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How to Safely Launch Crucial Ideas That Successfully Fly

November 28, 2019

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Photo by William Hook on Unsplash

Last week we saw Graeme’s crucial idea bomb out.     It turned out that his idea – to have the business accredited with ISO 9001 – was indeed crucial.

Graeme didn’t follow a plan that would work and instead met staff resistance and lost key personnel.

His business, Acme Engineering, remained struggling.

Here’s what he could have done instead.

Graeme, realising he needed ISO 9001 accreditation, researched the requirements and gathered the evidence of why it was crucial – mainly because clients were demanding it.

Articulate the Compelling Reason

He wrote out the very compelling reasons why, from the point of view of his staff, it was crucial.

Their security and growth depended upon remaining competitive.  ISO 9001 was rapidly becoming a key factor in meeting client requirements.

Without ISO 9001, Acme Engineering would be at risk, and ultimately risk the job security of staff.

The Leaders Must Champion the Project

Graeme also recognised he had to be the primary visible champion of the idea and inspire his people to embrace the challenge.

He knew he had to help them shift their mindset from possible resistance to willing committed  participation, before the process started.

He needed the support of his key personnel, namely his COO, Frank, and CFO, Gail, as well as informal leaders and influencers from amongst the 280 staff.  He knew who those ten people were.


An Inclusive People Centred Approach

Graeme then went to each of those people and asked this question “How can we tweak what we are doing to help the business remain competitive and ensure everyone’s future?”.

The answers were predictable:

  • Make more sales
  • Streamline the systems and process
  • Come up with new products and services
  • Ensure we manage costs

He then asked, “Are you aware that more of our clients are asking for their suppliers to be ISO 9001 accredited?”

Apart from the some of the sales and technical support staff, most of the people didn’t realise that.

“What should we do about that?” they asked.

 “Let’s get together and discover the easiest and smartest way to do that.”  Graeme responded.

“I’ll send you the information pack so you can understand the requirements before we meet.”

They met over two half days and emerged with a framework and a timeline they all agreed with – twelve months.

They, both formal and informal leaders, were aligned regarding the need and the compelling reason why it was important for everyone to get behind the project.

They had clarity about their specific roles in the project.

They all agreed that they had to be coaches, not enforcers.   They needed patience and persistence.

Inspiring the Workforce

Graeme then ran a series of workplace meetings and spoke about the change in terms of the compelling reason why and the overview of how.

He emphasised that all staff would be supported and coached, that it would be clunky, and people will get uncomfortable, but the leadership is there to support and help.

Graeme answered all the predictable questions calmly and patiently.

He explained that it will be challenging.

Then he asked them: would they rather things stay as they are and risk losing business that could cause a downsizing, or will they work together to make the ISO 9001 a source of pride and security.

There was a distinct agreement to engage.

Only a few people couldn’t embrace the project because of existing disengagement.

They left of their own accord.

The audit that qualified them for accreditation occurred 14 months after commencement of the project, two months longer than expected.

They celebrated the accreditation.



A short time later they won a contract at a higher price because they had the best solution and were ISO 9001 accredited.

Would you like to ensure a successful improvement program?

Download my complimentary e-book that guides you how to achieve success with any improvement or change.

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