Sunday, September 23, 2018

Strategies to Reduce Change Resistance

The September 2018 ASQ Roundtable topic asks, "What are some recommended strategies or tactics to help achieve successful change management?" It’s often said that people don’t resist “change” so much as they resist “being changed.” So, the job of change management is clear: In a nutshell, you must explain why the affected people should want to change, and thereby cultivate readiness instead of resistance."

Another popular saying regarding change resistance is that the only people who like change are babies (infants). But change is constant, and the rate of change in today's world is ever increasing. A mathematical model representing change acceptance is Q x A = E, where Q is the qualitative (technical) solution, A is the acceptance of change, and E equals the effectiveness of the project.

The successful change project recognizes that the team, stakeholders, influencers and the people directly impacted by the proposed change must first understand the change and how it affects them; their reservations, concerns and resistance must be acknowledged and addressed, and they must all embrace the change.

In an article titled "The 7 Dynamics of Change", Kenneth Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, wrote that people:
  • feel awkward, ill-at-ease, self-conscious or fearful about change
  • focus on what they think they will have to give up
  • feel alone, even if others are going through the same change
  • are at different levels of readiness for change
  • can handle only so much change
  • are concerned they do not have enough resources to cope with the change
  • will naturally revert to old behaviors if given the opportunity.

The change adoption (aka rate of diffusion) curve illustrates the impact of change readiness.



Given the variability in change effectiveness, what strategies can be deployed to improve readiness and acceptance? GE developed its Change Acceleration Process (CAP) in 1992 as part of its overall strategy to improve its competitive advantage. GE's CAP is a set of tools designed to accelerate and increase change effectiveness:

  • create a shared need for the change
  • understand and deal with resistance
  • mobilize commitment by building an effective influence strategy
  • continuous communication plan
  • address both the technical and human change strategies

The high-level GE CAP Model is shown below.



In an article published by Fast Company magazine (2008), author Dan Feliciano states, "It’s not that people don’t like change… they don’t like ambiguity and punishment." Dan offers, "Organizations need to focus on creating and communicating strategies to the employees... by creating goals, objectives, measures, targets, and identifying and resourcing key initiatives for your organization and then cascading the measure and initiatives to every person throughout the organization."

Building an influence strategy not only involves the engagement of the organization's leaders and managers, but also identifying the presence of any "Keyhubs" within the ranks of its employees. A keyhub is an individual, not on the org chart, who's experience/ opinion/ insight is highly sought after and respected by peers and colleagues. "Understanding these informal networks enables leaders to align the organization with its strategic direction and move more quickly and effectively. Once you get the culture, you can execute on strategy [and change] with greater ease and efficiency", Vikas Narula (@NarulaTweets), Creator and Co-Founder of Keyhubs (@Keyhubs).

Finally, holding the gains of any change effort requires the implementing of Systems and Structures that reward desired behaviors resulting in successful results, while making it difficult and even painful (more effort) to revert to old behaviors. Desired behaviors must be modeled by the organization's leaders. Such behaviors will create the experiences necessary to instill the right beliefs leading to sustainable culture change. (Journey to the Emerald City by Roger Connors and Tom Smith).

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Quality in the Experience Economy

In March 2018 ASQ posited that "over the past two decades consumers have been gravitating towards purchases that are of both high quality and provide an experience. Quality of a product or service alone is no longer a differentiator, quality of experience is. Consumers are buying what will not only satisfy a need, but will illicit an emotion or establish a connection."

ASQ asks, "How will this shift to an experience economy affect the quality industry? What quality practices can be applied or adapted to ensure success in this new economic structure?"

In the Experience economy your products and/or services can surpass competitors by creating a consistently superior experience for your customer, delivering increased perceived value. In today's experiential economy the reliability and quality of products and services alone are considered "expected" or  "basic" levels of quality achievement. Today's savvy consumers want satisfying experiences throughout the value chain, from when they first gain awareness of your product or service, to its purchase and even post-purchase transactions. Every step along this value chain is an opportunity (aka touchpoint) to delight the customer. In this experience based economy, a satisfying customer experience delivers a demonstrable competitive advantage. Higher levels of satisfaction lead to increased customer loyalty. The ultimate expression of such loyalty is customer advocacy of your products and services. Customer advocates provide trusted word of mouth advertising, resulting in increased sales, revenue, and growth. A great way to begin understanding the customer experience with your products and services is to construct a "Journey Map" for each customer type.

In their book, A leader’s guide to innovation in the experience economy, B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore state that "Mass customization is the route up the progression of economic value (see Exhibit 1), customizing a good turns it into a service, customizing a service turns it into an experience and customizing an experience turns it into a transformation. Companies should focus on reaching inside of the individual, living, breathing customer, making their offerings as personal and as individual as the customer – whether it’s a consumer or business desiring that offering."


What quality practices can be applied or adapted to ensure success in this new economic structure?

In order to achieve the goal of delivering consistently superior customer experience, the organization and its Quality professionals must focus on the customer. Everyone in the organization - from the CEO to management, staff, production, and support must understand who their customers are and what they value; understand the organization's strengths and weaknesses, who are your competitors and what are your customers' perceptions of the competitors' advantages. A customer-focused organization must also develop strategies, objectives and tactics to meet future customer requirements and organizational needs.

The Baldrige Criteria offers a well-structured framework to build organizational performance excellence, focusing on the key areas of:
  • Leadership
  • Strategic Planning
  • Customers
  • Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management
  • Workforce
  • Operations
  • Results

Understanding your organizational profile and situation are excellent places to begin the improvement journey. Customer-focused organizations typically require that EVERYONE become a Problem Solver, often implementing such improvement strategies as Lean, Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, etc. Strategic Planning should include an environmental scan and benchmarking to reveal the organization's strategic challenges and opportunities, and encourage intelligent risk to drive innovation. The organization's core competencies must be identified, strengthened and leveraged to achieve its strategies and objectives. Strategic planning, business execution and change management are areas ripe for the quality professional to build upon his/her ancillary skills.

A customer focused organization that consistently delivers superior customer satisfaction resulting in loyalty and advocacy can only be achieved with an empowered and engaged workforce. "Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first." (Simon Sinek). An engaged employee gives his/her utmost. Again, per Simon Sinek, "The responsibility of leadership is to serve their people so that their people may better serve the customer. If leaders fail to serve their people first, customer and company will suffer." Quality professionals can strengthen their indispensability to the organization by building on their competencies of process and systems thinking to enhance teamwork dynamics and manage organizational white spaces, resulting in improved organizational communication, alignment and performance.

Implementing a measurement system to monitor customers' perceptions of your products and services is another key area of focus for the Quality professional. In today's connected world, metrics around social media content and customer feedback are necessary to understand and improve customer relationships. Commercial services now exist to help an organization listen to its current customers, lost customers and potential customers.

Improving the quality of your organization's performance effectiveness will deliver delightful customer experiences.