I am looking for ideas to initiate cultural change in a small manufacturing company. I want to create awareness about long term strategic planning, safety and doing things right first time. The catch is that I am not designated change manager, but I can influence changes indirectly with help of other managers who understand my motive. This is a privately owned company where owners and supervisors are more reluctant to change than the employees. For most change programs, the top management buy-in is a must but in my case the change is to be initiated and managed from the middle of the organization structure.
Please share your thoughts and experiences.
I've worked for the big corps and now I work for a small/medium privately owned company and I would agree with your assessment that you CAN change the culture from the middle. Many times I think we as quality professionals will mistake a lack of knowledge or understanding of quality systems by top management as a lack of management support. But I have yet to meet a top manager that did not want to see continual improvement, so as far as suggestions or ideas I think that is where you start:
1) Check -- as the managers you work with, "so what would your process look like if everything ran perfectly?" Then you can help them collect some data every time something wrong occurs. This can become a metric, (# of occurences/nonconformances per month, etc.) and a Pareto of the top issues each week/month.
2) Act -- use the data to help guide in writing corrective action(s) on the top issues.
3) Plan -- what work instructions or system changes could be developed/implemented to help prevent the issues from re-occuring.
4) Do -- self explanatory.
Then repeat the cycle of course. It's not hard. We make it harder than it needs to be. But if you can begin implementing this cycle with each of your department managers I believe you'll begin to change the culture.