ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - November 2001


Issue Highlight — Actions That Might Matter
In Actions That Might Matter, Peter Block challenges us to rethink our well-intended and often automatic urge during difficult times to just "Do Something!" Think instead, he asks, about authentic change, shifting consciousness, relationships, and reconciliation.

Views For A Change

In This Issue...
Global Quality from Johnsonville, WI, to Durban, South Africa, with Jennifer James
The Drugs Are in the Mail
Virtually Amazing
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along
What Did You Just Say?

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change
Brief Cases

Return to NFC Index

Consultant Q&A

Vince Ventresca Responds:

As you assess your situation, it is important to keep two questions in mind:

  1. Can I truly impact the greater cause?
  2. If I cannot truly impact the greater cause, am I willing to accept the status quo or a lesser level of progress?

Successful organizational change initiatives typically have one primary commonality—support from the top levels of the organization. Taking charge of a grass-roots effort to influence change throughout the greater organization can be daunting.

Start with smaller efforts, and accrue a series of “wins” in order to begin effecting change. Once you accumulate several successes with these initiatives, you will gradually attract a larger group of supporters and be able to take on greater projects. First, though, you will need to build a team of supporters.

Think about those areas within your immediate control and influence. Identify potential change agents who are forward thinking and willing to assist your initiative. Next, obtain the support of opinion leaders in your area(s). Getting these folks on your team is one of the most important components of a grass-roots effort.

Facilitate focus sessions with your team to identify areas in which you can impact change. Consider the following in your sessions:

  • When people leave your department or area, what are the most common reasons?
  • What are the most common customer complaints (internal and external customers)?
  • Where in the mechanical processes can you find inefficiencies resulting in lost opportunities or profit?
  • Where in the management processes can you find inefficiencies resulting in lost opportunities, profit, and/or reduced employee morale?

Once you and your team have developed a list of the areas that need improvement, rank them based on importance to the organization and ease of execution. Select several of the smaller initiatives to begin. These initiatives should be easy to implement, yet make a significant impact.

For example, a manager in one of our client organizations who wanted to effect positive change and employee involvement recognized that the method in which paychecks were distributed weekly was inefficient. Her team brainstormed a quick, no cost solution, implemented it, and was instantly rewarded with praise from several departments for the increased efficiency. With that momentum behind them, the team chose several other initiatives in the same vein. Each time the team members and opinion leaders promoted the change internally among their peer groups. Soon this team became recognized through the company as a high-performance group. They took on larger projects and had many requests by others in the company who wanted to become involved in their success.

As you can see by the above example, one of the most important elements your team will have to create is your plan to market your success within the greater organization and manage the communications. By using the team members and opinion leaders to carry word of your successes into the organization, your efforts will certainly catch the attention of senior management. As your successes become more evident, seek a champion from the executive level of the organization to represent your efforts and the team at that level.

VINCE VENTRESCA, PMP, is a project consultant at Advanced Management Services, Inc. His firm consults and trains in continuous improvement, project management, and management development. Ventresca focuses on integrating quality principles into project and organizational development practices and the synergy of people, process, and technology. He can be reached at (781) 344-1103, or at


H. James Harrington Responds

Question for Consultants

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