Monday, January 13, 2020

Designed by Clowns, Supervised by Monkeys (Or How to Work With Your Regulators)

How to Work With Your Regulators
Boeing expressed regret at the embarrassing communications it sent to investigators early January, which included a comment that “this airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys.”

Employees of Boeing mocked federal rules, talked about deceiving regulators and joked about potential flaws in the 737 Max as it was being developed, according to over a hundred pages of internal messages delivered to congressional investigators.

“I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” one of the employees said in messages from 2018, apparently in reference to interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The most damaging messages included conversations among Boeing pilots and other employees about software issues and other problems with flight simulators for the 737 Max, a plane later involved in two accidents, in late 2018 and early 2019, that killed 346 people and threw the company into chaos.

The employees appear to discuss instances in which the company concealed such problems from the FAA. during the regulator’s certification of the simulators, which were used in the development of the Max, as well as in training for pilots who had not previously flown a 737.

“I just Jedi mind tricked this fools. I should be given $1,000 every time I take one of these calls. I save this company a sick amount of $$$$.”

“Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t.”

“I’ll be shocked if the FAA passes this turd.”

“This is a joke. This airplane is ridiculous.”

“Best part is we are re-starting this whole thing with the 777X with the same supplier and have signed up to an even more aggressive schedule!”

“Jesus, it’s doomed.”

In an exchange from 2015, a Boeing employee said that a presentation the company gave to the FAA. was so complicated that, for the agency officials and even himself, “it was like dogs watching TV.”

Several employees seemed consumed with limiting training for airline crews to fly the plane, a significant victory for Boeing that would benefit the company financially. In the development of the Max, Boeing had promised to offer Southwest a discount of $1 million per plane if regulators required simulator training.

In an email from August 2016, a marketing employee at the company cheered the news that regulators had approved a short computer-based training for pilots who have flown the 737 NG, the predecessor to the Max, instead of requiring simulator training.

“You can be away from an NG for 30 years and still be able to jump into a MAX? LOVE IT!!” the employee says, following up later with an email noting: “This is a big part of the operating cost structure in our marketing decks.”

Last year, Boeing disclosed internal messages from 2016, in which a top pilot working on the plane told a colleague that he was experiencing trouble controlling the Max in a flight simulator and believed that he had misled the FAA.

“I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),” the pilot, Mark Forkner, said to his colleague, Patrik Gustavsson.

Boeing did not inform the FAA about the messages when the company first discovered them, waiting until about two weeks before Mr. Muilenburg was set to testify in front of Congress to send them to lawmakers. The conversation, which took place before the Max was approved to fly, angered key FAA officials, who felt misled by the company, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon who is leading the House investigation into the development of the 737 Max, called the newly released messages “incredibly damning.”

“They paint a deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews and the flying public,” he added, “even as its own employees were sounding alarms internally.”

Besides an appalling disrespect for human lives, Boeing shoes how not to build relationships with regulators.

Depending on how regulated your industry is, your company will have more or less contact with its regulators. You should think about your relationships with regulators in four categories:

1) Relationships in ordinary periods where no proposed regulation is being considered and no examination is underway,

2) Relationships when a rule is proposed or likely to be proposed by your regulator;

3) Relationships when you are being examined by your regulator, and

4) Relationships when your regulator is investigating your company or individuals associated with your company.

It is critical for the long term success of your company and the success of your regulator that you interact with your regulator in a constructive way in each of these circumstances.

During Ordinary Periods

The most important time to build a relationship with your regulator is when you have no current matters with your regulator.

For everyone in this technology-fueled age, we all feel like they are in fact no quiet times because it feels like there’s always too much work to do and not enough people to do it. But during the times when you are not engaged with the regulator about a rulemaking, examination or an investigation is the best time to develop your relationship with your regulator.

Your regulator may have access to a tremendous amount of data about your industry and that may lead you to think that your regulator is on top of developments in your industry and even with your company. The reality is that your regulator is a branch of the government. As such, your regulator is almost undoubtedly dealing with technology that is way behind the technology that you take for granted every day.

So when things are quiet I urge you to approach your regulator and offer your assistance. One very simple way to provide that assistance is to meet with the regulator and let them know what you are seeing in your industry. What business developments are driving innovation and change in your industry? What holdover practices from earlier times do you feel have not caught up with current operations? What risks do you see in your industry in the future?

These are topics that you are thinking about anyway in the course of managing your business and implementing sufficient compliance efforts for your business to comply with applicable rules and regulations. If you can convey your knowledge of these issues to your regulator, you’ll make your regulator better informed and better able to craft policies to address issues in your industry.

During a Rulemaking

When your regulator turns to action, like a proposed rulemaking that will impact your industry, you have another opportunity to build an effective relationship with your regulator. If you are already engaged with your regulator and communicating regularly you will have a distinct advantage in engaging on a rulemaking. If you are not already engaged with your regulator at that point, you should get engaged.

