Self discovery

Date of publication: June 15, 1993

Author: Simon L. Jones


This paper presents the case that a voyage of "self discovery" is the key to getting a new message, representing changed values, over to staff. Success comes only when staff truly understand the rationale behind the change and the benefits of it. Once they adopt for themselves the new values, and learn to act on them for themselves, the benefits will be enormous. However, the message cannot successfully be preached. Managers must embark on a course which will enable their staff to discover the key truths for themselves. This is hard work and requires considerable patience, but in time the effort will be amply rewarded. These conclusions are based on a case history covering the experiences within an Information Technology department within British Petroleum pic. It concerns the launch of a Total Quality Management initiative. One of the two key messages embraced by the initiative was quality (ie Customer Satisfaction based) measurement. The main period of the case study is October 1991 to April 1992. During this period, many problems were encountered, mistakes made and the whole approach had to be changed to allow the staff involved far more control over direction. Tangible benefits began to be realised some 04-May months after initial engagement of staff. The paper is divided into two parts. Part I gives a chronological case history. It details the key successes and failures and the critical turning points along the way. Part II discusses the main lessons learned. It articulates an idealised approach, based on the approach actually adopted in the case study, modified with the hindsight now possible. It references the specific experiences described in part I that support the proposed modifications.

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