The Human Side of Teams: Influence Without Authority


Nichols, Alice E.   (1991, ASQC)   Oganizational Dynamics, Inc., Burlington, MA

Annual Quality Congress, Milwaukee WI    Vol. 45    No. 0
QICID: 9715    May 1991    pp. 635-639
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Article Abstract

This abstract is an edited version of the author's original.

This paper discusses the human side of quality improvement and the need to break away from the old rules (formal channels of information flow and bureaucratic processes), which can stifle innovation, stop quality implementation, and put handcuffs on problem-solving teams. Flat, matrixed organizations give employees an opportunity to break the old rules and to influence without authority.

The model described is based on the work of Cohen and Bradford (Influence without Authority), which defines critical elements for success: (1) Clarify your goals and priorities; (2) Diagnose the world of the other; (3) Identify relevant currencies; (4) Build relationships; and (5) Align with the organization. The last element must be balanced against employees' fears of being manipulated; this is accomplished by: (1) exchanging currencies based on strengths; (2) being genuine and explicit about your purpose; and (3) allowing yourself to be influenced.

These concepts and skills include understanding your own goals and priorities, assessing the worlds of your customers and suppliers, identifying their hot buttons or currencies, exchanging effectively, and building long-term strategic alliances.


Problem solving,Quality improvement (QI),Teams,Human resources (HR),Influence,Leadership

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