Change Leadership

 

How can quality professionals become successful change leaders?

Robert Mitchell

Change Leadership Process schematic by KnowledgeBrief (KBM)

Change Leadership Process schematic by KnowledgeBrief

The Baldrige Criteria defines change management as a leadership-induced process that involves transformational organizational change that leadership controls and sustains. It requires dedication, involvement of employees at all levels, and constant communication. Transformational change is strategy-driven and stems from the top of the organization. Its origin may be from needs identified within the organization and it requires active engagement of the whole organization.

McKinsey & Company states that, “Change management as it is traditionally applied is outdated. 70 percent of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support. We also know that when people are truly invested in change it is 30 percent more likely to stick.”

My 35+ years of experience is that the effective change leader possesses 3 critical skills:

  • Communication
  • Facilitation
  • Project management

The effective change leader must be able to communicate a compelling business case for change and a clear call to action throughout the organization: up, down and across. The change effort should be in alignment with the organization’s vision, values and strategic plan. The change initiative must be communicated regularly with a clearly understood strategy, with action plans and key metrics that are cascaded and deployed down to each department and individual. Change progress must be consistently measured and frequently reported against the established goals or targets.

The effective change leader demonstrates strong facilitation, influence and collaboration skills necessary to build support, remove barriers and reduce resistance to change. The change leader must be able to enhance/ build the Systems & Structures necessary to drive the required change, reward desired behaviors and prevent organizational backsliding. The effective change leader identifies the key stakeholders and implements influence strategies to gain their support in helping to “model the behaviors that create the experiences needed to change beliefs resulting in actions that deliver expected results” (The Oz Principle: Culture of Accountability). An all-too-often over-looked influencer is the organization’s “Keyhub” – those employees not part of the official managerial org chart, but whose experience/opinion/ insight is highly sought and respected among his/her peers, colleagues and subordinates. The identification of and collaboration with the keyhub is an important networking strategy to help lead successful change efforts in any organization.

The effective change leader must be able to marshal the resources and competencies necessary to support the change, adapt to challenges, and keep the change project on schedule and in budget. The change leader should follow a formalized change strategy or framework incorporating the methods, tools and technical assistance necessary to lead the process and coach the people through change. Three common models of a change management process are:

 

Nicole Radziwill

Change is hard only because maintaining status quo is easy. Doing things even a little differently requires cognitive energy! Because most people are pretty busy, there has to be a clear payoff to invest that extra energy in changing, even if the change is simple.

Becoming a successful change leader means helping people find the reasons to invest that energy on their own. First, find the source of resistance (if there is one) and do what you can to remove it. Second, try co-creation instead of feedback to build solutions. Here’s what I mean.

Find Sources of Resistance

In 1983, information systems researcher M. Lynne Markus wanted to figure out why certain software implementations, “designed at great cost of time and money, are abandoned or excessively overhauled because they were unenthusiastically received by their intended users.” Nearly 40 years later, enterprises still occasionally run into the same issue, even though Software as a Service (SaaS) models can (to some extent) reduce this risk.

Before her research started, she found these themes associated with resistance (they will probably feel familiar to you even today):

  1. To avoid resistance, get top management support and obtain user involvement in the design process
  2. Technically sound systems are less likely to be resisted than those with frequent downtime and poor response time
  3. Users resist systems that are not “user friendly” (assertions by EDP equipment vendors);
  4. All other things being equal, people will resist change (receive wisdom);
  5. People will resist an application when the costs outweigh the benefits (receive wisdom).

By studying failed software implementations in finance, she uncovered three main sources for the resistance. So as a change leader, start out by figuring out if they resonate, and then apply one of the remedies on the right:

Radziwill

As you might imagine, this third category (the “political version of interaction theory”) is the most difficult to solve. If a new process or system threatens someone’s power or position, they are unlikely to admit it, it may be difficult to detect, and it will take some deep counseling to get to the root cause and solve it.

