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What happens in a Workout Session?

Learn about what you can expect in a Workout meeting (or session) including the importance of employee empowerment in addressing organizational challenges and how this structured approach leads to effective problem-solving and positive change.

00:00 / 06:52

Helpful Reading

Helpful Reading

"The Art of Problem Solving: Accompanied by Ackoff's Fables" by Russell L. Ackoff

Ackoff's book delves into creative problem-solving techniques, aligning with the podcast's focus on identifying and addressing organizational challenges. It offers valuable insights into the first step of the GE Workout process - identifying the problem, and provides a framework for thinking innovatively.

"Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In" by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton

This classic book on negotiation and consensus-building is particularly relevant to Step Four of the GE Workout process - choosing a solution. It provides strategies for reaching agreements and making decisions collaboratively, a key aspect of the GE Workout methodology.

"Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

'Made to Stick' explores the qualities that make ideas memorable and impactful, resonating with the brainstorming and implementation stages of the GE Workout process. It offers practical advice on how to communicate ideas effectively, ensuring they are understood and embraced by others.

Helpful Reading


Workout sessions may vary in length (from a few hours, to a couple of days), but the one thing they all have in common is that they represent a straightforward, change acceleration process that includes numerous (clever) tools and practices that empower participants to identify and eliminate burdensome activities and processes that do not add value to the organization's mission and vision.

So, if you are asked to participate in a Workout as a Change Champion, what can you expect? Well, imagine stepping into a room where the energy of collaboration buzzes in the air. The session kicks off with an essential phase of team building. Here, through an engaging icebreaker and discussion a, sense of trust and openness is established. This is critical because a comfortable and motivated group is more likely to share openly and creatively. Your facilitators, who are Aitkin Revitalization members, will make this fun and relaxed - after all, that's when the best ideas surface!

What about the room itself? Picture a room with walls lined with flipcharts, each one a canvas for mapping out ideas, processes, and solutions. Teams, armed with markers and sticky notes, engage in lively discussions, identifying pain points and inefficiencies in existing workflows. It's a visual and interactive process that sets the stage for highly effective and relevant brainstorming, categorization, and prioritization of ideas. In fact, facilitators will guide you through four general steps (though they may plan ahead to use different tools along the way, depending on the nature of the problem or opportunity you are addressing). Here's an overview of those steps:

Step 1: Generating as many ideas as possible to uncover the nature, characteristics, and sources of the problem.

Facilitators bring Change Champions into a space to freely, fully, and safely identify and articulate the problems they face. It's an open forum where diverse perspectives converge, leading to a rich tapestry of issues that reflect different aspects of the organization. We use techniques like brainstorming and mind mapping to ensure every voice is heard, and every problem is acknowledged. In fact, whenever participants brainstorm, it's is not just about throwing ideas onto a wall. It's a structured yet free-flowing exchange of thoughts, guided by creative thinking techniques. Participants are encouraged to get out of their seats, walk around, discussing and adding their thoughts to the flipcharts. It's an atmosphere brimming with creativity, where every voice is heard and every suggestion considered.

Step 2: Categorizing and Prioritizing the characteristics and sources of the problems.

Once we have a large pool of ideas covering the wall, participants are guided through a process of categorization. This is a crucial phase where we group similar issues, making it easier to understand the breadth and depth of the challenges at hand. Then comes prioritization. Using tools like the Circle of Influence, and the Impact-Effort matrix, participants develop consensus and energy around which problems are within their direct influence, are the most critical, and are worth addressing first. This process ensures our focus is on issues that will have the most significant impact.

Step 3: Solution Idea Generation

With our problems identified and prioritized, we shift our focus to generating solution ideas. This stage mirrors the initial idea generation phase but is now targeted at solving the chosen problems. Change Champions engage in creative thinking, proposing and discussing a wide variety of innovative solutions that address the key challenges identified earlier.

Step 4: Categorizing and Prioritizing Solutions

Just like with problems, solution ideas are then categorized for clarity and coherence. Grouping similar solutions together helps in understanding the various approaches we can take to address each problem. Following categorization, we prioritize these solutions, determining which ones are most viable, impactful, and aligned with the department and Aitkin's goals.

Step 5: Turning Solutions into Action Plans

The final and perhaps most crucial stage is turning these prioritized solutions into action plans. This is where the real magic happens. Change Champions, armed with clarity and consensus on what needs to be done, now decide on the 'who', 'what', and 'when' of each solution. They develop detailed plans, assigning responsibilities and setting timelines, ensuring that each solution is not just a concept but a concrete plan ready for implementation.

Step 6: Presenting to the Sponsor

One of the most pivotal aspects of the GE Workout session is the preparation for the final presentation to the Sponsor. The Sponsor, who will typically be an Aitkin department head, plays a crucial role in the approval and implementation of the ideas. Because of the comprehensive work done during the sensing session, where major concerns and objections are addressed, and the meticulous facilitation by the Workout facilitator, the Sponsor is usually inclined to say 'yes' to the proposed solutions. The facilitator ensures that the ideas presented align with the organization's strategic goals and are feasible within its operational context.

The final presentation is more than just a formality; it's a celebration of collaborative effort and innovative thinking. Change Champions present their well-crafted solutions and action plans with confidence, knowing that their ideas have been refined through a rigorous process of collective intelligence and strategic alignment. This moment is the culmination of all the efforts, where proposed changes are not just heard but are set on a path to realization.

Alright that's it for this episode. Tune in next time to learn about what happens after the Workout Session has concluded.

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