Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Leave "Stealth Mode" to the spy planes

Over the years I've heard numerous references to "Process Improvement by Stealth". The New Oxford American Dictionary defines stealth as "cautious and surreptitious action or movement". Neither cautious or surreptitious are words that should be associated with process improvement or indeed any change initiative where the first three laws for success are Communicate, Communicate and Communicate. Stealth mode directly implies that you have something to hide or that something is not quite above board, and this in turn will anger, frustrate and disingenuate your key stakeholders, namely, the very people you are trying to change. If you can't be honest about what you are trying to achieve and the reasons behind it, and you cannot articulate those objectives in an open way then you shouldn't expect to be successful. Not only will the current change initiative fail, you will have sown the seeds for mistrust in future efforts. Is there ever a place for stealth in the world of business change? I believe there is, and there is evidence that it can be successful. The exception to the rule is when the change is initiated from below the management chain, where informal working practices are replaced by more rigourous processes, and adopted across teams and departments without formal process improvement or change management activities, and become the cultural norm. Whole businesses and industries have been born from this kind of stealth which tends to carry risks to individuals rather than organisations. In other cases businesses have been saved significant expenditure by individuals taking stealthy approaches to implementing management mandates which were born through ignorance and micromanagement. In general, however, leave stealth to the spy planes, and approach your change initiatives with open and honest communication and dialogue to minimise your risk of failure. Print this post

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