Co-Creation Over Feedback

Imagine this: a process in your organization is about to change, and someone comes to you with a step-by-step outline of the new proposed process. “I’d like to get your feedback on this,” he says.

That’s nice, right? Isn’t that exactly what’s needed to ensure smooth management of change? You’ll give your feedback, and then when it’s time to adopt the process, it will go great – right?

In short, NO.

For change to be smooth and effective, people have to feel like they’re part of the process of developing the solution. Although people might feel slightly more comfortable if they’re asked for their thoughts on a proposal, the resultant solution is not theirs — in fact, their feedback might not even be incorporated into it. There’s no “skin in the game.”

In contrast, think about a scenario where you get an email or an invitation to a meeting. “We need to create a new process to decide which of our leads we’ll follow up on, and evaluate whether we made the right decision. We’d like it to achieve [the following goals]. We have to deal with [X, Y and Z] boundary conditions, which we can’t change due to [some factors that are well articulated and understandable].”

You go to the meeting, and two hours later all the stakeholders in the room have co-created a solution. What’s going to happen when it’s time for that process to be implemented? That’s right — little or no resistance. Why would anyone resist a change that they thought up themselves?

Satisficing

Find the resistance, cast it out, and co-create solutions. But don’t forget the most important step: recognizing that perfection is not always perfect. (For quality professionals, this one can be kind of tough to accept at times.)

What this means is: in situations where change is needed, sometimes it’s better to adopt processes or practices that are easier or more accessible for the people who do them. Processes that are less efficient can sometimes be better than processes that are more efficient, if the difference has to do with ease of learning or ease of execution. Following these tips will help you help others take some of the pain out of change.

John Hunter

In order to lead efforts to improve the management of an organization understanding how people will react to change is critical. For that reason I have written about change management often on this blog since I started publishing it in 2004.

In, Why Do People Fail to Adopt Better Management Methods?, I wrote:

It seems that if there were better ways to manage, people would adopt those methods. But this just isn’t the case; sometimes better methods will be adopted but often they won’t. People can be very attached to the way things have always been done. Or they can just be uncomfortable with the prospect of trying something new.

Lead change efforts requires paying attention to the existing conditions: the culture, the motivation to adopt this change and/or the motivation to resist it, the history of change where the change is being attempted and the reasons the change is desired (by at least you and hopefully others). And then you need to build a case for the change and manage the process.

In some case it isn’t that complicated, there is interest in the change from a critical mass of people, the change isn’t that difficult, the advantages are obvious to many people and no one has a strong interest in resisting the change (that has the power to make adopting the change difficult). In that case you are lucky, but that is often not the case, even though many attempts to change are managed with the hope that no real effort will be needed to get the change adopted.

Those that successfully lead change efforts know when to invest the effort in getting the change adopted. They study (and often can sense) where the effort will need to be placed in this particular effort and plan ahead to support the adoption of the change and to avoid problems that can greatly set back the efforts to improve the existing system.

And they put effort into creating a culture that will make change efforts easier going forward. We need continual improvement of how we work and that requires continual change. We need to build systems that support that and coach people so they are comfortable with that.

I included some ideas on how to grow your circle of influence: which would be useful development strategies for someone seeking to become a successful change leader.

Communication is an Important Part of Any Change Effort

I believe the best way to communicate such changes is to explain how they tie into the long term vision of the organization. This requires that such a vision actually exists (which is often not the case). Then all strategies are communicated based on how they support and integrate with that vision. In addition that communication strategy incorporates an understanding about what weaknesses with past practices are addressed by this new strategy.

Often organizations have a poor history with failed change efforts, and the larger the effort the more likely it was to have been problematic. Pretending that poor history doesn’t exist and being surprised by resistance to change is not a sensible way to manage. But it is a common one. Instead, to be successful, after past failed efforts, show that you know the history and have learned from it and are taking steps to make this change effort more successful than past efforts.

