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December 25, 2009

Compliance or Momentum

The standard approach to getting buy in during improvement initiatives generally touches on one of the following well worn approaches:

  • Wallpapering every office, signpost and walkway with posters, banners, success stories and testimonials
  • Measure, reward, punish and publish
  • Or talk, talk, talk... getting the highest person you can find to talk to the lowest people who can make a difference
The overwhelming signal here is one of compliance. You had better do this because... everyone else is doing it/ everyone important is looking / we will expose you if you don't.

Does this work? Sure it does. It gets compliance with whatever is being asked.But if you are going down a path of compliance then you really need to keep the pedal down all the way.

Because as soon as the heat goes off people revert to something approaching what they used to do... a 5th column emerges and many people start working covertly to roll back whatever has been done.

Compliance means we are doing something because someone else wants us to. We are following the rules because we fear not doing so for some reason or other.

But momentum is diferent, momentum is when people embrace change bcause they want to. They become part of the force moving change through the organization because they believe in it, they see it as better for themselves and for the business.

Momentum makes people do far more than they usually would do and is more likely to lead to permanent change.

Momentum means developing a pull into the organization instead of  a push, it means an initiative that can live independently of its originating champions, and something that people want to be a part of - instead of wanting to avoid it.

Yet for all the differences, momentum is relatively easy to get moving.

1) Workshop with senior people to work out what is important to them. It is normally either revenues, costs, risk or knowlede. Everything else fits into that.

2) With that done then look to define the projects, initiatives or areas that would have the largest impact on their corporate direction at that point in time.

3) Get them to quantify it with you. Work them through the steps required to quantify the results they could achieve if this particular problem(s) were solved. Also get them involved in planning out the initiative, the resources, time frames and work load required.

4) Do the work, with an eye on achieveing the benefits at all times. Importantly, the work must be done with the people from the organization. Not alongside them, not for them but with them. Knowledge transfer during this process cannot be underestimated.

5) Get the lowest person involved in the effort to present to the highest person you have access to.

6) Make sure the presentation is big on impacts. Important: The statements on impacts need to come from the team members, definitely not from the consultant.

7) Use this occasion to ask for the funds, resources and support for the next steps.

8) Publish, promote and proclaim.

9) Do pilot # 2 and 3 with other team members, while using the original team members to work on advancing other related stuff.

10) Measure, review and revise where required.

11) Repeat from step 1.

Momentum is easy. Momentum is all about personal involvement, achieving real and often cashable benefits, and creating an environment where people want to be involved, not where they have to.

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