Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Pushing the boundaries of collaborative change


Respect for people is a fundamental principle for lean practitioners. In part my understanding of this principle is that change should be inclusive, ensuring that all of the role of the process are represented and ensuring that sincere communication is enabled both about current problems and to agree a way forward.

When we are working with teams we help them create a bold vision for the future, this may take a little time but usually consensus is easily obtained. In my experience supporting the group to come up with a practical new process can sometimes be a little more challenging. When it comes to immediate change people can be risk averse and want to stay within their comfort zones. When teams are involved in an improvement project one of the things teams need team to agree (in conjunction with the sponsor) is whether making some modifications is acceptable or whether a step change in service/process provision is required. When we do identify that immediate step change is required the challenge to individual comforts can be even more pertinent.

Why is it hard?
Because….
·      Each individual will have a different comfort zone. To get change by agreement or consensus there is a risk that we come up with partial solutions.
·      Louder/more dominant team members can guide inclusive change; if this group of people feel that the changes are outside of their comfort zone they may try to dissuade other from making large-scale immediate improvements.
     Some projects have unrealistic goals, to achieve them risks not only taking people out of their comfort zone potentially into panic zone.*
   Change beyond one’s comfort zone is scary, people have concerns about time, influence, politics, resources, is the change really an improvement etc. Each one of these doubts can be enough to deter people.
·      What can seem like a bold improvement in the meeting room can lose momentum when back at one’s desk.
·      Change can be hard work to implement; often people are fatigued by their current situation, finding the energy to implement improvement.
·      New priorities and requirements will start to emerge which get in the way of implementing the original changes, changes that take people out of their comfort zone are more likely to be side-lined.

How can we support and lead?
·      Ensure that the team has a good rationale change, using valid data to ensure that changes are truly an improvement.
·      Make sure that projects have achievable and realistic goals.
    Ensure that the team uses/has access to appropriate tools and models that support teams to innovate and identify creative solutions.
·      Endorse and promote the changes that bring wins/positives for all parties involved.
·      Identify a strong, engaged and supportive sponsor for the project.
·      Celebrate key milestones and achievements.
·      Implement the improvements as soon as possible.
·      Promote and support positive and regular stakeholder management.
·      Provide support, championship and endorsement of the project team and their ambitions.
·      Ensure that the actions are specific, time bound and shared between the team members. Hold people to account for their actions.
·      Be empathetic and make time to listen to people, coaching them to realise their goals.
·      Provide relevant case studies about collaborative teams who have made innovative and brave changes. Where at all possible seek out mentors who can support team members.
·      Don’t assume that people are resistant to new ideas because it takes them outside of their comfort zone. Sometimes, people are apprehensive about making changes for absolute valid reasons.

Change projects are rarely easy, in my opinion this makes it even more necessary to ensure that the outcomes justify the time and effort that people put into the project and that the changes are truly for the better.

A few useful links:
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e5a4/2a4c5e58b82a7308a281929d2d842943f26e.pdf

*This point was added into the blog - thank you @Paolo_MTL