Change Management – Post Change Evaluation and Action

There are many reasons the change may need to be iterated over to adapt it to different conditions. The important factor, that is far too often overlooked, is to collect evidence on the result of the change as it is deployed and to study that evidence to determine if the improvement is able to be deployed more broadly without modification. It may be that you learn more PDSA is needed as part of the process to deploy it more broadly.

Using the PDSA is an extremely valuable tool to aid change efforts. The process of using it requires you to evaluate the success of the change after the change is deployed. That may seem an obvious thing to do, but it often is not done. And often those in the work know nothing improved and become more cynical about any future change attempts. But those charged with leading the change effort often have incentives to move on and ignore the results.

To help create a culture that value continual improvement find projects that would be good candidates for visible success that matters. Use the ideas here and in the linked posts to make those efforts successful and then build on those successes.

If this is done right the organization will continually grow the ability to improve and successfully adopt changes that are worthwhile. Your job of leading change efforts will get easier (though you might take on much bigger and more complex changes so that can again add challenges and keep you engaged).

Luciana Paulise 

Many companies around the world are moving towards an agile way of work to be able to tackle constant changes and capture the opportunities those changes bring. As per a survey done by McKinsey 37 percent of respondents said their organizations are carrying out company-wide agile transformations. Why? Because today the only constant is change. “Agile organizations can develop products five times faster, make decisions three times faster, and reallocate resources adroitly and quickly” based on the research “Leading agile transformation:  The new capabilities leaders need to build 21st-century organizations”.

So the question now is, what is the role of the leader in these agile organizations? Agile companies work in small teams that are multidisciplinary and autonomous, some don’t have leaders, some simply have facilitators to ensure successful interactions among team members, suppliers and customers. New leaders need to let go of micromanaging the day-to-day activities to become success facilitators. They will set a long-term vision, promote interaction across the organization, provide support to unleash team member’s idea and define priorities.

Leaders are no longer “bosses” of the people on their team, customers are. That’s why structures in agile companies flatten to:

–  Allow fast and online communication top down, bottom up and inside out.

– Facilitate fast decision making within the team, without the need to wait for management approval

– Ensure everybody is connected to the customer needs, and the needs of each of the team members

In agile companies, everybody can become a change leader within their teams, depending on the task at hand, so everybody needs to be trained to CARE for their team, through four main habits:

  • Connect: Communicate the vision, values and objectives that drive the team and build the network of stakeholders required. Team members how decide the best way to accomplish the goals.
  • Ask: ask more questions at the front-line to deeply understand results, instead of advocating opinion or direction. Analyze risks and always look for outside-in perspectives from the customers to make decisions with the team.
  • Respect: Build confidence and trust, foster open communication and respect differences in the workforce to allow multidisciplinary teams to thrive. Strengths, skills and ideas work at their best when relationships are based on mutual acceptance.
  • Empower: Prioritize objectives visually, build systems and team routines, promote self-discipline and time management and encourage immediate problem-solving. Avoid constant updates, briefings, micromanagement, and approvals, all very costly.

Luigi Sille

How can an individual become a successful Change Leader?  

Every organization or institution has to deal with change.  No one can hide or run from it. In the last couple of years the world has been changing at a rapid pace.

Normally, accepting change and going through the change process is NOT easy. Change is very hard for humans to accept (it’s human nature), to get everyone on board is a big challenge. The success of change depends upon the people, so everyone is important.

To manage, and/or coordinate the whole change process, effective leadership is one of the main components necessary to achieve a successful transition. For me personally, it is the KEY to success.

Which leadership skills contribute to someone becoming a successful Change Leader?

Communication

Communication is one of the most important skills in becoming a successful Change Leader. A successful Change Leader is one that can communicate, but also LISTEN to the group.  The listening part is very important, it is the moment to get information, feedback, or possible ideas in order to improve: TOGETHER.

