Driving Consensus

Encouraging process improvements requires driving consensus.  Whether, the initiatives comes from the top or has its roots on the ground floor, its success requires agreement to its concept from all levels of the organization.  To obtain this agreement necessitates a personal approach to breaking through the resistance.  Typically, a person can find resistance in three forms:  rational, personal, and emotional.

Rational concerns over a process improvement are sourced by misunderstanding or disbelief in the particular details of the effort.  In many cases, simply going through more detail will alleviate any concerns, however sometimes the resistance will persist.  Since at the core of this resistance is a commitment for what’s best for the company, opening up a partnership through the execution of the improvement provides an opportunity to both parties to move forward with the effort.  Because the resiting party is now involved, they have some responsibility to the success of the effort, while the executing team has a valued ally to identify possible hurdles that may arise.  Proper planning and communication can mitigate most of this form of resistance to process improvements

Some resistance comes from a personal issues such as resentment, loss of job, or anxiety.  Most of these concerns have nothing to do with the improvement, but more about the environment where the improvement are made.  This happens often in organizations where process improvements are not properly explained or where past “improvements” have had a negative impact on the workforce.  This type of resistance is the hardest to overcome because it requires building tremendous amounts of confidence in the improvement before it is ever implemented.  A positive work environment has a huge impact on the success of process improvements to overcome personal resistance.

Apathy, shock, or mistrust towards a process improvement is the source of emotional resistance.  The majority of this form of resistance is validated in environments where innovation and improvements are just another idea after another going through the resolving door of support.  With constant ideas being implemented “just to see if they work,” any serious improvement to the process becomes just another effort not to be committed to because it will be replaced within the next six months.  Mapping initiatives to business strategy goes further to ensure long-term acceptance of improvements.

Consensus requires a commitment from all parties to look towards the good of the company and not personal agenda.