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How to Quickly Sink A Crucial Idea Before It Flies

November 21, 2019

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Photo by August Politis on Unsplash

Graeme came back from his industry conference with the idea he believed was crucial for his company’s competitive sustainability.

They had to achieve ISO 9001:2015 certification as soon as possible.

Graeme’s company, let’s call it Acme Engineering, had 280 full time staff and had been operating for 20 years.

Acme was tendering for ever larger projects and to be competitive Graeme realised they needed to be ISO 9001 certified.

So, he downloaded the information pack from the ISO organisation and gave it to both Frank, the chief operating officer and Gail, the chief financial officer with the request to make it happen ASAP.

Graeme then set about re-focussing on his preferred role of being the company’s top contracts person.

Four weeks later Graeme asked Frank and Gail at their monthly management meeting how the ISO Project was going.

Gail said they were still getting their heads around it.

 Frank said they believed they’ll have something planned during the coming month, and before the next management meeting.

The next management meeting Graeme was interstate and missed the meeting.

A week before the following meeting Frank and Gail put out a joint email telling the next line of management to get ready for the process of becoming ISO 9001:2015 compliant and that it will take about 180 days to complete.

They attached the information kit that Graeme had given them.

No reasons were given.

Frank had to field calls, emails and visits from his direct reports:

  • what impact would it have on the business during implementation?
  • how would they find the time to do it?
  • did they realise that it meant virtually a ‘forensic’ reporting on every aspect, role, process and system in the business?
  • did they realise that there were aspects required that didn’t even exist in the business?
  • who’s leading this?
  • what planning has been done?
  • why are we doing it now?
  • why do we need to do it at all?

Gail had a similar reaction from her direct reports, especially her office manager who claimed to have been through one of these before - it was a disaster and not worth doing.

 At the management meeting, Graeme asked for a report on the ISO Project progress.  Frank and Gail reported that their direct reports had been informed and given the information necessary and over the next week they’d have a planning session with their direct reports to kick off the project.

At the next management Frank and Gail reported that they hadn’t had the chance to get their direct reports together and they’d need more time.

Graeme then became involved in an engineering project with a long-term client and for the next two months was fully focussed on that project.

When Graeme next checked in on the ISO Project, nothing had happened beyond a meeting with Frank and Gail and their direct reports at which the direct reports claimed they didn’t have the time or the resources to undertake the ISO Project at this time.

Graeme agreed that now was probably not a good time to do it, especially as they had a sudden influx of work from the engineering project that Graeme had been focussed on.

Three months later Acme lost a major tender they’d expected to win, to a competitor who was ISO 9001 certified.   Graeme was told by the client that the ISO 9001 was the crucial decider.

Graeme got angry with Frank and Gail.

Frank and Gail felt angry with Graeme but said nothing.

Within the next twelve months both Frank and Gail had left the business of their own accord.

Acme Engineering has downsized.

Graeme’s working harder than ever to make ends meet.

Sound familiar?

Next week, we’ll show what could have happened instead.

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