A Practical Approach to Change: Some Strategies and Tools by Peter Scholtes

Guest post by John Hunter, author of Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability.

Peter Scholtes shared his thoughts on A Practical Approach to Change: Some Strategies and Tools at the 1991 Ohio Quality and Productivity Forum conference.

YouTube video

In this presentation, Peter gives an entertaining and useful look at the types of personal attitudes toward change (explorers, pioneers, etc.). In order to successfully adopt a change in an organization this model can help plan and evaluate the progress of the initiative.

I’ve often heard Peter emphasis the importance of focusing improvement efforts on important matters for the organization. Others feel that getting people familiar with the improvement process and gaining experience is worthwhile and therefore accept working on simple efforts without much benefit in order to get started. As Peter said in the presentation:

I’ve seen too many early improvement efforts aimed at things of no consequence. Take on your big business issues and show that Dr. Deming’s teachings are relevant to the major business needs.

Peter also talked about the importance of participative management but that what is required is far more than just creating systems to make sure there are strong lines of communication within the organization. People need to feel they are heard and for that to really lead to action, but that must be done within a management system that understands variation, systems thinking etc..

My observation about planning in most American organizations is that it is just a sort of grown up version of a kid’s Christmas wish list – takes place about the same time of year. So what I do as a manager doing planning is I make a list of wishes – here is what I wish will happen next year. And then I turn it over to a people whose job it is to do those things.

And then at the end of the year I say why didn’t you do those things? How come you didn’t make my wishes come true? Thats a little cynical but it’s not very far off what most of our planning processes consist of, a series of wishes.

Peter then discusses how a tree diagram can be used to think about the planning process and create better plans for improvement.

He closed with:

People don’t resist change. People resist being changed.

If you want to minimize resistance to change, involve people. Listen to them, help them to understand the need for change, help them to get involved in planning the response to the need. The more than can understand and the more they can participate the less resistance you’ll get.

Respect people enough to woo them, to listen to them, to involve them in change.

Related: Leading Quality: Some Practical Approaches to the Managers New JobEffective Change Management Strategies and TacticsPeople Take Time to Believe Claims of Changed Management Practicesevery time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized

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