Always communicate WHY we need the change, WHAT is going to change, and the impact the change is going to have. The benefits that change can have for the organization, and for the whole group. Open and honest communication helps a successful change leader gain the trust of the group, and in its turn it will help the overall change process.Maintain a communication strategy, and always check if it is actually working.

Collaboration

Bring everybody together (teamwork) to make decisions, plan (encourage the employees to be innovative, creative) and execute. This is so critical.  That feeling of being part of the process gives everyone a sense of pride. A positive organizational culture motivates the group, and that sense of belonging to the organization inspires loyalty.

It strengthens their commitment. This results in no or almost no resistance to the change process. Everyone is important. Fix small team problems on the way, otherwise it will have a negative impact on the whole process.

Commit

A successful Change Leader shows his commitment to the change. Be a role model.  Maintain control over the whole process: identify and focus on priorities. Maintain a clear purpose.

His or her behavior / beliefs is important to the rest of the group.

If the leader doesn’t believe, or doesn’t commit, it will have a negative impact on the change process, therefore the chance of FAILURE is extremely high.

If there is No effective leadership present, effectively implanting change will almost definitely fail.

A successful Change Leader has to remember that:

  • Leading change is not a ONE man job.
  • He has to believe in the team
  • Motivate the team
  • Be a role model
  • Pass responsibilities to other leaders in the group
  • Has to obtain a collection of skills to keep on top of change.
  • Communicate
  • And also: listen to the group

Apply Design Thinking to Quality Practices

 

More and more organizations are using design thinking to assess business concerns, discover creative solutions, and to establish market opportunities. As this strategy gains more traction ASQ asks:

How can design thinking be integrated with, and applied to quality practices?   

 

Prem Ranganath: The Art of Quality

Design Thinking is an opportunity to humanize quality and continuous improvement

Background: Design Thinking is a collection of methods and mindset that evolved at Stanford University and has now entered the mainstream in almost every industry. While the design thinking stages and methods might appear to be a framework, the essence of design thinking is the focus on ‘empathy’ and ‘experimentation’ to design innovative, meaningful and people focused solutions.

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

-Tim Brown, CEO OF IDEO

Design Thinking for Quality Practitioners:

There is no dearth of frameworks, toolkits and methodologies for quality management and continuous improvement. For example, a methodology like DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) provides a structured set of methods for continuous improvement along with a set of problem-solving tools and techniques for each stage in the methodology. DMAIC provides an opportunity to assess the current state using quantitative methods and prioritize problems/ opportunities for which solutions have to be implemented.

Metrics to qualify the current state and for measuring effectiveness of the solutions implemented are typically tagged to business objectives which ensures that employees understand the alignment between improvement initiatives and the potential impact of outcomes on business objectives.

If we use the Visual-01 (below) from IDEO as a reference, traditionally quality and continuous improvement initiatives are largely driven by viability and feasibility considerations. Integrating design thinking with improvement initiatives brings the ‘human’ element into focus, by driving conversation on ‘desirability’ of the solutions being proposed for implementation.

Visual-01: Dimensions of Design Thinking (source: IDEO)

Innovation Dimensions

When desirability is considered alongside viability and feasibility on quality and continuous improvement projects, it significantly improves change management and adoption. This approach also significantly increases the odds of institutionalizing and sustaining changes and ensures the effectiveness of the changes. Use of empathy as a facet to characterize current state brings more focus on the users (internal or external customers). Applying empathy alongside prototyping to evaluate alternate solution options for the future state improves engagement from the user community and will have a positive impact on the pace and extent of adoption. An informed and engaged user is more likely to be a champion for the solutions being implemented. The combination of traditional metrics and qualitative data supporting the desirability dimension can provide a new perspective for prioritizing and driving improvements.

