4.8. 8. Celebrate Success
If you are sincerely committed to nearly any path of action, you'll probably run into success sooner or later. A struggling actor will land an off-Broadway part. A young father will get a "Best Dad in the World" T-shirt. Same for your process program. As a matter of fact, compared to the actor, the chances for big success are probably much better for your process program. But big success will take time. In the meantime, and probably more important, small success will arrive quietly through small doors, at gradual intervals, reminders of measured progress.
Often these small successes are overlooked. In this field, people tend to want to peer out to the horizon, looking for the tip of the mast of the S.S. Major Accomplishment. But I like for people (and companies) to focus on incremental progress. The good thing about that view is, if you roll your program out properly and you and your management team are truly committed to it, there will be plenty of incremental progress to appreciate.
I once worked with Dan Payne, a senior IT Project Manager for Cingular Wireless. We worked to implement a CMMI program that Dan and his team had pretty much built from scratch, and we helped roll it out to various organizational groups. In any engagement like this, the word "smooth" is a relative term, but Dan kept the Big Goal in mind. He coached his people through the rough spots and supported them as they maneuvered through new activities. He was always, and actively, looking for signs of success, even the smallest of signs, and at each sign, he demonstrated his enthusiasm for the program and for the effort his team was making to implement the program.
Of course, this attitude became contagious. His different teams began to enjoy making the program work. The idea of failure had been quietly removed from the equation. They weren't afraid of any "invisible consequences" that might come from trying. Because the light was shed on success, they adopted the attitude of "let's try until we succeed." What a great attitude. It worked very well.
So, as your process program spreads out in your organization, train your eye to spot the small successes. There's a popular acronym that's been floating around for centuries: QED. It's from the Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum. It means, "There's the proof!" My friend, Alan Mann, a quality specialist working in the Washington D.C. area, named a quality program he helped design QED: Quality Execution and Delivery. After it was in broad use, whenever he would notice another of a series of small successes, Alan could feel justified in announcing, "QED!" In other words, "There's the proof, guys, that our process works."
To encourage sustained process improvement, look for success everywhere you can. Do it by walking around and observing. Do it by finding true pleasure in your people working toward goals they've set. Seek out feedback. People will be anxious to tell you what's working well, proud to announce what they have discovered to work well.
Celebrate these small successes. Let people know you are aware of the progress, that you appreciate it, that it means something to the company. You might consider small tokens of appreciation. Even silly things like awarding process progress cakes to a group or awarding success plaques to teams can be very positive reinforcements. As long as you yourself take these little gestures seriously, you can be pretty much assured that your teams will accept them gratefully.