Building Adoption of Management Improvement Ideas in Your Organization
Posted on December 8, 2010 Comments (13)
Continuation of How to Get a New Management Strategy, Tool or Concept Adopted
Target something that actually provides a good story. It often helps if there have been failures in attempts to solve a problem in the past. That makes the new success more impressive. Something that is relate-able to the audience you are trying to win over is also useful. Even if senior management cares about an issue, if the solution is so technical they are completely baffled, they will be happy with a solution but they won’t be as excited about expanding the strategy you are trying to encourage when they can understand the process that lead to a solution.
Favor efforts that will help you build organizational capacity to do more of what you want going forward (adopt lean thinking, use design of experiments…). Some of this is about building expertise in the organization. It is also about building your circle of influence. Growing your ability to influence how the organization grows will help you encourage the improvements you believe in.
It is very helpful to show connections between individual efforts. Often you build using various tools: in several instances using PDSA cycle to guide improvement, in others mistake-proofing to cement improvement, in another adopting one piece flow to make problems visible and encourage improvement, in another assuring the respect for people to build the right culture for improvement, and in another using an understanding of variation to make evidence based decision rather than jumping to faulty conclusions with limited information. These management tools, concepts, methods and ideas any many more, are used together for a reason. They support each other. So it is very helpful if you tie them together. As you start adding new tools, ideas and concepts to the management system show how they support each other. Individual tools can help. But the gains they offer are minor compared to the gains possible with a systemic change of management.
Another good strategy is picking the right people to involve in an effort. If you are trying to gain support, find those people in the organization that set the tone that others follow (which are not merely those with organizational power due to their job title). It is nice if you can find such people that have generally positive outlooks and like new challenges (this is often the case). If the culture is very toxic you may well have some who are likely to try and discourage hope in others (often because they have been disappointed so many times themselves they have finally decided not to be disappointed again). Often (though not always) you can win these people over.
If potentially troublemakers are a significant issue, one strategy is to take some time first just focusing on them. What don’t they like. Fix it. Much of the time they are annoyed with idiotic pointy haired boss behavior. That should be fixed anyway. So if it will win over a few key people go ahead and do it. While doing so, use some of the tools to make the improvements. Get people to see that the organization is serious. We will fix the things you care about and we have real strategies and processes to do so. Don’t believe our promises of some distant improvements. Let us show you improvements. Then we can go forward together building on our initial success.
Another tip: with adopting tools it is good to encourage the use of several concepts and tools (so you don’t try to use a “hammer” to fix every problem). But you probably are better off really focusing on using a few tools and concepts (for example: mistake proofing, visual management, kanban, PDSA) over and over and over again. Becoming expert (as people and an organization) at using a few is normally far better than continuing to try to adopt too many new ideas and not really doing any of them particularly well.