Visual-02: Integrating Design Thinking with DMAIC

Integrating Design Thinking with DMAICVisual-02 shows the integration of a Design Thinking flow represented by the steps Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test with the DMAIC approach for continuous improvement. Integration of design thinking methods to adopt a humanized approach to characterizing (challenges and opportunities) current state. On similar lines, engaging internal and external customers to experiment and improve in a culture of play can lead to solutions that are desired by the user community and enable the quality practitioners ability to sustain and scale the improvements.

I have used the design thinking approach and methods on large transformation initiatives and during Kaizen events and I have seen significant impact on participants’ enthusiasm and engagement. The ability to empathize and experiment puts a human face to quality and process improvements and I would highly recommend design thinking to quality practitioners. I look forward to hearing from my peers on their experience with design thinking.

 

Robert Mitchell: Quality Matters 

Use Design Thinking to Innovate Your Quality Improvement Journey

Design Thinking is a strategy-making process that focuses on customer behaviors rather than opinion (aka tribal knowledge) and market research.

There is a lot of press lately about Design Thinking concepts, applications and examples in the development of new products and opening new markets. Design Thinking was popularized by David M. Kelley and Tim Brown of IDEO and Roger Martin of the Rotman School. A very good, short video on the topic was recently published by the Harvard Business Review blog . For a more detailed explanation please read the paper, “Design for Action” written by Brown and Martin.

Design Thinking process:

Design Thinking Process
From a paper recently published by Creativity At Work, “Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused and action oriented towards creating a preferred future. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer)”.

So how might Design Thinking be applied to your Quality improvement frameworks and roadmaps? The three major stages of Design Thinking are:

  1. Observe customer behavior; define unarticulated needs
  2. Ideate, Prototype, experiment and test
  3. Bring the new concept to life; open new markets

What differentiates Design Thinking from traditional Voice of Customer collection approaches is the emphasis placed on observation of behaviors rather than relying on customers’ input to satisfaction surveys. Survey responses tend to validate Expected Quality and rarely reveal Exciting Quality opportunities (see “Kano Model”). In this way, Design Thinking is similar to Focus Panels and “Be the Customer” methods to better understand unarticulated customer needs. It is at this stage of Design Thinking that the Quality practitioner has the unique opportunity to innovate through the introduction and incorporation of Journey Mapping to document customer experiences throughout the value chain of the producer-customer relationship, from product awareness to purchase and after-sale touchpoints.

An example of customer journey map:

Customer Journey Layers

The stages in Design Thinking around Ideation and Prototyping should look very similar to your existing Product Development and Commercialization processes. Many such approaches use a stage-gate model to prototype, test, and refine product design to evaluate customer acceptance and verify production cost estimates. Quality’s role in this stage should be to coach and consult in the proper use of experimental design to minimize experimentation costs and identify potentially important interactions of inputs and process variables to optimize performance of customer needs.

Another unique opportunity in the Design Thinking process for the Quality professional is in the final stage of bringing the new concept to life. With the help of social media the properly trained Quality professional can analyze customer / consumer feedback to validate areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, focusing on opportunities to build loyalty and engagement.

One can debate whether Design Thinking is really all that new or novel an approach to the value creation process. Design Thinking reinforces the power of understanding customer behaviors and unarticulated needs to deliver Exciting, innovative new product and service offerings for improved customer satisfaction and engagement… and potentially opening whole new markets. Per Linda Naiman (Creativity at Work), “Design Thinking minimizes the uncertainty and risk of innovation by engaging customers or users through a series of prototypes to learn, test and refine concepts”. The Quality professional might also consider how Design Thinking and Journey Mapping can help him/her to innovate their professional services portfolio for increased customer satisfaction in teaching, coaching and consulting outcomes.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it” – Peter Drucker

 

Luciana Paulise: Biztorming

What is Design thinking

Design thinking is a systematic and collaborative creative problem solving approach focusing on customer needs, getting information by direct observation, and testing it in a disciplined way. Similar to the Lean startup approach, the key is to fail fast and fail often. Even Toyota production system promotes investigating as many alternatives as possible, to find the very best solution, and always urge to propose ideas and fail as fast as possible.

