Check Please!

Have you ever faced a situation where a manager or client was bound and determined to implement a strategy…but you knew their organization was not ready?

What do you do? Argue?

While some of us LOVE a good argument, there are times when that’s probably not a winning strategy. And it can have lasting effects on the business relationship, regardless of whether you win or lose the argument.

Let them implement and fail? Maybe. Some of the best lessons in business, or life, come from attempting something, failing, learning from that failure, and using the lessons learned to try again.  This works great with children and some businesses who have the luxury of time (and money) to experiment with options.  But what about situations where time is of essence, or the situation is critical? What about situations where the failure will impact the entire organization?

How do you convince them to logically evaluate their readiness and reach the correct conclusion? Well, try… making a checklist….

Ok, I can see your expression… Make a WHAT?

A checklist.

Think about it.

Generally, for any strategy to succeed, there are some pre-qualifying requirements, or building blocks. These building blocks form the foundation upon which this new strategy is built. Without this foundation, at worst the strategy falls apart or at best it is suboptimized.  While you may empirically know what these pre-qualifiers are, others will not see them as clearly as you do. This is especially true if they are simply focused on the goal or vision of a completed implementation.

Your job becomes simple:

  • Find the qualifiers.
  • Quantify them.
  • List them in a logical sequence.

Oh, and don’t forget to document the references for them, so that if questioned about the validity of the qualifier, a simple click of the mouse will display the reference for their review.  Locating qualifiers from known experts in the field should remove any debate that the information expressed is simply your opinion and subject to (continued) argument.

Once the checklist is created, ask the Team and Leadership to honestly complete it. Then, collectively review the composite “score” from the checklists. The results will be interesting, as will their perceptions of whether they truly are ready to fully implement the desired strategy.  In many cases, either they will not truly have known what the foundational requirements are to implementation or they will not have openly and honestly assessed their organization.

Out of this process should come the realization of just how solid the client’s foundation is and what areas need to be addressed to fill those now identified gaps. Assuming the desired strategy will help the client achieve its goals, developing a project plan to firm up their foundation should be the next step.

So does this strategy always succeed? Unfortunately, no.

We had a client whose Team Leader was adamant the full implementation of Kanban was the answer to transform their material flow. From our evaluation, while we agreed while Kanban would be a tool of choice at a later date, the organization was nowhere near ready to embark on a full implementation. To attempt now would not only increase the frustration of the team members but would also syphon resources from the work needed to be accomplished to build a good foundation. With all logical argument being ignored, I resorted to building a Kanban Readiness checklist. A search of the internet yielded several articles by well-known experts.  Within a couple hours, I had a list of prerequisites to the successful implementation of Kanban.

Did the checklist work?  Unfortunately, not in this instance. Do I still believe it is the right way to help organizations identify their readiness to implement a process? Absolutely.


In life, it's important to know when to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong


Need help assessing your organization’s readiness to implement Kanban or some other process?  Contact High Value Manufacturing Consulting…. We’re here to help!



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