Getting People to See Opportunities For Improvement Part III


 Between two boulders


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In the last two parts we talked about what you need for change – Getting to See Opportunities for Improvement Part I and also about the common Archetypes that may be resistant to the change – Getting to See Opportunities for Improvement Part II.  In this part we’ll talk what you can do to help get people unstuck and moving forward.

During your implementation of a Lean Six Sigma approach you’ll need to have several vehicles for implementation.  

  • Projects – Usually 1-12+ months in length, led by a project manager and then implemented by the team.
  • Short Burst Events (Kaizen events) – Usually 1-5 days in length and the objective is to build a cross-functional teams that will implement a solution during the event.  These have the highest rate of success if done properly.
  • Long Burst Events – Usually 4-15 weeks in length.  These allow for a cross-functional team with a facilitator and draw out the short burst event over the course of a few weeks.  This is great if you don’t have the time to have 6-10 people stop their work for a week.

The second part we’ll take a look at is the ongoing influences that you have to help move the change forward.

  • Daily management – You want a minimum of 1x day meeting with your team to review performance.  In most of the meetings 70-80% of the conversation should be around strengths and what’s going well.  The reason is that if you focus on the negatives it can put people into a stress response and their performance, engagement, and productivity drops.
  • Coaching for compassion – Most managers will take the approach of “I’m going to coach them to do what I want.”  This may be difficult to buy into but that is a great way to create more of a stress response and shutting down your people.  Instead coaching for compassion actually ask the question of what they want.  It may or may not be completely focused in the area you work however when you show a caring interest in your employees they become much more productive.  
  • Coaching for skills – If you start with the coaching for compassion mindset first the coaching for skills portion will become easier.  Let your employee tell you what they need development with and go from there.  
  • Mindfulness training – This is more for the manager but it’s basically a sense of awareness.  Part of being a good leader through the change is to be emotionally self-aware and socially aware of the dynamics at play.  Doing awareness practices and mindfulness practices daily can help you in this arena and catch potential pitfalls quicker.  For instance you might be able to pick up on a political saboteur like Payton quicker if you are aware and notice changes in behavior.

In conjunction with the implementation techniques and ongoing processes there are supplemental tools to help you navigate the change.

  • Network analysis – This is a tool that helps you find the nodes of influence in your organization.  It’s a survey that is sent out asking the question “who do you go to for help.”  From that question you can start to develop a map of where the influence points are.  This is critical to know since those are the people you will want bought into the new process.
  • Collaborative vs. Directive – Have the understanding that if you want to empower your people you need to give them the tools, resources, and space to solve the challenges.  Don’t expect the solution to be 100% what you expect it to be.  When you have many people look at a problem there are bound to be things that you didn’t consider so let the team have space and try to create an environment of collaboration instead of being directive when it comes to solving problems.
  • Social Capital – This includes but no limited to t-shirts, posters, awards, stories, symbols, and other items that are related to the new culture you are trying to create.  The social capital is a critical element to help influence the change.

Let’s take a look at the the different people and how you can influence them through the techniques and tools above.  


Pat is the person who has been at the company for many years and likes it Pat’s way.  Pat doesn’t like change and feels uncertain as to what the change might mean for Pat’s job.  Here are some things you can do to help Pat through the transition.

  • If you don’t know who your Pats are then doing mindfulness/awareness training for yourself will help with finding these people.
  • There is a trust issue here so coaching with compassion is very helpful in these situations.
  • Get Pat involved with projects maybe as a team member at first to get Pat’s feet wet and to give Pat a voice in the new process.
  • Be sure to praise Pat publicly and correct privately so you don’t demotivate Pat.
  • Do a network analysis on your organization and see if Pat is a center of influence.  Usually the vocal Pat’s are the ones who usually are the center of influence.  If Pat is then be sure to include Pat on as many projects as possible.  The best events are usually the short burst events where there can be open real time conversation on different ideas and people use facts and data to support their stance vs. feelings.
  • If Pat is not a center of influence then find out who might be and make them champions of the new process.  They may be able to influence Pat.


Jessie is a person who isn’t learning as quickly as everyone else and feels very uncomfortable in the situation.  Jessie could also be a Pat if Jessie starts to resist the changes.  Dealing with Jessie is the easiest but it can be difficult to find Jessie since they aren’t as obvious.

  • Mindfulness/Awareness training is important to be able to detect a Jessie.
  • Coaching with compassion tends to open people.  If you coach properly then people tend to open up and Jessie might tell you they are having challenges.
  • If still don’t know who your Jessie’s are then make sure you have a good learning plan in place.  Make sure you are tracking people’s involvement with the new processes and projects.  If you can also assess their core knowledge and have them demonstrate some of the knowledge.  Having your employees participate in projects, short burst events, or long burst events are a great place for learning to happen for Jessie’s as well as other employees.
  • Similar to Pat find out if Jessie is a center of influence.  If Jessie is make sure you are giving extra attention to Jessie so that you can build skills and confidence. 


Payton isn’t as common as the other two but if you have a Payton in your organization then it can be very difficult to get any change to happen.  The best way to overcome a Payton is to have overwhelming support. The nice thing about a Lean Six Sigma initiative is that if done correctly the results speak for themselves.  Here are some ways to overcome Payton

  • Being aware and mindful is important to notice if you have a Payton in you organization.
  • The best way to overcome a Payton is to make sure the CEO is on board with the change initiative and to get support from others by showing results.
  • With a Lean Six Sigma effort be sure to start small and in an area you have the highest chance for success.  Take The Lean Way Consulting Assessment to find out how likely you are for success in a particular area.
  • Most approaches to deal with Payton are a bit more individualized and the three above points will get you started.

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