Ask your co-workers,
friends and customers how
they define the following, and prepare to be
surprised by the diversity of answers you receive:
Is it any wonder that most
organizations struggle with these areas? If we cannot clearly define and agree
upon the common meaning attached to these words (and numerous others like them),
then they become just buzzwords. Any attempt to translate strategy into action
by using them becomes bogged down in miscommunication, resulting in misdirected
effort which can sometimes be fatal to your efforts.
Most people will roll their
eyes when someone suggests that they take time out of their busy days to engage
in a discussion regarding definitions around the various buzzwords in
circulation today (sometimes referred to as 'operational definitions'). But
without clear meaning, communications become extremely fuzzy. And fuzziness can
kill your efforts at performance improvement.
What can you do to engage
people in such essential discussions, without having them roll their eyes? Here
are 7 ways in which you can get their attention and involvement:
Provide clear examples from
everyday work-life showing how miscommunication has caused problems. For
example, do you and your customers agree on a definition of 'quality'?
Provide a starter set of
definitions, which the team can beat into shape. No sense in reinventing the
Give each team member the
task of investigating one to two definitions each and report back to the team.
There are many resources on the web.
Have the team develop
'illustrative examples' of the definitions in practice in their individual
Find out what other
organizations have done, and benefits they have gained from working with
Provide a small library of
books, articles and journals on quality, reengineering, teamwork, continuous
improvement, etc. which will allow people to explore the deeper meaning of these
words and phrases. Keep the materials in sight and on hand...in the lunch room,
meeting rooms etc
Keep it simple. Have fun. Heck, even have a contest to see who can come up with the
most confusing mission statement, using as many of the most common management
buzzwords they can find!
Good luck with your efforts,
or should I say "Good luck with your efforts to reengineer your operational
definitions using a team based approach to continuous improvement of
| About Brian Ward|
Brian Ward is a Principal in Affinity Consulting, an Edmonton Alberta based consulting practice. He is the author of Lead People...Manage Things. He has over 25 years of experience working with all levels of leaders and teams as a leadership coach, facilitator and consultant. His website is at www.affinitymc.com