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The Advocacy of People Design Published: Sunday, July 29, 2001 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

The definition for the people design ventures is very simple: Give people related to or affected by change the continual opportunity to take part in the problem prevention or solution. However, accomplishing this end within organizational contexts can be quite difficult.

First, you must identify the identity of the affected individuals. At first glance, it may seem that you and your problem may appear to involve no one else, but that is probably not true. Organizing your desk? What about your administrative assistants and your colleagues? Preparing a business proposal? What about your customers, suppliers, consultants and even the competition? Writing a speech you are to present at a meeting? What about your teammates, the prospective listeners, and support personnel?

Not everyone who stands to be affected will be interested in getting involved, but if you are expecting them to change, or to adopt something new, their involvement in the venture should be considered. We have work with children who have developed many unusual and excellent contributions (poems, skits, debates, panel discussions, exhibits) when they are asked to develop their own study plans for reading a set of books.

Categorizing by role is another way of considering the range and scope of people to be included. Workers, managers, technicians, maintenance specialists, designers and customers may all be directly involved in the problem area. All of these are nominal titles, because each person has other roles as well. Factory employees, for example, may also be spouses and parents, service club members, and church or community leaders. The knowledge these individuals have gained in their other roles can be useful in solving your seemly unrelated problems. But by the same logic, to assume that experts or technicians will deal with an organizational project only on its objective merits without considering their other roles is foolish.

Even if all affected people cannot be involved due to logistics or sheer numbers, identifying who they are gives you the opportunity to do something constructive about them through subgroups, newsletters, videos, talks, conference calls, electronic mail, and so on. The action rule, here, is also very simple. Treat the planning of how you will approach a problem as a problem in itself…

Although not everyone will or can participate at every step of the project, the key is to provide a never-ending occasion for response and contribution. This is more than the conventional expression within organizations to “communicate with your employees”, as important as that is to helping the organization. It is a more profound invitation as to have employees take some part in the desired results. It means presenting the project as a desirable challenge.

Many studies show that some form of organizational autonomy and entrepreneurship is essential for achieving the quality and productivity organizations need.

Finally, keep in mind that a solution should specify only the minimum number of critical details and controls. Flexibility in the operation of installed solution should be given to the people working in the system, depending of course on the nature of the situation.


Copyright 2001 QBS, Inc.
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