ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - July 2000

Issue Highlight - WWW
- Friends of mine showed me a letter recently that I thought you might find interesting. It might be a sign of things to come in this New Economy:

In This Issue...
Is Anyone Out There?
Increasing A Good Idea's Profitability
Internal Audits
Every Summit Beckons A Conqueror
Finding Your Way Home In The Workplace

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change

Heard on the Street
Sites Unseen

Views For A Change
Consultant Q&A

John Runyan Responds:
   You are on a right track, when you start by inviting people to participate in innovation and change vs. starting with orders or threats.

   I head into any new OD work with the assumptions that: Most people are smart, care about what they are doing and want to make a contribution to the organization.
I think these premises are true, even when some staff are apparently opposed to innovation and change.

   Begin by seeking out a single partner with whom to launch your efforts-ideally someone in the department who has lived in the bureaucracy for a long time and has initiated and followed through with at least one change in her/his way of working. If no one fits this description, look for the most savvy and experienced member of the bureaucracy who shares some common interest or expertise with you. If still no one comes to mind, look for the member of the department who seems to be paying the highest price for maintaining the status quo, even if he/she seems to be stuck, also.

   Approach this staff member with the intent to inquire about how he/she sees his/her work and the department. Spend time getting to know this person's values and perceptions about how the department has done its work over the years and on into this governor's term. When you have learned enough and made a connection, broach the idea of jointly conducting an "appreciative inquiry/ quality of work life and work outcomes" project aimed at identifying:

 The values, perceptions and perspectives of current staff about their work,
The current strengths and outcomes of the efforts of departmental staff,
The projections of staff about their efforts in the coming years,
The staff's perceptions about the risks and rewards of past, present and future changes.
   Building on your expertise and leveraging the insight of your staff partner, I would jointly conduct this project as a way to:

Respectfully inquire of members in your department and honor their efforts to date,
Demonstrate that OD, QI and appreciative inquiry processes can be used to understand and draw the best from staff, whatever their initial stances about change,
Develop important information about the department's work climate.

   This is an opportunity to confirm people in what they are already doing right, as well as highlight what else needs to be done. Encourage participants in this initial inquiry to bring their agendas for continuity and change. Once people have had a chance to articulate their perspectives, they may be in a better place to hear and act on the priorities of others, from the governor on down. Obviously, it would be great, if the governor could do some of the inquiring and listening also as a way to demonstrate his concern, commitment and sponsorship for what you are trying to do.

   Starting with the steps above gives you the chance to reach those who have honorable intentions and a mix of skepticism and energy. And, at worst, you can put yourself, your agency leaders and other OD advocates in a place to say that you have genuinely tried to join those who are targets of potential change projects-before turning to more draconian measures or giving up totally yourself.

David Farrell Responds
Question for the Consultants

July 2000 News for a Change Homepage

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