Recently I was mentoring a client in a national business performance role. One of his challenges was his need to convince a staff member in China, who is Chinese, to effect changes to the quality management system in a supplier’s manufacturing facility. While quality had been excellent for some years, over the past 6 months it had slipped as they had been trying new ways and new materials.
Unfortunately the staff member was siding with the supplier, needing precise evidence of which operator was to blame before he would take any action. It was almost like Stockholm Syndrome as the staff member was embedded with the supplier and had come to see their point of view over the view of the customer.
Practicing what I preach we worked with my Pathfinder Model and stood in the staff member’s shoes to identify his likes and dislikes as well as his specific challenges. We then went in search of a story we could use to help him to see the situation from my client’s perspective. We had identified he liked table tennis so we Googled famous Chinese table tennis players. We found Ma Long. It turns out that Ma Long was very good but he had not mastered his backhand. Over his career he experimented and did master the backhand and is now the current Olympic and World Champion.
We drew up several diagrams using a table tennis table as a prop and discussed that when a customer rejected product it was the same as if they were batting an unplayable ball back over the net in table tennis. We expanded on the theme and landed with a comparison of Ma Long’s career where experimentation led to great success and then asked a simple question. How are we going to help the supplier become as successful as Ma Long? That is, how are we going to help them move from the experimentation stage to high performance stage?
The Pathfinder Model helps you to find the key to overcome a sticky situation. One that might otherwise be a brutal conversation that ends poorly for everyone.
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Bryan Whitefield works with strategic leaders across all sectors to help organisations harness uncertainty – uncertainty is the strategic leader’s best friend. He is the author of DECIDE: How to Manage the Risk in Your Decision Making and Winning Conversations: How to turn red tape into blue ribbon. He is the designer of the Risk Culture: Build Your Tribe of Advocates Program for support functions and the Winning Conversations: How to Engage Program for internal advisors. Both can be booked individually or in-house. For more information about Bryan, please click here.