In a recent CI forum, lack of buy-in from both managers and participants was identified as a frequent reason for the derailment of improvement efforts.
Management support is required to free up the resources to work on improvement, without which meetings tend to get pushed out and progress slows. The slower the effort moves, the more likely it becomes that priorities will change, or problems arise that decrease available resources further. Similarly, when projects fail to produce good results, enthusiasm and buy-in among participants deteriorates rapidly. Unless serious intervention counters this adverse reinforcing loop, subsequent efforts become less and less likely to succeed.
Can greater levels of buy-in be gained via education — possibly education related to the long-term value of CI?
In most organizations, the biggest areas of waste are held in place by functional silos. Misunderstandings about requirements, misalignment of priorities, and mistaken assumptions about constraints, costs, and capabilities all add to the waste embedded in nearly every organization.
Some examples we have seen include purchasing organizations placing orders without effective understanding of the quality and delivery requirements in manufacturing, marketing promotional plans that damage production flows and add more cost than revenue, and product engineering designing products with features the market doesn’t value.
In fact everywhere we go, we see some version of cross-functional dysfunction that results in huge amounts added cost and lost opportunity. Addressing these pockets of waste requires working across the functional silos to collaborate on the best solution for the customers and the organization as a whole.
But these are the hardest improvements to make, as the barriers are steep, such as:
- Turf barriers
- Different performance measurements
- Different priorities
- Communication barriers, and more…
To overcome these barriers, some of the experts on cross-functional teams suggest:
- Intensive team building
- Clearly expressed and understood ground rules
- Clearly defined outcomes and scope of authority
- Limited time frame
- The right people on the team
- A strong and active sponsor
Are there other barriers you have seen? What are the best practices you have seen to overcome the barriers and achieve the cross-functional breakthrough opportunities?
In order to make the kinds of improvements in business that we all aim for, we need to motivate people to engage their brains to the fullest, examine the current work processes critically, think deeply about root causes, and think expansively about possible solutions. We want them to consider alternatives, anticipate and minimize risks, implement planfully, and measure and evaluate results. And we usually want people to do all this while keeping up operational responsibilities as well.
So the challenge of motivating our team becomes very important.
In his recent book, Drive, the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink explores the impact on performance of different approaches to motivation. His research might surprise you!
For more details, we highly recommend his book. You might also read more on the subject in one of our recent newsletter articles.