How to convert an unbeliever - Dinged for insufficient documentation by our registrar


John C

We have a complex, multifunctional process which was dinged for insufficient documentation by our registrar. Then the manager of that process left and it was dropped on another guy who sees it as a small fraction of his responsibilities and firmly believes that he is only going through the motions of developing the documentation to satisfy the registrar auditor. He knows about documentation; "the identification of responsibilities, tie down the process, basis of continuous improvement, objective evidence, etc, etc".
"Loada rubbish" he says. Most of them think it but he says it out. (maybe he believes, like most, that it is necessary in other areas, but not in his - presumably because he is the manager - he knows what's going on, it's too flexible to really tie down, etc, etc.)
I could push him under a truck. But wouldn't it be great to convert him? Like St Paul, he would be the scourge of the unbelievers if we could ever bring him over.
On the positive side; You can't argue with a person who pays lip service and does nothing. Maybe you can get to grips with someone who is willing to stand their ground and rubbish the whole process, but you'd need a good argument.
Any suggestions? miracles? bolts of lightening?
thanks and rgds, John C

[This message has been edited by John C (edited 01 June 1999).]
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Brenda Mundroff

I understand your frustrations! I have dealt with the 'unbelievers' and have had to try many approaches to 'convert' them. Different tactics I have used include:

WIIFM - Find the one area that they can't seem to get organized or nailed down. Describe how the documentation writing process can get this accomplished for them.
Zealot - Find one person within the manager's organization that can convert from within.
Attrition - How high is the attrition rate? The higher the rate the more important the documentation is.

Hope this helps!


Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member

I hope he's not a 6%er. No time tonight, but I will visit here again tomorrow with some thoughts.



barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
Ya gotta find the weak spot in his area and pick away at it. Without the details, its tough to offer a suggestion. For instance once when I 'lived' at a company many years ago, the VP (part owner) and Dir of Process Engineering was my lip service guy. new to the company, I was trying to put in a much needed lot traveler system and process procedures. He wanted no part of it and gave me zero support and lots of LS. So every time an issue came up (and there were many) I never missed an opportunity to shake my head say, ever so quietly, " gee I have no idea how to fix that....too bad we didn't have a traveler (or procedure as the case may be)or we would be golden (or whatever)" and quickly exit the further conversation. It was less that 2 weeks before he was begging me to put in a system. he has moved on to open 2 more businesses, and has had me in to set up the systems "before things get out of hand",,,,AND talk about support back then,,,he was all I short, bring it home for him, SHOW HIM how it will it make his life easier...and let him lead his idea if possible. I was good at that they tell me...thats the secret of my success I think (personnally and professionally. I was always one to get what I wanted/needed by letting the other guy take the kudos as his idea, what did i care as long as i got what i was my management style,,,and ya know what...everyone knew how it really came about.

barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
Another approach is to talkin flow charts, every opportunity in conversation...draw a flow diagram to illustrate...till he is thinking in flow diagrams...and then a procedure will quietly emerge. How is the OJT for that area?...maybe a detailed training plan with a simple flow chart would suit him better...add more value in his eyes.

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member

I was wondering about this manager's performance. Has he been effective or ineffective in getting results? Has he done this through leadership or fear tactics?

I think that I would need to determine a few things about this manager to determine if he could be saved. You may find that your efforts will not yield very good results otherwise. But make a convert.....I agree, would sell throughout the organization.



Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member

I like the way your thinking. Flow chart the process, let the candidate take the next step. Good stuff!



Don Winton

So every time an issue came up (and there were many) I never missed an opportunity…
I used a similar approach in the past. During meetings or discussions, when issues arose, I would ask questions such as 'What does the procedure say' or 'Can I see the records?' or something to that effect, varying with the particular issue. When they would indicate there were no procedures (or whatever), I would, through a series of leading questions, point out potential solutions. Normally (if I asked the right questions and could 'lead' them to a potential solution), it would appear that the manager himself would 'have' the idea, and as a result, they would feel as if they were actually a part of the process. They were developing the system themselves rather than having someone thrust the system upon them (a sure 'kiss of death'). I also like the idea of flow diagrams (teach them as if you taught them not).

Most believe that documentation is a "Loada rubbish" until its value is demonstrated through real world examples. Use every opportunity where adequate documentation could have better improved the system in their particular area. Whenever possible, lead them towards the improvement rather than pushing a solution upon them, as barb correctly points out.

Oh, one more thing. If you really want him to convert, remember this: Run, with patience.


Just the ramblings of an Old Wizard Warrior.

Check Out dWizard's Lair:
Though this situation is best categorized as "after the fact," I recall a phone conversation that I had with an ISO9001 certified company's representative.

Though we didn't ultimately take his approach, his advice to me as to the nature of "getting people on board" was as follows:

(He said) "...there is only one way to do this and expect success. You tell them that everybody is on board. If somebody decides that they are not going to be on board or is otherwise difficult during the road to certification, fire them. That is how we did it and we were successful on the first try. Needless to say, EVERYBODY has been on board since then."

I laughed, but he insisted that was his company's approach and he wouldn't change a thing.

Of course, this requires that your Top Management be on board and take this acheivement and maintenance very seriously, too.



My question is, what happens if your biggest unbeliever is the person in the highest position? I am experiencing this currently, and I have tried everything! The person putting the most pressure on me to get us certified is the reason we won't.
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