The most critical item to the success of a Six Sigma project is management support. We always check and ask for it. But is what we ask for what we really want?
SUPPORT YOU DON’T WANT
There are four types of management support that you really do not want to have. They are support by command, decreed rules, authorized overrides, and redirection of resources. With these employees tend, luckily, to use their best judgment to “adjust” the dictates to make things work. But doing that adds to the confusion and never really solves the problem. Many times it make matters worse. Plus if you are the one these are suppose to help, these support type have just done the opposite. Think about it when a manager commands you to do something, changes the rules, gives someone the authority to not follow the standard procedure, or pull resources from you for a “Pet Project”; how do you feel? Frustrated, confused, and angry not a good way to start a project.
SUPPORT YOU DO WANT
Lucky for us there are four other ways for management to support our projects. They are cultural change, mentoring, identifying informal leaders, and legitimate ways around roadblocks. Of these four by far the best one is cultural change.
Support through cultural change happens when the managers uses their persuasive power to create a company culture that embraces change instead of fighting it. Where they show employees the benefits of being evolved in solving the companies issues and problems. This is empowerment to help make the change not “My way or the Highway”
Support through mentoring – Today’s companies are complex and sometimes confusing as to who or where to go for help in solutions to roadblocks. A mentor is a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. This should be management ( your project sponsor). Management has the top level birds’ eye view of the company that allows them to guide you through that company maze identifying who can help you solve your roadblocks.
Support through informal leaders – Many times it is not a manager that is the expert but some individual engineer, supervisor, or lead technician that has the answers to a problem. But I can assure you management knows who these “informal leaders” are and can guide you to them.
Support through legitimate ways around a roadblock – There maybe way to get issues solved through resource not known to you as the project leader. Here again management with their birds eye view of the company may know just where to find that resource. For example you may need a mechanical engineer for your project but engineering can not part with one due to work loads. Management may know a place, like a temp organization that they could hire one to do the job for this project.
So as you can see when you ask for management support think about what you will need and let them know what that is. Both you and management will be much happier with the results.