In Part 1, we find Cara, a performance consultant has been hired to help a former client with implementing a robust training system. After waiting 3 months for the executive leadership group to get aligned around the priority for Miguel’s RTS project, Cara finally got to debrief her assessment findings. But a new development surfaced that was unexpected.
In part 3 we see how Cara facilitates the design team of SMEs through various stages of being of team.
“Please tell me, how you think YOU are going to train us on OUR procedures when you do not work here nor do you have any background in the science part of what we do here?” she spewed.
“But, who are you? I mean you just can’t walk in here and change our procedures!” she retorted.
“Ah, yes, I have been vetted by Miguel, you know, the VP of Quality and have already met several of his peers during the assessment debriefing meeting. They have all read the assessment report and agreed for these SMEs to be the design team. You can look me up in Linked-In later if you want to. But for now, would you like to take a seat or will you stand for the rest of the lesson?” she asked.
The timing and sequencing for the last lesson, “Foundations of Teamwork” was not accidental. Cara set up the curriculum to build knowledge first with an immediate need to apply in order to close their knowledge and experience gap and prepare them for the much-needed discussions without getting bogged down in terminology. This last lesson introduced them to stages of team development and what to expect as the honeymoon phase of the project faded and the real work began. A key piece of this lesson was to emphasize how to offer a different perspective while maintaining respect to team members (their peers) rather than remaining silent when not in agreement.
(Re)-DESIGNING A SYSTEM: FUTURE STATE VISION
With these 4 lessons delivered, Cara returned to the previous assignment of marked up process flows. Cara anticipated that most of the team might have difficulty envisioning a future state that would be different from their current state.
“Thank you for your time and participation in the last four meetings and special thanks for those of you who have already been trained on these concepts. The temptation to skip it and finish other pressing work was very real and your enthusiasm to show up and attend speaks volumes to your commitment to the team and for the project,” said Cara.
But that’s not how we do it here!
“Before we delve back into these marked-up process flows, I ask that you remain open to ideas and suggestions not only from me but from your colleagues who have come from other similar companies. It may be difficult to envision a future state that looks different from today, but please don’t let that become a barrier for you. If you find yourself thinking or saying ‘that’s not how we do it’, then you need to ‘fess up and ask for patience’ while you recognize what state you’re in. Can you all do this?” Cara asked.
To quiet fears that this was all a big waste of time or that “management will never buy into any of this” Cara initiated a project issues log. She assured them that this list would be on the agenda for each weekly check-in with Miguel. And the updates would be reflected in the weekly project status updates. Teams often stall or lose momentum when issues and concerns go unresolved, so Cara told the team that this was also part of her role as interim project manager.
“Remember, we are not allowed to talk about change control!”
Each week the team met to redesign one process flow at a time from the training policy to curricula management to qualified trainers, training delivery, and effectiveness measures. Cara monitored how the team shared their differing points of view and how receptive they were to work on a joint process that could be implemented across the functions not just for Operations or for the QC lab.
Without fail, the energy and momentum would derail when the discussion found its way to the current state of their change control quality system. Once again, the role of Cara as interim project manager was to get them back on track, future-focused, and not get mired in current barriers. For the most outspoken member of the team, this nearly shut her down. It was a real barrier and nearly threatened to compromise the team’s future success.
“Yes, there is no denying that change control needs to be fixed. That what we are proposing will not fly with how it is defined today,” said Cara.
“But future state is being designed on the assumption that change control will be redesigned first. We still have a lot of preparation work to do before we are even close to submitting these for change control. And that is why change control is out of scope for this team. We will not delay our deliverables because we decided mid-stream to go fix change control first. There are plans for a change control project team to begin and some of you may be tapped to participate.”
And then Cara directed the next question to the member in distress.
“Can you proceed with us knowing that change control is out of scope for us?” she asked.
“No. This is the wrong priority and all this work will have to be redone because it will be rejected by the Change Control Manager when it’s all said and done!” she retorted.
“What if you were to be the Change Control Manager, would this change your viewpoint?” asked Cara.
“No, I don’t want to be the Change Control Manager. I just want change control fixed now,” she snapped and then shared a litany of items that were being delayed because of the backlog in change control.
“Can you proceed with us or shall we find a replacement for you?” Cara asked again.
“Let’s continue and I’ll make a decision before our next meeting,” she mumbled.
The rest of the team sat still and watched the volley back and forth. Apparently, this was not the first time the team experienced their peer’s change control rant. This time, however, the team was mesmerized by how Cara maintained respect while letting their peer air her frustration; truly modeling team rules and getting to the heart of the matter. Cara practiced what she taught in the earlier lessons. After this episode, whenever anyone even said the word change control, they joked and said: “we’re not allowed to discuss change control anymore, remember?”
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Who is Vivian Bringslimark?
(c) HPIS Consulting, Inc.
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