I shared earlier that people hate the word standardize. The truth is that people like standards just fine—as long as they're theirs. Yet at some point in most change initiatives, some degree of standardization is necessary. It's how you achieve the new normal. Getting there requires alignment—not only as the initiative launches, but also as you plow through the sometimes messy business of implementation. Otherwise, your initiative can end up like the United States' conversion to the metric system: You support multiple solutions, with the confusion and inefficiency that inevitably result.
In Part II, Politics, I covered communication strategies for alignment at the launch of initiatives. Now I'm going to focus on tactical strategies for managing group dynamics. This is how you align and realign, and align and realign, your people over the course of an initiative.
I call my general approach to this the “Six-Pack Approach.” I came up with the phrase one day when someone took a shot at me in a meeting by asking, “James, what is it that you do?” I was a senior vice president at the time, and apparently doing too good a job of leading from behind. I was making it look easy! (It isn't.) Fortunately, I was thinking on my toes that day.
“I'm like that little plastic thing that holds a six-pack together,” I said. “People don't think it's worth much until they try to carry six cans without it.”
An organization is not a Super ...