Anecdote overheard at an event this month:
The executive director of a big private company decided to implement a culture change, and to make her staff more inclusive at all levels. She set up new processes by which anyone in the company could submit ideas to include improvements and new ways of working. By doing this they would gain the collective wisdom of the workforce, and acknowledge that there is understanding at all levels of the company, not just management.
The suggestions that started coming forward were tiny and unexciting. Many of the department heads complained about the new processes and said, “What’s the point of doing this exercise? It’s not really giving us anything of value”. BUT – the exec director was confident in persevering: she knew that in this new process of building trust, the staff were testing them. If the company didn’t respond to the small, safe suggestions, the staff wouldn’t believe that they were serious about being inclusive. (Later on, bigger and bolder ideas started coming through.)
For co-production to happen, confidence and trust and safety need to grow in people first, before the innovative and radical solutions can be proposed.
Trust the process.