When talking about improvement or communication most managers talk a lot about communication. They wrestle with the issue of how to ensure that the stakeholders, especially the staff in an organisation, understand what is happening. The problem is that this approach is essential but it misses a vital point and that is that it is really control and not understanding that helps people cope with change the best.
If during an improvement programme, I explain to you what is happening then you know what to expect. If I create the opportunity for you to be involved then you have created part of the future which is far better.
The struggle with involvement is that it requires a leader to give up control ie they do not decide everything. However it does create the opportunity for more control in that more effort can be applied to the improvement and the solution will be better, provided the improvement proces is well facilitated.
A number of years ago I was part of an organisation leading a multi-agency improvement programme. We had a number of critical but independent stakeholders who were wary of the programme but were struggling to create a meaningful voice. We developed a strand of the programme which allowed each of them to undertake an impact assessment of the proposals on their own organisations. This helped in 2 ways, it provided very strong feedback on the proposals and it allowed them to real understand what would work for them and what needed to be reassessed. It also moved the discussion away from high level positioning statements to a constructive level of assessment and planning.
Creating involvement is not easy. It requires managers to be able to understand what really matters to stakeholders and to find ways of letting those stakeholders work on their concerns. It requires the bravery to give up control to gain control. So when you next have the opportunity to contribute to the drive for improvement, try and move the management discussion from one about communication to one about involvement.