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Change Resistance
Part 5 of 5

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Lean Manufacturing, Basics, Principles, Techniques

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Participation and Involvement

The quickest path to sizzling change is through participation and in­volvement. People working together toward a common goal create synergistic effects that go well beyond what would be expected from indi­viduals working separately. People get turned on and the fire of enthu­siasm spreads rapidly. Management's role is key in this area. First, if workers are to create change at the highest level of effectiveness, man­agement must DEMONSTRATE, through both words and actions, that they are committed to successful change and that they will participate as much (or more) than anyone else. Second, they must help develop a culture in which it's okay to try something new, fail, and try again, without fear of reprisal. At lower levels, people often discover what works and what doesn't through experimentation. Workers have a re­sponsibility to understand the vision and to find ways to execute the change in the most effective manner possible. True participative pro­cesses involve workers making decisions in an empowered environ­ment. Managers need to recognize success and reward workers for their efforts. Management needs to provide the "why" and let the combined talents of the workers figure out the "how" of things.


The quickest road to drizzle and fizzle is lack of trust. Underlying ev­ery technique described in the previous section is a fundamental un­derstanding that mutual trust and respect are critical to successful change efforts. While trust is critical, it is not always easy to establish, sustain, or recover if lost. Managers need to be conscious of every "moment of truth" involving interaction with others in the organization. Workers need to do the same. In situations where trust has never existed, or has been lost, efforts need to be redoubled to get back on solid ground. At the heart of trust is honesty in every action that's undertaken in an organizational setting. Managers must provide a strong leadership role in creating and fostering trust.

Support and Empathy

Perhaps the most human aspect of the whole change management pro­cess is embodied here. All participants, whether managers or workers, need to feel that someone else understands what they're going through during times of change. A supportive action or comment, or a provi­sion of extra resources to help with the hard times, will help everyone to succeed. It helps to put yourself in someone else's shoes to try to see their concerns and reservations. For managers, it's important to sustain support and empathy, even after the change has been completed. The author visited an organization that had instituted a wildly successful, worker driven continuous improvement process. During the first year, management paid special attention to worker efforts at change. In the second year, management paid less attention to the workers once the new system was "running smoothly." Workers viewed this as a lack of interest and support in their ongoing improvement efforts and the posi­tive changes ground to a halt.


Organizations can experience positive, sizzling change by understand­ing the change process and creating an environment where everyone's efforts are recognized and valued. By applying a few simple techniques, managers and workers can cooperate to overcome resistance to change and create a stronger, continuously improving organization.


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