Gaining support of the Sponsor
It is fair to say that ‘buy-in’ when it comes to Operational Excellence and Lean Six Sigma initiatives is a much thought about and ever contentious issue. The ultimate aim is always to ‘sell’ well but is this always easy when sat in front of a panel of executives, hanging on your every word? Or even worse – not listening at all?
Getting buy-in from those truly senior executives appears to be a tough challenge. Understanding the cultural fit and working environment of the people you are pitching to is tougher to gauge as they are there to give a ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ in response to what it is you are trying to sell them. Engaging at this senior level would mean you often do not have the luxury of questioning them in order to focus and aim your ‘sell’ at those individuals as an audience.
- Some programme managers claim the trick is to know your market thoroughly, identify what makes them tick and where possible offer Lean Six Sigma as the solution to their problem.
- Lean Six Sigma is one methodology under an umbrella of various other change agendas, so you are going to be responsible for the promotion of its philosophy over others. One way in which to address the issue of competing methodologies is to present your audience with case studies that are of a similar nature to the one you are pitching.
- Giving solid, unequivocal evidence of success stories within competing companies can often be a great way to get that added degree of engagement.
- Many highlight that ‘buy-in’ depends on a person being convinced that you can save / generate money. Once the idea of potential savings has been suggested and supported by evidence in a convincing light, this makes denying these initiatives considerably more challenging.
- Similarly others raise the issues around setting the agenda; with the need for a clearly structured and coherent agenda to be agreed upon. Time is crucial and if the boat is missed due to a lack of coherent structure, the initiative will have already failed.
- Risk assessment is another crucial aspect which must be considered when attempting to gain that ‘buy-in’. One must identify all areas of risk involved when mapping out a programme. All elements drive others so when one area is undergoing analysis one must ascertain the knock on consequences. This appears to become more complex when entirely different areas are interfacing with one another.
The consensus from those that have gained support lies with the power of relationships, this starts with something so simple as language; speak in terms familiar to your audience. The typical jargon one associates with Lean Six Sigma will not be understood by the average layman. Furthermore, the people will, in all likelihood, have no interest in learning about it – they just want to see results! Once you have got your foot in the door, it is vital to build/develop these relationships where possible. You will be given the opportunity to make it seem as if you have truly listened to their woes and are genuinely providing the best solution to their problems – not just trying to get them to buy your product!