(Updated in 2020)
10-Point Plan: Train Self-Managing Teams with an Outstanding Bias Toward Quality
Show Me in the Contract Where It Assures the Work Will Be Good
Spend enough time in business you hear the saying, “Fast, Quick, and Good, Can’t have all three!” or some version of it. In my business it was Quality, Schedule, Budget, Pick Two!”
I watched and wondered for years what made this algorithm work. Observation proves that without constant surveillance it consistently comes out the same.
Schedule and Budget win out over Quality.
Quality is hard to define, protect, and keep. It’s high touch, high concept, by it’s very nature qualitative and subject to discussion. Schedule and budget are right there, out loud, down on paper easy for everyone to measure and see.
In a business endeavor, every member of a team knows exactly how late, how much over budget some effort might be, but few can agree how much it has slipped on quality.
If we’re talking about products, it’s hard enough judge the quality gap — that’s the job of the product team.
But suppose we’re talking about quality leadership, quality thinking, quality communication, quality relationships, or living out a quality social media strategy?
How Do You Keep the Noise of Time and Money from Killing Quality?
Quality leadership does the quality thinking that forms the quality decisions. It’s quality communication that builds long-term quality relationships. That kind of quality is at the foundation of any team endeavor that succeeds. It’s also the at the core of any quality social media strategy.
Whether we’re talking to employees, customers, or volunteers, it’s important that we telegraph with every nuance of our brand that quality will always be the signal above the noise of time and money. Because quality is about them.
How do we build an outstanding bias toward quality into the fabric of our organization and our teams? Use the same steps we used to build a brand-values baseline and if you can, invite help from that same core team.
- Start with the heroes and champions from the core team. Whenever change is the goal, look for the folks most predisposition to embrace the change and invite them first.
- Put the problem before the change makers — about 12 people in three teams. When they have gathered first challenge the teams to define quality as a definition of thinking, leadership, communication, relationships, and process. Have them come to one definition for their team.
- Ask that core group of change makers how to tackle the problem Ask them how to bring quality to be the highest signal above the noise on their team.
- Listen and record their answers. Think of it as a list of possibilities, not necessarily a brainstorm, but more like an offer of possible tactics to try in their natural habitat.
- Review the list and ask the group to sort it. Choose three categories. Possible categories might be leadership-based ideas, communication-based ideas and process-based ideas.
- Ask each team to discuss one of the three lists they’ve made. Suggest that they discuss how well the idea might work over time with their coworkers, how it might need to be changed, and whether it needs outside input. Allow teams to add or remove ideas. Explain that they’re looking for one or more ideas that have merit — enough power and value that the team believes they could persuade others to put the idea into action.
- Invite the teams back to the group to present the ideas that they believe have merit. Challenge the teams to persuade the rest of the room to take on their call to action.
- Allow the listening teams to give their response and to offer their opinion on how easily they might be able to persuade others to join in to the proposed quality challenge. Work together to help reword and rework any that have value, but need a more powerful argument.
- Decide on the most effective quality-enhancing changes that are most natural to the organization.
- Build a strategy on how to introduce them to the larger group. Will it be peer-to-peer training? Will it be a meeting? Will it be a proof of concept that the small group tries and then demonstrates success?
- Then, choose a way that everyone can measure the success of the attempt to change behavior to a more quality-based way of work. Set a date to meet again to report back, consider how things worked, and adjust the call to action or the process.
Research has proven we go where we look and we change what we measure. If we want our bias toward quality in thinking, leadership, communication, and relationships to grow, we have to look at, measure and talk about them in the same ways we do schedule and budget. If we want quality to be the signal above the noise, we have to invest our schedule and budget in making it so.
People look at what we do — not what we say — to know what we believe.
How do you prove to your employees, customers, and volunteers that quality is above the noise of time or money?
READ the Whole 10-Point Plan Series: On the Successful Series Page.
–ME “Liz” Strauss