This four-part series considers some tactics for making your improvement
initiative bulletproof in budget-slashing times.
Improvements become easily deferrable under cost control's myopic
focus. Our attention to the cost of our efforts can destroy any understanding
of their underlying value. Which improvement initiatives are most likely
to survive when the economy sours our expectations? The ones that the organization
believes are valuable.
Your organization might assess your improvement program as a cost burden
or a liberating value. Programs assessed as cost burdens become disembodied
line items, easily slashed, while those efforts seen as delivering real
value survive. What constitutes real value? If you're stuck on a
sinking cost-burden effort, how might you transform it into a valued contribution?
Help your organization determine obvious, overwhelming value for your
efforts. If your initiative cannot value-justify itself, help kill it.
When the budget slashers are around, you're better off focusing on easily
justified efforts rather than defending unjustifiable ones. If your funding
authority quakes at the following questions, he's just flunked a dedication
test. If he will engage in a conversation that could raise his value consciousness,
everyone's potentially better off.
What will it cost if you don't do this?
Gently deflect those cost-estimate requests, shifting the conversation
toward value. Deferring necessary improvement is never as free as the penny-wise
budget slashers might believe. Help them see their actions' pound-foolishness.
What is the initiative worth- what value will it add?
Rather than focus on what resources the initiative will consume, zero in
on what it will add. This quantity is much more easily and accurately determined
than any cost estimate. It is also juicy and alluring, while cost is most
often a dry, dead, encumbering figure.
Determining value isn't about creating a cost/benefit ratio. Value is
not simply negative cost. Your organization might express value as an ethereal
aspiration, a defining constraint, a conditioning regulator, or a focusing
target, as well as viewing it as a traditional long-term benefit over cost.
But be careful! Your organization will not necessarily most highly value
long-term benefit in difficult times. The key to helping your initiative
survive lies in positioning it to deliver what your organization really
values. Doing this requires that you know your organization in ways that
cost accountants never consider.
The Value of Anything
An organization might value its aspirations more than its targets,
its constraints over its regulations, and any of these more than the long-term
legacy effects from your efforts. If your initiatives are to survive these
times, your job includes understanding which values your organization holds
most highly and framing your initiative so that it easily satisfies that
value orientation. In this way, you can help your organization enjoy the
real value of your contribution rather than experience the burden of its
installment of this series will look at two very different ways in
which organizations value improvements and howto align your efforts with
David A. Schmaltz is the founder and a principled consultant with True
North pgs (project guidance strategies), Inc., a strategic consultancy
that helps people work well together. His book, The
Blind Men and the Elephant: Mastering Project Work, will be published
by Berrett-Koehler in March. His Web site is www.projectcommunity.com,
and his email address is email@example.com.
The following links will take you to the other pieces in this series:
Introduces the concept of aligning with perceived value as a key contributor
to improvement success.
Aligning with Aspiration and Constraint-valuing Organizations.
Aligning with Regulator and Target-valuing Organizations.
Aligning with Legacy-valuing organizations and summary of advice.