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October 29th, 2022

Traditionally, a Continuous Improvement project is about applying a robust and proven problem-solving methodology and a suite of data analysis tools to identify, understand and improve processes.  These approaches range from the straightforward Plan Do Check Act to the more sophisticated DMAICT, and there is no doubt that structure and discipline lend objectivity and credibility to improvement effort.

However, every seasoned Continuous Improvement Practitioner will tell you that it all works perfectly until people get involved. “The soft issues are the hard issues,” they say.  How do we work with the apparent unpredictability of people, accommodating their widely varying needs, opinions and beliefs and satisfying everyone?  Why do our efforts to communicate continually fail?  What skills and tools do we need to leverage our Continuous Improvement expertise and make improvements truly sustainable?

Managing stakeholders begins with understanding them.  Identifying who your stakeholders are and engaging them as early as possible in the improvement project both eliminates misunderstandings further down the line and increases opportunities for them to get involved and contribute to the changes you are trying to introduce.  An early analysis of the extent to which people will be affected by your plans and their potential influence on them (whether negative or positive) can help you prepare for your first meetings.  Different tactics are required when selling your ideas to a senior person who could be a major obstacle to those who are on the margins but are broadly supportive.

Read our full article here.

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