Posted by Howe Q. Wallace on Thursday, August 29th, 2013
“Lean” is about making progress.
You identify an area where waste is occurring or that can be improved. You decide that you want to improve it. How do you get started?
Teresa Amabile wrote a book called The Progress Principle. She says there are seven catalysts for creating momentum:
Set a goal. Having a target to aim to achieve has a way of making the team pay collective attention.
Allow autonomy. People support what they help to create. Sometimes leaders establish a goal but also provide a detailed agenda for achieving it. Amabile says that people work best when they understand the goal and then are given the opportunity to make the plan to achieve it.
Providing resources. As the CEO, one of the key responsibilities I have is to lead the process for allocating resources. At times, conditions make it necessary to be stingy. Unfortunately, the outcome is that people quit asking for support on things to make our company better. Resources have a way of flowing toward a good idea. Leaders need to be on the alert to make resources available when progress is possible. Colleagues need to be aggressive about asking for them when progress is possible.
Giving enough time – but not too much. Deadlines create urgency. Unrealistic time demands kill commitment. Momentum and progress come when urgency occurs but the project needs the appropriate time to hatch.
Help the work. As a leader, a willingness to put your shoulder to the wheel makes a difference in morale. As a leader, the willingness to find outside help that can aid the momentum speaks volumes. While allowing the creators of the project autonomy has merit, providing the right help at the right time is a balm to frustration and can be the right stimulant to push things over the line.
Learning. Any project is going to have ups and downs. Incorporating positive developments into future progress and learning from disappointments aids progress. Progress is derailed when false steps cause frustration and we don’t learn. It is also derailed when we begin to savor victory before the game is over.
Keep the ideas flowing. Progress accelerates in “idea rich” environments. When teammates feel free to suggest and to experiment with ideas, progress pervades.
Is there something you are involved in that isn’t progressing like you want? Which of these catalysts are missing? Take steps to get them in play.