Change Effort Not Working? Try Appreciative Inquiry And Changing The Culture

This is the abbreviated post for the more detailed post on how to make change management work.

Many of my clients approach me because they want one of three things.
1) Process improvement
2) Strategy facilitation
3) Cultural changes

Mostly they ask for the first two choices because they are more concrete.  When clients choose to do only process improvement or only strategy the gains from their efforts and the lean way consulting are short lived.  Ultimately true sustainable change only comes from cultural change and that is not easy.  Organizations fall into typically two categories.

1) An organization wants to do a process improvement effort like Lean and are excited to use the tools because of all the great things they heard Lean can do for their organization.  While that is true they miss the critical element of the management and sustaining side.
2) An organization wants to do a process improvement effort like lean and understands it’s more than a tool set but will focus on a problem orientation when implementing Lean.

The lean way consulting’s system for process improvement is to integrate cultural changes at the beginning with an approach called appreciative inquiry.  Appreciative inquiry is an approach designed to build on the strengths of an organization and address the weaknesses in the context of building on strengths.  Normal Lean implementations are based solely on what’s not working.

By looking at the positive side of things we activate the parasympathetic system which allows us to be more creative and able to solve problems easier (this is an oversimplification of the biological system of the PNS but the end result is still the same).  It doesn’t take much effort for people to be more positive and open to other solutions.  Cornell university did an experiment where they asked physicians think out loud while they solve a case of a patient with liver disease.  They found that when they gave physicians just a small bag of candy or some kind of small gift those physicians were better at integrating case information and less likely to become fixated on the initial ideas and coming to premature closure in their diagnosis.  This is the type of thinking you want from every person in your company.  You get less resistance, more buy-in, and a sustainable solution.  Here is the basic approach the lean way consulting uses for a new change management effort:

0) Training (ongoing)
1) Start in a place where there is a need
2) Build out an area to experiment and grow momentum
3) Expand by creating tension to constantly move people out of their comfort zones
4) Integrate what you are doing in strategy

For more information please contact us oh where you can get started.  You can also take our free assessment and we will analyze your current culture for free.

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How To Make a Change Management Effort Like Lean Stick