Project Kaizen: Friday

Today’s theme are the drastic, fast changes of a whole project. A blitz takes time and preparation. It is intended to produce a big result.

Of all the project kaizen topics, I found this the most difficult. Worse, I avoided thinking about it. I wish I could boldly and bravely charge forward, brandishing my herald of change but I can’t. Now I realize that I fear it. Particularly big changes made quickly. Coming full circle, some points I made Monday bear iteration; that of the need to involve line people in change activities in spite of our inherent diffidence because my fears and reactions are not unique. Line workers can be the biggest barriers to change in the workforce -using hostility, absentia and outright subversion to undermine the process -all of these behaviors are provoked by fear.

Considering that countless projects have been derailed by lack of consensus, confusion, complexity and competence to manage change -as I said Monday- the process must be inclusionary and transparent to everyone. Saying the process is transparent doesn’t erase the memory of past failed projects. Lip serving that the process is inclusionary is -minimally- patronizing and I may only be a line worker but I resent platitudes. Both resentment and cynicism are symptoms of fear and regardless of how worker’s fears are manifest, these must be managed. How can project leaders deal with behaviors and reactions of people like me? I think the best way to start is to describe some of the things I fear….

I fear a negative outcome.
I fear the plant will close and I’ll lose my job.
I fear that I won’t be able to perform at the level of my past competence.
I fear making mistakes and that my mistakes will impact the work of others.
I fear being exposed as the fraud I secretly fear I may be.
I fear I’m not up to the task; that other’s confidence in me is misplaced.
I fear disappointing people that I admire and respect.
I fear the responsibility, my role is not clear.

…and through fear, I have become inert and unable to move forward. Considering these fears, one could see why some line workers are known to subvert the process -not that it’s excusable. Or maybe I’m abnormally fearful but I don’t think so. It’s more likely that others don’t choose to admit it. The better question is, how does one move through the inertia wrought by fear? Are the answers here, here or here? All week I had ready fast answers but today I have none. Today, I only have questions.

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  1. Carnival of Lean Leadership #4

    Welcome to the fourth Carnival of Lean Leadership. There’s a lot of material to cover this time, so we’ll get right to it… The highlight of the past week has been the blogfest on project kaizen by The Gang of

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