Will your process change pass the hostile board of peers test?

Jeff Cole
Posted: 11/03/2017
 Image: Shutterstock

Do you like tests? One of my degrees is in something called “Quantitative Business Analysis” which is just code words for “get a life pal – you’re spending way too much time with data”.Suffice it to say, my classmates and I endured a lot of exams and I don’t remember enjoying any of them (the exams that is – my classmates were tolerable).  

Today, I view tests more positively because I am running them.  Those of us practicing Lean Six Sigma (LSS) are used to firing up the software and running  tests of our own. It is pretty satisfying to improve a process and then run a test on that key process attribute and find that it improved not only statistically, but hopefully practically as well. 

"Improving a process is also just a code word for changing a process."

If you and I improve a process to make it much faster, by default we must have changed something.   And, unless your organization is totally staffed by robots, that change may have caused actual human beings to stop doing things the old way and start doing them the new way.    Every Lean Six Sigma (LSS) course in the world teaches us to look at the before vs after process metric (like cycle time).  It’s measureable and easy to do. But, what about the human side?

In addition to looking at the hard process results, we should also look at the soft side of how we managed the human part of the change to achieve those results. 

Did you steam-roll over the organization with some form of “brute-force” implementation, dragging the dead bodies out of your way as you stormed toward victory?   Or, did you engage the workforce and do this ‘with’ them, not ‘to’ them? How did you approach this? 

While it is not as easy to operationally measure your human approach (forget those ‘satisfaction’ surveys at the end of the project – too late – project is over…),  there is one test you can apply as you plan and execute your change – I call it the “Hostile Board of Peers” Test.  If you presented your approach to rolling out your current process change to a Hostile Board of Peers – would it pass the test? 

It’s one thing to present to a Board of Peers – people with the same or better skill set and knowledge as you. It’s a different animal to present to a “Hostile” Board of Peers -  guys as good or better than you and they don’t like you – at all.  

The little things you may do that are wrong would be magnified and used against you, not overlooked. These guys are actively searching for any crevice of an opportunity to criticize you.  So what? 

Firstly, I’m not saying to go out and actually put this board together. But, any time we are considering an approach, tactic, strategy, or metric or are just asking ourselves “should I do it this way or that way?”, consider this question:    “If I were to do this and had to present it to a hostile board of my peers, could I cleanly justify or defend what I am about to do?  Is this statistical?   Not at all.  However, it is a good gut-check to use along the way in any change project. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be explaining my afternoon of watching the ball game to my Board of Peer (aka my wife). 

Happy change!

Jeff Cole
Posted: 11/03/2017