To keep the support of their sponsors, black belts and other specialists will do well to manage the agreements they have with sponsors.
The director of a lean management program recently approached me with a problem he was having with program sponsors prohibiting students from implementing their lean projects at work. According to the director, each student who enters the program has a sponsor who agrees on the focus and scope of the project the student will do while in the program. This agreement is worked out before the student enters the program and includes numerous “check off” points so the sponsor knows what is happening throughout. However, when it is time to actually implement the lean project, 20-30% of the sponsors refuse to proceed.
Initially the program director thought the sponsors might be resistant to change, but I told him I didn’t think that was the issue. Rather, I told him there was something else going on. And indeed there was. As students progress through the program, they see other things that could be done beyond the project they originally agreed to with the sponsor. However, rather than renegotiate the agreement, the students proceed with developing the larger project. It is these larger projects that sponsors refuse to implement.
The issue here is not resistance to change, but a failure to honor and manage the agreements among students, sponsors, and the program. More complete performance and closure conversations will reduce the percent of sponsors who refuse to implement projects.