If you watch the TV or read the newspaper over the past month you have seen a rash of incidents in which the new president says one thing and his cabinet members say something entirely different. This inconsistency of message leads to an inconsistent message to the employees of the government, our allies and more important to the customers of this country – its citizens. I hear many media pundits who lay out what this could mean for the country in the years to come. This is not a political rant, but rather to lay out circumstances that are found not only in the current administration in Washington but also in our organizations every day.
Consider this real life experience I encountered in my first job as a teacher in the late 1960’s. The school had a policy in place that said students coming down the stairs could not skip stairs in doing it. On one day, as a teacher in the school I caught some students doing just that. When I made them go back up stairs and return in the correct fashion, the principal followed the students down the stairs and then in front of them informed me that I did not have the authority to tell them to enforce the non-skipping policy. How do you think that affected the way the students looked towards what I had to say in the classroom?
Either by design or the nature of your organizational culture you find this every day in the workplace. Upper management decides that they are going to try something different, but when the message reaches the human capital asset level, the manager/supervisor tells them we have been there before and these ideas never last so just do things the way we have always done it. Or reverse that, the front line people discover that there is a better way to complete a process but when presented to management, they respond by saying this is not the way we do things here.
The success of any TLS Continuum implementation requires two conditions. First is that the initial stage of the process to educate the entire organization on where the problem is and why the solution is being suggested. Part of that education process to let the human capital assets at all levels know what is in it for them after the implementation is completed. The second part of the process is that new way of doing things becomes part of the corporate mantra. There are no two schools of thoughts. There are no management saying this is what we are going to do and mid management saying we are not going to do this, do it my way. It is critical that every facet of the organization is relaying to the stakeholders that the new effort to meet their demands is the new normal within their relationship.
In order to avoid the TLS Continuum Process Improvement Perfect Storm you have a decision to make. Either you are interacting with your customers on a common message as to the improvement efforts or you are working as a free agent where you are sending mixed messages to the stakeholder. If you are delivering mixed messages your effort to improve the organization in order to satisfy the customer is doomed to failure.