Getting People to See Opportunities For Improvement Part II

see opportunitiy


Listen to the Conference Call on Getting People to See Opportunities for Improvement Part II 

In the last post (Getting People to See Opportunities for Improvement Part I) we talked about the basic process of getting people to see opportunities. The framework is as follows:

  • Big picture and emotional tie – Have a big picture direction in mind and have an emotional tie in by building a common aspirational vision or a burning platform.  Burning platforms is effective usually only once or twice where as having an aspirational vision is much more sustainable.
  • Explain what you are doing – Be sure to build how the big picture can be realized with the plan to get there
  • Awareness training and framing – Before you can start to make changes you have to have awareness by doing training.  The training should teach how to frame challenges in a new way then previously.
  • Blockages – The highest hardest part about the process is getting people from awareness to implementing.

There are several types of blockages and instead of mentioning all the many types of blockage with each of their nuances.  Instead we are going to talk about the themes that you may see as a manager.  I’ve put the typical archetypes 


Pat has been on the job for about 15 years and has seen the company grow from being a small operation to being in a national company.  Pat first hears about a new initiative called Lean Six Sigma and all sorts of emotions are involved.  Pat is concerned about her job changing and she is worried that she may not be as valuable in her new job.  On top of that Pat is afraid of the uncertainty because she doesn’t know what will happen to her during this process.  Pat has heard about Lean Six Sigma and even though management has said they are safe Pat doesn’t feel safe.  Because of the fear and concern she is always pushing back on anything new that comes because of the Lean Six Sigma program.  Pat hasn’t been included in any of the projects as of yet and Pat is not that excited in participating.  



Jessie is new and willing to try new things however Jessie feels stress because Jessie is not learning the material as fast as other people.  Jessie went to the training class but doesn’t seem to understand what to do.   Jessie wants to learn but there doesn’t seem to be a good avenue to help Jessie learn that fits Jessie’s learning preferences.  


Payton is a person who you won’t find as often in organizations.  Payton is someone who feels that they have something to gain by preventing the new Lean Six Sigma imitative to move forward.  Payton could be your boss, your employee, or your peer.  Payton can be the hardest blockage to release in your organization and you have to really assess what kind of culture you have in place.  If you have a political cultural where people play power positioning games than you can probably expect there to be at least one Payton.  Incidentally your odds of success for Lean Six Sigma go down if you do have a political culture.    


Potential Solutions

During your implementation phase you’ll want to have multiple approaches to change.  For our example we’ll use a Lean Six Sigma initiative as an example.  Here are all the implementation techniques to consider:

  • Project work with PMs and teams (1-12+ months)
  • Burst Kaizen events with a group of people working together and dedicated for a short period of time to solve a problem (1-5 days)
  • Long Kaizen events which are similar to burst Kaizen events in structure but are spread out over a few weeks (4-13 weeks)
  • Daily management meetings to make sure changes are being adopted and that you are coaching your people during the process (ongoing)
  • Coaching with compassion vs. coaching for skills (ongoing)
  • Mindfulness training (ongoing)
  • Influencing the influencer – finding the informal leaders in the organization and getting their buy-in to the process.

We’ll continue with how to use all these tools together in part III.

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