Rule proposals from the SEC for example often asked for data about particular issues and they often would not get any data from the industry. I know that there is an argument that says that industry is better off not sharing information with an SEC or another regulator. The idea behind this argument is that sharing information and data may lead the regulator to do something it wasn’t otherwise considering.

Just like in industry, the vast majority of regulators are trying to do the right thing with the information they have. If you give them more information, you have a better chance of them coming out with a rule that will be well thought out and supported by the data.

During an Examination

If your company is subject to an examination by the FINMA, SEC, RAB, BaFin or another regulator, you have another opportunity to build your relationship with your regulator.

I realize there are a number of my readers who might not have quite that reaction to an exam! I understand that an exam can be a tremendous expenditure of resources by your company and can be a source of concern that examiners may find something that you may have overlooked. Nonetheless, an examination involves a sustained interaction with your regulator.

It gives you an opportunity for the regulator to understand who you are and what your company is trying to do. Don’t waste this chance. If the examination does show an issue or a problem, you are far better off if you have been cooperative during the examination and explained your compliance efforts. If you have been uncooperative and hostile and the examiners find something, I promise you they will take a less charitable view of any explanation that you give.

During an Investigation

If all of your best efforts do not work out and you come under investigation from a regulator, are you past the point of maintaining a relationship with your regulator? While I hope that you don’t end up under investigation, I also would argue that all is not lost.

If you find yourself under investigation, I recommend that you maintain a spirit of cooperation and continue to explain the facts that landed you in the investigation. I have seen investigations being dropped because the company involved was able to adequately explain its conduct.

Enforcement departments of regulators like to win their cases as well. If you have an explanation for facts that may seem to be a problem, enforcement teams will listen. They would rather find out sooner rather than later. Don’t let your relationship with the regulator lapse just because you are under investigation. Keep up your effort to engage and to provide information that your regulator needs. You will have a better chance of the investigation being closed out without being charged.

In a nutshell: Develop and maintain relationships with your regulators for the long term success of your company.

Read more…

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Tell the Story of Your Project

Tell the Story of Your Project
Persuasion is essential for a business and the projects that originate from this business.

Customers must be convinced to buy your company’s products or services, employees and colleagues to go along with a new strategic plan or reorganization, investors to buy (or not to sell) your stock, and partners to sign the next deal.

But despite the critical importance of persuasion, most executives struggle to communicate, let alone inspire. Too often, they get lost in the cesspool of company speak: PowerPoint slides, dry memos, and hyperbolic messages from the corporate communications department.

Even the most carefully researched and considered efforts are routinely greeted with cynicism, lassitude, or outright dismissal.

I firmly believe that you can engage listeners on a whole new level if you toss your PowerPoint slides and learn to tell good stories instead.

Stories have been implanted in you thousands of times since your mother took you on her knee. You’ve read good books, seen movies, attended plays. What’s more, human beings naturally want to work through stories. Cognitive psychologists describe how the human mind, in its attempt to understand and remember, assembles the bits and pieces of experience into a story, beginning with a personal desire, a life objective, and then portraying the struggle against the forces that block that desire.

Stories are how we remember; we tend to forget lists and bullet points.

If a story is “good” or “bad” is relative to the opinion of the listener. But there are a few non-negotiable components that make for a great story, for both the listener and teller.

Good stories are …

entertaining. Good stories keep the listener engaged and interested in what’s coming next.

educational. Good stories spark curiosity and add to the listener’s knowledge bank.

universal. Good stories are relatable to all listeners and tap into emotions and
experiences that most people undergo.

organized. Good stories follow a succinct organization that helps convey the core message and helps listeners absorb it.

memorable. Whether through inspiration, scandal, or humor, good stories stick in the listener’s mind.

There's no such thing as a true story. As soon as you start telling a story, making it relevant and interesting to me, hooking it into my worldviews and generating emotions and memories, it ceases to be true, at least if we define true as the whole truth, every possible fact, non-localized and regardless of culture.

Since you're going to tell a story, you might as well get good at it, focus on it and tell it in a way that you're proud of.

Storytelling is a skill. It’s not something you’re born with, it’s not based on charisma or authority. It’s more simple than you think, but it takes practice.

So tell the story of your project.

If you aren’t then someone else will be. And their version is likely to be worse than yours.

In a nutshell: You can engage listeners on a whole new level if you toss your PowerPoint slides and learn to tell good stories instead.

Read more…

Friday, January 03, 2020

How to Deal With Stakeholders Resistance to Change

How to Deal With Stakeholders Resistance to Change
There is a simple truth about projects.

All projects result in change.

Some projects bring about small modifications to the status quo, and others introduce a large-scale transformation.

No matter the size or scale of the project, people resist change. Overcoming this resistance to change is a top challenge faced by organizations and project sponsors today.

