In planning, implementing, and managing change of any kind, we sometimes develop a tunnel vision about who should participate. Too often we succumb to the temptation of involving too many people who possess the same perspectives.
Early in my consulting/change management career, I facilitated the planning and implementation of an organizational restructuring for a textile manufacturing client. I had helped restructure several locations within the same division of the company, and the changes had gone well. We had come in on time (or early) and under budget for the work, and the cost-cutting and quality improvement advantages gained from the restructuring initiatives had surpassed all expectations.
As I started work in the next facility, I met with the executive leadership to identify the key stakeholders to be involved in the planning. One of the shift managers suggested that we identify all the negative ring leaders in the location and put them on the planning team. The thought took me by surprise for a moment, then I agreed. We all agreed that it was my job to do this project in a way that would get them on board, and then the fact that they were on board might make the change more palatable to other production associates.
This idea used the premise of the old cereal commercial with Mikey: the brothers would have anything taste-tested by Mikey, because “Mikey hates everything.” If the cereal gained Mikey’s approval, it must be good.
We identified the informal leaders in the facility—both positive and negative, enlisted them in the effort (we did not force or coerce), and got them involved in both planning and implementing the needed change. The results proved so effective, I used this as a practice in future change initiatives.
Other key factors in the success?
- Using experts from other facilities as internal advisors
- Using experts from other companies through benchmarking activities
- Using cross-functional teams, so that functions and perspectives throughout the process were represented
For more information on planning, implementing and leading change, please contact TBI or call us at 201.573.0400