It might be too late to get “Buy In” by the time you bemoan the lack of it
Another question I get thrown at me very often is something along the lines of “How do we get more buy in for ______” with that space being filled with Lean, Kaizen, 5S, using the EMR system, improvement, or any number of terms.
If you do a Google search for
Lean “lack of buy in”
There are many results.
What do you read?
“I [our friend Jamie Flinchbaugh] am frequently engaged to overcome a lack of buy-in at organizations…”
“A lack of buy-in is most common in organizations that are new to Six Sigma.”
Ah, so it's not just a Lean problem. I'm sure people used to ask “How do we get more buy in for TQM?” back in the day or “How do we get more buy in for these Deming ideas?”
“Even with Senior Management's buy-in, lack of buy-in from from operational management …”
People are often blaming the employees for their lack of buy in, but the problem is seen when looking in any direction.
“The lack of buy-in, resistance, and push back starts the second we begin…”
“…this leads to a lack of buy-in from those most needed in the process…”
“…uncertainly, and anxiety, often leading to lack of buy-in and employee resistance.”
That last quote, from Peter Hines and co-authors, is starting to get beyond blame.
WHY is there a lack of buy in?
“Why?” is a really powerful Lean question, and we could try to do a “5 Whys” analysis here (or a “Many Whys” analysis).
The lack of buy in often traces back to a:
- Lack of engagement
- Not being involved in defining the problem, just being given a solution
- Lack of communication
- Lack of trust (people fear layoffs, maybe for good reason)
- Lack of leadership
We might hear a complaint of, “There's a lack of buy in about 5S” when the problem is that 5S is being pushed on people and maybe it's being used to solve trivial “problems” instead of real problems that matter.
Rather than getting well into some Lean initiative and discovering “there's a lack of buy in because our Lean efforts have only focused on cost,” the time to get “buy in” or engagement is EARLY in a project, initiative, or transformation.
That's a lesson that we demonstrate and learn through the Experience Change simulation that's part of the workshop I'm now facilitating (including in the Dallas area on March 15).
In the simulation, which I ran a few weeks ago in San Antonio, participants work together in small teams to understand a case study that's built around the need to improve patient flow through the emergency department. The simulation is about “implementing Lean” but it's really about working to solve a problem that matters.
That's one reason the simulation doesn't give participants a good score if they jump to action too quickly, trying to push solutions on people without first building a case for change… without communicating effectively.
One group in that last workshop was really frustrated… being very experienced with Lean, they saw the need to jump to action. The problem needs solving now! “Enough with the presentations,” said one guy in a group.
As I blogged about before, John Kotter wrote about how under communication is often a fatal flaw in big change initiatives. To communicate effective to a large organization, you're going to have to feel like you're OVER communicating. You need to use lots of different channels and media to reach people and to get your message across. Oh, and the communication had better be two-way communication.
In the workshop simulation, as in real life, if you get too far down a path of action without getting proper buy in… there's no going back. It's too late. Game over.
It's better to learn these lessons in a safe environment, like a computer simulation, and a workshop. If you'd like to learn more about the workshop, see this webinar that I did late last year, and click here to contact me if you'd like to talk about bringing this learning experience to your organization.
What have you seen in your organizations and experience? What leads to a “lack of buy in?” Is there anything other than time, effort, communication, and leadership that gets more people “on board” with change? Are we blaming those who aren't “buying” or thinking about those who maybe aren't doing the right “selling?”
Reminder: Greg Jacobson, MD and I are also doing a free webinar on February 16 on this topic of “buy in.” Click here to register.