Guest post by Lonnie Wilson, author of How To Implement Lean Manufacturing.
In an article in IndustryWeek, Lean expert Lonnie Wilson explains how change agents must be different enough to change the status quo but credible enough to connect and engage those in management and in the workforce who need to change:
“Sounds odd, doesn’t it? The implication is that you need to be weird to be a change agent. It’s not entirely true; it’s only true if you want to be an effective change agent. And you just have to be a little weird, not weird on the grand scale of things.
Why is that?
Let’s conjure up a little context. Let’s say your company has declared it will undertake a lean initiative and pattern itself after the Toyota Production System. As part of the initiative, the company has selected you to be one of the ‘change agents.’
To be an effective change agent, you need to be at least a little different, if for no other reason than you are chartered to change and ‘take us away from the status quo.’ Unfortunately, the majority favor the status quo for a variety of good, bad and nonsensical reasons. This puts you in a distinct minority, which alone is reason enough for many to declare you ‘weird.'”
In addition, you are expected to exhibit curiosity and question why and how ‘we do some of the things we do around here.’ Well, ‘how we do things around here’ is a pretty good operational definition of ‘our culture.’ Hence, you then become a person who not only questions but may even challenge the very culture of your corporation. As soon as you start to question and challenge ‘how we do things around here, ‘it becomes pretty hard not to be viewed as being a little, if not really, ‘weird.’
You then are seen as ‘weird’ not only by the majority but also by the very people who commissioned you to be the change agent in the first place.”
Click here to read the rest of the article.
Lonnie Wilson has been teaching and implementing lean and other culture-changing techniques for more than 40 years. He is the founder of Quality Consultants and author of the bestselling McGraw-Hill book How To Implement Lean Manufacturing. Wilson is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars.