Getting Lean Buy-In

A few weeks ago Industry Week published a great article by Jamie Flinchbaugh entitled “Securing the Elusive Lean Buy-In.”  I wanted to build upon his article.

Jamie’s first strategy was “Treat them like an customer, not an opponent.”

He couldn’t be more right with this one.  When meeting with an executive or anyone you are trying to get lean buy-in from it is important to view them as a customer.  Ask them what their needs are?  What are some issues they are having?  Use lean as a way to help them resolve their issue.  Work with the person so they see the benefits from a customer’s point of view.  Once people see the benefits they usually become supporters and give the buy-in.

The next strategy was “Have a multistep strategy.”

This ties in with the first strategy of viewing the person as a customer and not an opponent.  Ask yourself, “What does my customer need to understand what I am talking about?”  Part of that strategy can be to show results through solving a problem for them.  While solving the problem look at taking them on a benchmark trip to see something that relates to the problem but will expose them to other aspects of lean.  Let the person see how other leaders are using lean and let them get the questions answered that they want answered from another point of view.  Inject teaching about how you are solving the problem using lean so the person starts to understand how you are using lean in their world.

You may have one central approach where you are injecting other approaches to make it seem like you aren’t attacking them from a hundred directions.  When learning something new teach it 7 ways, 7 times.

The third strategy was “Overcome the valid “no.””

Jamie is right.  There is a valid concern or baggage that causes someone to say no.  It is our job to dig deep and find what the issue.  It is natural for people to be resistant to change.  A lean transformation is a change.  We should be aware of their concerns and try to help them through it.

The last strategy mentioned was “Call in reinforcements.”

This can be a difficult thing to do.  This does mean being able to have the humility to know when you need help getting the buy-in.  This does not take away from you as an individual.  In fact, it shows more character, strength and security.  I have called in consultants to help reach executives or peers to reach people because there was a better relationship there.  To get buy-in at an executive level, I had to get a director to agree to meet with a consultant.  Then work with that consultant for a year before starting to talk about getting the consultant to work with executives.  It took over two years to get there but it is happening.  It takes patience and others to help sometimes.

I’m sure there are other strategies to gaining buy-in, but these really rang true to me as I read them.  What are your thoughts?

Posted on March 12, 2012, in Culture, Engagment, Leadership and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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