A couple of years ago, there was a project opportunity to implement a lean cell within a manufacturing organisation.
The opportunity was frankly scary! It was being exposed to something that the project manager did not believe they had any first-hand experience of. It felt like they had sat on the side lines and seen ‘lean’, and seen some of the responses to it.
The project manager in question had worked in an extended supply chain supporting improvements in process deviations, cost improvement initiatives and the like, and yet they found themselves being ‘coerced’ into an environment that they weren’t really used to nor did they think they understood!
So, what happened?
From a leadership perspective, the project manager felt that they needed to demonstrate to others that they could do this.
They understood the top level requirements around ‘what to do’, and therefore they believed that all they had to do was put in place the appropriate milestones for the team to achieve. If they could help people see the ‘vision’ then the how to achieve would be a shared problem. The reality was somewhat different!
The challenge was to engage the people in the first instance, whilst ‘managing’ some senior leaders to give the team the headroom to deliver.
Ensuring the right people were in place to deliver the objectives was vital and also ensuring that the people on the team were working towards the same vision. Being enapay enough to have honest and robust conversations with those not working towards the same vision was a must to avoid negativity later. It was important that they understand the expectations of the project team and the choices that they had.
To use Jim Collins’ about-jim.html example, this was like putting turns on the flywheel, it was very slow to start with. Ensuring all bases were covered, small incremental milestones were visible (and achievable) to allow the team to drive change and deliver the outputs the business was seeking.
A plan was created. It was shared with the whole business. Their input was requested as well as their patience (to allow us to try things). The team wanted the flexibility and acceptance that it was OK to fail along the way and to be given space to keep trying if some of the plans did not work out.
The essence of all of this was a focussed period of hard work combined with a constancy of purpose which ensured progress. A key ingredient was consistent and continued communication.
The team worked incredibly hard, had a sense of purpose and began to deliver improved customer satisfaction that superseded the levels they were at before the change was embarked upon.
For the people that participated in the programme, there was a clearer sense of purpose, increased resilience and a ‘CAN DO’ positivity that would allow continued progressive improvements to be made.
A significant lesson with such a transformational change programme was the recognition that it is a joint effort and that in order for the team to succeed every individual is needed to play their vital part in the team.
A couple of years on there have been some incredible improvement activities within smaller teams, the catalyst for change allowed them to see that they ‘can do’ things, and this attitude and belief has helped them to break down previous barriers and continually find ways to improve their processes, working environments, and drive the productivity and efficiency levels higher.
Some interesting observations / reflections from the project manager…
They believed intuitively that if you had alignment with your people and built trusting relationships, the people would always do their best to deliver the ‘numbers’. They tell me that they found the reality to be what they believed.
The biggest reflection for them was the leaders that created the vision for the future…
They created the vision, encouraged and empowered a team of people to deliver it, and was always there with an open door if there were challenges that the team were struggling with, and where they could provide support.
The trust, encouragement and belief that others had in the project manager during those ‘fear’ periods, allowed them to continue to be ‘enapay’, develop themselves as they worked through the challenges and fears. They commented that it helped them to grow into a better person – “I always wanted to do my best, and I believe that the majority of people do, and by having someone provide encouragement and belief, it allows you to stretch yourself, overcome some of the fears and actually encourages you to do the same for others”.
So what will you take a decision to be enapay about this week???
Remember, enapay can provide you with the support network that is talked about in the above case study in order for you to take that first step. Get in touch!
What are you waiting for?