By Larry Galler
Lots of businesses this time of year are working at improving processes to better compete in the marketplace. The goal might be to increase quality, decrease cost, increase safety, better satisfy the customer, or a combination of these worthy goals.
I was in a meeting recently where we were planning to change and improve a process in the way a certain task was to be done. One of the people said with a sigh, “we’ll explain the new procedure and hope for the best.” Suddenly alarms started going off in my head. I heard bells and sirens. I saw big flashing red lights. Then, inside my head, a booming voice yelled, “Hoping for the best won’t work… make it a process designed for success and get help from those who will actually be doing the work!”
So, I offered a different approach. Start with telling those doing the task what the expected outcome would be, tell them why the change was being instituted, tell them how and when the results would be measured, and then once the new procedure was in place for a short while, ask for further input to make the procedure better.
That’s the “Managing by Intention” model. Start with what you “intend” the outcome to be and then figure out what you need to do to get that outcome. There is a much higher possibility of success this way than if you dictate a change and hope. Why? Because the people who are actually putting the change into practice will know and understand the background for the change – the who, what, where, and why. This way, you’ve answered their questions before they’ve formulated them. You’ve eliminated, or at least diminished, negativity. When it’s all explained, it isn’t as if the change is being instituted as an arbitrary whim or “change for the sake of change.”
One of the goals of every change is to get the people who the change affects to embrace it, or at the very least, to embrace it enough to give it a try. Then, if you ask them to go one step further to co-create it by evaluating and tweaking it to make it stronger and more productive, you will have a much better chance of success than if you force it on them and cross your fingers and hope.
When engaged people are confronted with a challenge, chances are they will use their creativity to create a positive outcome.
Larry Galler coaches and consults with high-performance executives, professionals, and small businesses since 1993. He is the writer of the long-running (every Sunda