and initiatives, learn from their successes and mistakes, and talk with each other, candidly and openly, about the results. This would build commitment through participation and action. It would also naturally draw in new people who share similar values and aspirations. This type of change process can become self-perpetuating. (…) A learning-oriented strategy aims to produce self-sustaining change in a way that continually accelerates its own growth and development. In systems terms, it operates as a ‘virtuous reinforcing cycle’.” (SENG & all., 1999)

With the help of the Super User, people can discuss issues and can really try to solve them, be creative, and implement solutions. They do not always need to wait for the approval or support from an external party, such as a Process Excellence Office, because some things are within the scope of their team. At the same time, they count on the support of someone who is well versed in the process and the system, and who can assure them that “yes, we can try this solution”. David Jirik, Senior Manager – Group Continuous Improvement (Lean) Bendigo & Adelaide Bank, said that: “Sustaining a culture of continuous improvement is about having a problem-solving culture. A deliberate sense of belief in the business that closing gaps, removing waste and solving customer issues will genuinely take the business to a better place.” (PEX, 2014)

I personally have as my professional motto “Enable people through learning”. If you want to unveil a person’s true power, you have to teach her how to know herself and her job better and better and learn how to learn. If you possess that quality, nothing will stop her from growing, and possibly aspire to be a Super User.

A future article will focus on how the Super User (especially when working on a network) channels these changes throughout the organization.

References

Rizoto-Vidala-Pesoa, L. M. The Super User role as a tool to progress in maturity in Business Process Management – a study case of Cabot Latvia. Masterthesis,UniversityofLatvia,2017. https://dspace.lu.lv/dspace/handle/7/36320

  1. Senge, P.: Kleiner, A.; Roberts, C.; Ross, R.; Roth, G. & Smith, B. (1999). The dance of change – a fifth discipline resource – The challenges to sustain momentum in learning organizations. Currency doubleday.
  2. PEX Network’s 3rd Biennial State of the Industry Report (2014). Retrieved from https://www.processexcellenminim anteposuerit litterarum formas humanitatis per seacula quarta decima et quinta decima. Eodem modo typi, qui nunc nobis videntur parum clari, fiant sollemnes in futurum.

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Laila Māra Pesoa

Laila Māra Pesoa is a process and knowledge management expert with a focus on organizational learning and continuous improvement. Having started as CAPM certified by PMI (Project Management Institute) and graduated in Business Administration in lbmec Business School, Laila developed for her final Bachelor’s project the Model BPM 6×5 (BPM 6 by 5: a self-assessment model to measure and develop action plans for the company to grow in Maturity in Business Process Management (BPM)). However, her focus has gone beyond structuring the company’s processes. By combining concepts of BPM, Knowledge Management, and Project Management, she works to enable the company’s growth in Maturity in Business Process Management by developing on people a knowledge-sharing and process-oriented mindset to enable and strengthen a Continuous Improvement culture. This approach has led to the creation of the consulting firm Process-U (Process-u.com). Her Master’s studies at the University of Latvia in Strategic management & Leadership concluded with a Master’s thesis proposing the use of the Super User role (both process and knowledge specialist) to enable the company’s growth in maturity in Business Process Management. Now Laila is an ambassador of the Super User concept, and part of the Leader Board of SunSource (https://www.sunsource.io/), a community dedicated to Super Users and their leaders. This goes hand-in-hand with her experience in systems development. In Cabot Corporation, Laila had a key role in the upgrade of the company’s ERP system by supporting testing, progress follow-up, quality control of testing evidence, and improvement of testing scripts master for all company’s process areas. Laila has led projects both in non-governmental associations and companies, in Brazil and Latvia, on National, European (Erasmus+ projects), and Global levels. She is fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish, and Latvian.
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