Yes, that’s what I said – you don’t need buy-in. We’ve been taught that for any change to stick that we must get buy-in from our people at the outset. We’re supposed to agree on the goal, agree on the problem, agree on the direction of the solution and agree that the solution will bring the benefits before we proceed with implementing a solution.
But as you know, it can be difficult to get all this agreement upfront. Because in the end, all this agreeing is just talk. We’re
looking at the logic and agreeing it makes sense. So the reality is that while your people say they agree or say that you have their buy-in, you may not.
It’s not that they are lying; it’s what they believe in the moment. The logic does make sense. But how can they really say they buy into a solution when they haven’t tried it and don’t fully understand what’s involved (no matter how much has been explained)?
At best they can say – it looks good on paper.
And testimonials from other companies (or other forms of “proof”) isn’t going to change that.
So I’ve been taking a different approach since early 2009.
I DON’T ask for or expect buy-in at the outset. What I do ask is …
Are you willing to give it a try?
Any answer other than yes is a no. (REALLY! – I’ve learned the hard way!)
If my prospect says yes, then I instruct them to ask their team the same question. Only those that answer a definitive YES become
Many of the Theory of Constraints solutions are counter intuitive. How can I expect anyone to fully “buy-in” upfront? I can’t.
But what I can expect is that they will try anything I ask them to do.
Now you may be asking – why would anyone agree to try whatever I ask of them? Well, it’s because they’ve realized that their current approach isn’t working and that they DO really want better results. If they are satisfied with their current approach or level of results at some level (even if it’s bad) they won’t agree.
This is the approach I use for operational and process improvements.
Now, as they begin to implement, I make sure that the first steps they take result in big improvements. And when they see the improvements from their actions – they start to actually buy-in to the solution. And when this happens they eagerly ask for the next steps.
That’s how we’ve been implementing our Velocity Scheduling System Coaching Program which is based on the Theory of Constraints Simplified Drum Buffer Rope. The promise of the program is reduced lead-time and improved due date performance with less chaos. But NOBODY 100% believes that it will work at the outset (they are hopeful).
But it does work, THEIR actions worked — and then they buy-in. (I’m smiling just thinking about it. I love doing this!)
Can you use this approach?
Dr Lisa Lang
I would like to know if you’ve received the comment I sent this weekend. I have spent some time on it and I would really appreciate reading your answer.
Would you be kind enough to investigate what happened?
Thanks in advance.
This is a nice approach. Everyone passionate about TOC has indeed been facing the resistance TOC’s counterintuitive solutions appeal, and buy-in doesn’t seem to be easy to use for overcoming this resistance. Your answer to these difficulties is quite straightforward: if you don’t trust me completely, if you’re not going to do exactly what I said, I don’t help you. At least then your prospects won’t resist in the action, and after the first results, you’ll get them all under the cause.
This approach makes perfect sense, even more in your situation: you’re certified TOC practitioner, you write about it, and are influent in the TOC community. But I’m not sure everyone can use it.
Let’s take my case as an example. I am a chemical engineer, graduated only a few months ago, working as a project manager in a small company in France designing and selling instruments for petroleum analysis in reservoir conditions. The higher the barrel price, the more these instruments appear affordable to the clients; hence this company is in a pretty good financial situation. From another point of view, the amount of orders per year is always growing, and the company nearly doubled its staff in 4 years. This changed the way of working: from a rather artisanal, make-to-order activity, it had to start producing its instruments in series. But the structure has been kept them same: you can see WIP everywhere, lead-time swelled, and UDEs are starting to spawn on a regular basis. But hey, there’s so much work waiting for us, and so much money. How can we be in danger?
I see this situation as either an opportunity to become a “500 kilograms gorilla” –if I recall Eli Goldratt’s expression correctly – or a risk of growing too fast while keeping the same paradigm, and not seeing the catch before it becomes much harder to fix. Now with my varied but little working experience, and my passion for a discipline pretty much ignored in France, I cannot tell my CEO and VPs to just trust me and be really willing to give it a try if I plan to suggest them a new approach, and yet, it would be such a pity not to find a way to convince them.
So my answer is no, I don’t think I can use this approach, even though would probably have said yes in your situation. But I would be more than interested and very grateful to read what you would do in my situation.
I found your comment in spam so that’s why I had not responded. I’m glad you followed up because I also found several others.
Now to answer your question … It is difficult to answer because I do not have all the information nor do I know the people involved. But in any case, the people you want to try something new have to be convinced that what they are doing now is not working. Until that happens — nothing will change.
So I suggest that getting them to realize that there IS a problem now is the first step. I typically do that with how a write. Here’s an example: https://www.scienceofbusiness.com/i-need-help-theory-of-constraints-mafia-marketing/
How can you guarantee that the first steps they take will result in big steps when there’s a learning curve and other initial factors that have to be worked out before the results can be seen? How do you respond when initial steps taken actually result in several steps back rather than improvements?
I found your comment in spam so that’s why I had not responded until now.
I can guarantee it because I have a specific target market and I’ve worked with so many companies in that market that I can make a quick assessment. During the call where I ask them if they are willing to try, I also make the assessment that the program will work for them and get them results.
If the FIRST step does NOT show results, I immediately try to figure out why. It’s usually tthe case that the step was not done correctly or agressively enough.
This blog encouraged me enormously. I met the same resistance always when i proposed working with new concepts. Using the technique of explaining first and then practicing it, is indeed proven to be very successful. It also helps to overcome the obvious contra-arguments as: it is a Hype or The Latest Idea.
I command you in sharing this with us.
By the way, ever thinking of visiting the Rhine-river again? 🙂
Thanks Renze — Yes, I do plan another trip to the Rhine in the future. I’ll let you know….
I am planning to perform a TOC based production operations research to complete the Massey University Executive MBA at my place of work, Cryovac which is a division of Sealed Air, in Rotorua, New Zealand.
CPI achieved through successful implementation of TOC, Completing projects in less time through application of CCPI, Improvement of internal communications and the scheduling in the extrusion plant, etc. These are key areas flashing on my mind and I will have to focus on one of them and carry out the research project that I will analyze and report in two months.
I would welcome any suggestions on this task that I’ll have to accomplish in line with my career goals in manufacturing.
Thank you all
I found your comment in spam so that’s why I had not responded until now.
I’m not a researcher but I suspect that you can show improvement at Cryovac with Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM). After that I suggest you get TOCICO certified in CCPM. You may also want to consider attending a TOCICO conference.
Very interesting, Lisa.
Which is the core need we intend to satisfy by looking for TOC buy-in?
I think the reason for trying to get buy-in upfront is to enhance the success and stickiness of the project. The core need could be to CYA because so many projects do fail.
Honesty and wisdom in your post. After peeling the layers of resistance you are still faced with unverbalized doubt until outstanding results are achieved. If you are a consultant or internal change agent in a fuzzier business like a school you may still be confronted with outright resistance even when outstanding results are achieved using the new methods. In either situation–producing tangible product or not–if you can’t demonstrate outstanding results early you are dead.
Thanks Lisa of very good and practical approach for an important topic! And yes I can use it, e.g. with TOC pull replenishment/distribution approach. I think your approach can save lots of wasted time and bring much better results when focusing more on where there is “hope”. Thanks again!