The better we are at seeing what causes resistance, the easier it will be to build support for our ideas. In other words, if we understand resistance, we also understand the other side of that coin – support for change.

Rick Maurer identified in his book “Beyond The Wall Of Resistance” the three reasons for resistance.

1) I Don’t Get It
2) I Don’t Like It
3) I Don’t Like You

I Don’t Get It

This is about information: facts, figures, ideas. It is the world of thinking and rational action. It is the world of presentations, diagrams, and logical arguments.

Resistance may come from ...

> Lack of information
> Disagreement with data
> Lack of exposure to critical information
> Confusion over what it means

Many make the mistake of treating all resistance as if it is because of not understanding the change. Well-meaning leaders give people more information – hold more meetings, and make more PowerPoint presentations – when, in fact, something completely different is called for. For example...

I Don’t Like It

This is an emotional reaction to the change. Blood pressure rises, adrenaline flows, pulse increases. It is based on fear: People are afraid that this change will cause them to lose face, status, control – maybe even their jobs.

It is not soft stuff. You can’t say, “Just get over it,” and expect people to say, “Wow, thanks, I needed that.” It runs deep. When it kicks in, we can feel like our very survival is at stake.

When this kind of resistance is active, it makes communicating change very difficult. When adrenaline shoots through our system, we move into fight-or-flight mode (or we freeze like a deer in the headlights). And we stop listening. So no matter how terrific your presentation is, once people hear “downsizing” their minds (and bodies) go elsewhere. And this is uncontrollable. They are not choosing to ignore you, it’s just that they’ve got more important things on their minds – like their own survival.

Organizations usually don’t encourage people to respond emotionally, so employees limit their questions and comments to “I Don’t Get It” issues. They ask polite questions about budgets and timelines. So it may appear that they are with you, but they’re not. They are asking for more information while hoping that you’ll read between the lines and speak to their fears. And here is a really tricky part – they may not even be aware that they are operating on such a basic emotional level.

I Don’t Like You

So maybe they like you, but they don’t trust you – or don’t have confidence in your leadership. That’s a hard pill to swallow, I know. But lack of attention to this is a major reason why resistance flourishes and changes fail. And it is seldom talked about. Books on change talk about strategies and plans (all good stuff, to be sure) but most of this advice fail to recognize a major reason why change fails.

In this case, people are not resisting the idea – in fact, they may love the change you are presenting – they are resisting you. Maybe their history with you makes them wary. Perhaps they are afraid that this will be “a flavor of the month” like so many other changes, or that you won’t have the courage to make the hard decisions to see this through.

But maybe it's not you. People may resist those you represent. The statement, “Hi, I’m from headquarters, I’m here to help,” often leaves people skeptical. If you happen to be that person from headquarters, you’re going to have a hard time getting people to listen to you.

Whatever the reasons for this deeply entrenched resistance, you can’t afford to ignore it.

People may understand the idea you are suggesting (Reason 1), and they may even have a good feeling about the possibilities of this change (Reason 2) – but they won’t go along if they don’t trust you.

So How You Can Turn Resistance Into Support?

Here are a few ideas to get you started addressing the various levels of resistance. And remember, all three reasons could be in play simultaneously.

Make your case

> Make sure people know why a change is needed. Before you talk about how you want to do things, explain why something must be done.

> Present the change using language they understand. If your audience isn’t made up of financial specialists, then detailed charts showing a lot of sophistical analysis of the numbers will be lost on them.

> Find multiple ways to make your case. People take in information in different ways. Some like to hear things. Others like to see things. Some like pictures. Others text. Some learn best in conversation. The more variety in the communication channels, the greater the chance that people will get what you have to say.

Remove as much of the fear as you can – and increase the excitement about what’s positive about the change.

> Emphasize what’s in it for them. People need to believe that the change will serve them in some way. For example, work will be easier, relationships will improve, career opportunities will open up, or job security will increase.

> Get them engaged in the process. People tend to support things they have a hand in building.

> Be honest. If a change will hurt them – downsizing, for instance – then tell the truth. It’s the right thing to do, and it stops the rumor mill from inventing stories about what might happen. Also, honesty bolsters their trust in you.

Rebuild damaged relationships – and tend to neglected relationships

> Mea Culpa. Take responsibility for things that may have led to the current tense relations.

> Keep commitments. Demonstrate that you are trustworthy.

> Find ways to spend time together so they get to know you (and your team). This is especially helpful if the resistance comes from “who you represent” and not just from your personal history together.

> Allow yourself to be influenced by the people who resist you. This doesn’t mean that you give in to every demand, but that you can admit that you may have been wrong and that they have ideas worth considering.

In a nutshell: There are three reasons for resistance to change. I Don’t Get It, I Don’t Like It, and I Don’t Like You. Understand them and you can change resistance into support.

Read more…