Flexibly Achieving the Answers to WIIFM?

Thinking Strategically, in this month’s post, Paul Borawski, CEO of ASQ, asks his merry band of Bloggers, in the ASQ Influential Voices Social Media campaign to Raise the Global Voice of Quality, two questions:

  • What is the most important challenge the quality community faces in ensuring that the value of quality is fully realized for the benefit of society?
  • And, what question does the quality community most need answered in order to advance the state of quality practice in the world?

My Short answers:

1- Know your Stakeholders and Competitors and play flexible.

2- Link the ROI to WIIFT. Same diff.

My Long answers:

What is the most important challenge the quality community faces in ensuring that the value of quality is fully realized for the benefit of society?

Know your Stakeholders.

And meet their needs, flexibly.

And approaching improvement opportunities with other groups requires a flexible approach too, for every party, and every individual, comes into the effort with certain expectations, in either processes or products, or both.

Adapting what cannot be adopted.

If your approaches, offered and explained by you, are not fully or partially embraced, as a set of methods and tools in the collaboration tool-set by the other improvement groups, you need to flex. Bend. Blend.

The NIH not invented here syndrome is well known and has been experienced by almost anyone who ever attempted to affect organizational change. And it may be justified.

But that’s a focus on the means, and not on the ends. Which is where the focus should be, and too often is not.

On the ends first, and the means second.

The ends dictate the means, right? Sometimes?

Or else, how are the ends met? If the means aren’t all targeted on some ends… then… then….

Boss Society 

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Society united will prevail, divided will fail.

Achieving Social Good requires Social Demand for that Social Good.

In order to decide what to be flexible for, one sometimes needs to know whose needs trump other’s needs, when they conflict.

Not everyone can have all of their needs met all of the time. There will be conflicts in needs – and wants.

How can one sort through all of those conflicts? And determine whose needs prevail?

What tool or technique might be used?

Stakeholder Hierachy Example 1

This graphic above is an adaptation of the graphic I created for my 1995 article in AQP’s journal, on “Balancing Conflicting Stakeholder Requirements” – The Customer Is King – Not. Check out The Journal for Quality and Participation  (March 1995) – available today from ASQ – here.

The original manuscript submitted is also available on my web site – here:

The Customer Is King – Not! – 15 page PDF – the original version of the article published in the Journal for Quality and Participation in March 1995 – address Balancing Conflicting Stakeholder Requirements, and suggests that the Customer is Not the King of Stakeholders (despite the unfortunate slogans from the Quality movement despite Deming’s admonitions about slogans).

Adapt what you cannot adopt. In meeting the right needs. And wants.


Want too. Because meeting the wants, beyond needs, strategically might be what puts one proposal over another. Know your stakeholders. And competitors. The Customers’ options.

In order to better respond and differentiate.

And, What Question Does the Quality Community Most Need Answered In Order to Advance the State of Quality Practice in the World?

What’s the ROI, Return on Investment?

And for the answer to that, be a widely shared understanding, across all of the Stakeholders.

Or, in other words, WIIFT – What’s In It For Them – and it’s kin, WIIFM – What’s In It For Me.

Same diff.

ROI and WIIFT/M that is.

In a Change for the Better scenario. WIIFM?

Why they, or any individual, should wanna, as Bob Mager so aptly put decades , and decades ago, change, is the key question to be answered in promoting, selling, rationalizing change, and requires using the “value yardstick” of the group being addressed in proving ROI.

Their quality yardstick is the only one that counts.

Your key metric, ratio or otherwise, better be clearly aligned to theirs.

Your win should be their win. And not left to allow someone to even imagine a win-lose possibility. Everyone needs to see how this is a win-win and that one of those win’s is theirs.

Or, why would they bother?

Change, that is.

And if they – enough in Society – are not all of “one mind” and/or of “one set of needs, and wants” – then it gets even more complicated and difficult to sell the change.

But it can be done – and it will require doing one’s homework. To gain understanding.

Understanding of what are the needs and wants of all of the Stakeholders.

And then what will it take to put in all of the processes and infrastructure to support the Business Architecture in delivering on those needs and wants that have real promise to create a sufficient ROI, or meet the needs of those Stakeholders of Society with a different WIIFT/WIIFM perspective.

Or something akin to that.

Something akin to what my former business partners and I wrote about in out 1994 book, The Quality Roadmap.

1994 QRM Book Cover

This 1994 book is out of print, but is sometimes available used on Amazon.com – here.

We at SWI – Svenson & Wallace Inc – saw our service offerings within the context of our view of a Business Architecture. This next graphic is from a 1994 SWI brochure.

business-architecture-c1994-swi-brochure-2-center-pages (1)

A 2010 Blog Post of mine goes into some detail on this graphic – here.

We, at SWI, had been using the term Architecture in our presentations,, publications, discussions with clients, and in our service offerings, beginning with our “Curriculum Architecture” Design offerings, starting back in November 1982 when I joined Ray Svenson’s consulting firm.

And Business Architecture was appropriate to reflect the connection to the evolution of other tools and techniques, such as MRP, MRP II, and then ERP. That was way back then. And now, in today’s world, it’s BPM.

But the need to get organized has been with us all for a long time. Architecture, configuration, etc., are big picture viewpoints necessary to enable us to collectively take, and share, a systems view.

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2 comments on “Flexibly Achieving the Answers to WIIFM?

  1. Pingback: June Roundup: Tackling the Big Quality Questions - A View From the Q

  2. Pingback: Barriers to progress. What gets in the way?

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