Part 3 | The Connector
In addition to the steadfast guidance of your Visionary, your team needs a lead to be the hub through which information flows. They will be responsible for understanding the mission laid out by the Visionary and communicating the independent requirements of the various departments involved in the project. Without a dedicated team member receiving and translating those requirements, your project runs the risk of late additions that create conflicts with established functionality.
This week we discuss the Connector.
What is often missing from a production system implementation project is the key individual responsible for connecting the different areas of the organization. They need to be a great listener and have both the understanding of and access to the various areas of the business. Your plant is made up of intelligent, experienced and hard-working men and women. The best Connectors have the confidence to approach any member of the team regardless of rank and the humility to ask questions when they are unclear on a response to a difficult question.
Most importantly, they need to be comfortable translating those responses into more general requirements. This keeps projects from going off the rails based on a misreporting of priorities department-to-department.
If this position isn’t identified and assigned to a single team member, the responsibilities are most likely to fall to the internal project manager or champion. This is rarely the ideal fit and can lead to scope creep and general misunderstanding of departmental requirements.
Read last week's blog to learn how to identify your team's Visionary
By selecting the right person to act as the thread that ties together the different departments making up your business, you create ownership of the communication process. In conjunction with your Visionary, Implementor, Calibrator and Definer, your project team will maintain the support and attention of the entire plant.
Approaching higher ranking team members can be intimidating for some, but not your Connector. The ideal pick for this role is fearless and understands they may need to force their way onto the calendar of busy department heads. However, sycophants need not apply. Aversion to bad news and yes-men are more likely to garble communications to avoid conflict leading to short term peace and long-term frustrations.
This team member may be seen as eager and ambitious in their day-to-day, but their focus needs to be on the work at hand. Reliability and integrity must be at their core or the confidence that makes them a fit for the role will cause more problems than solutions.
Knowing what you do know, and more importantly, what you don't know, isn’t a trait possessed by everyone. In a situation where you are dealing with complex processes and terminology outside of your everyday position, the ability to ask questions becomes essential to networking ideas.
Acronyms, metrics and legal jargon can’t be ignored so having the humility to ask for more simplistic breakdowns allows commonalities to be mapped out between the various departmental requirements.
Understanding the core needs of various departments, the overarching mission of the Visionary and resolving the various conflicts that will inevitably threaten to derail your project requires creativity, organization and people management. Lost in the ability to translate requirements is the art of combing requests into singular functionalities. Your Connector needs to master this skillset to be effective on your project team.
This team member has likely recommended innovative solutions to everyday problems in the past. Whether it was streamlining workflow or reorganizing the tool crib to be leaner; they enjoy searching for a solution in the chaos.
Lastly, your Connector must be comfortable navigating the political landscape of your company. Confidence to speak to higher-ranking team members is important but knowing how to speak to them is equally essential. Building relationships, not stepping on the wrong toes and knowing the path to the right answers isn’t always through the same questions makes for the most successful Connectors.
This team member may have worked their way up the corporate ladder or simply gets along with everyone in the break room. The best person for this position likely doesn’t realize how politically savvy they actually are; however, beware of people-pleasers. They’ll be reluctant to push back when collecting feedback and lead to unintended scope creep down the road.
Check back next week to learn how to identify your team's Implementer
Your Next Steps
Check back next week to continue your education on assembling your next manufacturing system project team. For more on selecting the right production control system for your industry, connect with a CIMx Expert today to map out your requirements, organize your priorities and get to work on increasing productivity throughout production with Quantum.