The three main stages

1) Invent the future: With design thinking you should imagine what could be, in the ideal world, with limitless boundaries. You need to think what your customer may want but don’t know. The way to do that is by “Camping out” with your customers, like Home depot does. They talk to customers, ask how their experience was, ask questions like “did you find what you expected, what about the price, was it easy to find?” Sometimes a customer just want something fast, meaning buying a product in your website in just three clicks. That is what you need to discover through observation, what is “unstated”. Customer know they want to Get from a to b, but don’t know how. You need to find out the best way by immersing in their lives, observing and asking questions.

Ideas for product changes may be related to new products, pricing or new store displays.

2) Test ideas. You can do Mindmapping to write down ideas after observation, and then test those ideas. Do first individually, and then test it with your team mates or even with your customers. Remember, don’t judge, simply think and write down.

Once you have your ideas mapped, you need to conduct experiments to test the ideas in the real world. You can also test new processes that maybe faster, easier or

Use cheap materials, or partial solutions or Rapid prototyping tools. It does’t have to look perfect at first. The idea is to go fast, to be able to adjust fast.

3) Bring the new product to life. Identify resources and activities to implement the new ideas. Plan how to produce, distribute and sell the product or how to change the process.

Some Case studies

Design thinking can be used in any type of industry. A health provider for example used it to re-engineer nursing-staff shift changes. Close observation of actual shift changes, combined with brainstorming and rapid prototyping, produced new procedures that radically streamlined information exchange between shifts. The result was more time for nursing, better-informed patient care, and a happier nursing staff.

The Innova School System, for example, with 23 schools thus far, is applying design thinking across its platform, from how the classrooms are built to the curriculum. and the UK’s Design Policy Unit  as described in Tim Browns’s first article on Design Thinking for HBR.

Samsung Electronics manufactured inexpensive, imitative electronics for other companies. Its engineers built products to meet prescribed price and performance requirements. In a company that emphasized efficiency and engineering rigor, the designers had little status or influence. Then, in 1996, Lee Kun-Hee, the chairman of Samsung Group, frustrated by the company’s lack of innovation decided that in order to become a top brand, Samsung needed expertise in design, and set out to create a design-focused culture that would support world-class innovation. It took a long way until getting everyone in the company on-board, but they finally made it. Now Samsung innovation process begins with research conducted by multidisciplinary teams of designers, engineers, marketers, ethnographers, musicians, and writers who search for users’ unmet needs and identify cultural, technological, and economic trends. Design thinking for them means three major things: empathy, visualization, and experimentation in the marketplace.

Tech companies are using quality tools to organize their innovation cycles, likewise automotive, manufacturing, or even consulting industries more focused on standardization should start using quality together with design thinking so as to get a disciplined empathetic approach to customer requirements.

Are you ready?

Learning About Social Media With ASQ Bloggers

Maybe you’ve heard that blogging or using social media can help further your career and business. This month, ASQ Influential Voices bloggers are sharing their thoughts on the benefits of blogging and social media use–and where to start if you’re interested in doing the same.

Google+ Hangout July 23: On Wednesday, July 23, ASQ is hosting a Google+ Hangout about the value of social media to quality professionals. The Hangout will be held at noon Central Time (U.S.) and also recorded for post-event viewing. We’ll be speaking with some of the ASQ Influential Voices bloggers, including Dan Zrymiak, Jennifer Stepniowski, Edwin Garro, and Babette Ten HakenWatch the Hangout or get more details.

Updated July 28: Watch a recording of the Hangout!

Blog Boom: And you want a deeper dive into the hows and whys of blogging, readthe article “Blog Boom” in July Quality Progress. It’s an in-depth conversation with ASQ Influential Voices bloggers Dan Zrymiak, Jennifer Stepniowski, Mark Graban, Jimena Calfa, and John Hunter.