Over the years I have seen many sponsors give great supporting speeches but I have also noted a few that failed miserably along the way. Lets learn from them. One in particular was the kick off of a new root cause analysis facilitators program in a facility with a history of " flavor of the month" programs and lack luster performance. The "leader" did not attend the workshop because he was "fully up to speed" but came in at the end to say how important this new initiative was to the facilities future. He opened his speech with how he had used "five whys and wishbone" to solve problems in the past and that it could be done with no additional resources so it was perfect for them. It went down hill from there. All I could think was "I guess you could use wishbones but how many turkeys would it take to get to the root causes." For those of you who have seen my root cause methodology you know we talk about five whys and fish bones as the simplest of tools that can be used to create a culture of root cause but certainty are not the tools of serious problem solvers like the reliability engineers this "sponsor" was speaking to. My point is if you want your initiative to have even half a chance of success then take some time to learn what they are about. Brush up on the details. Spend a few minutes with the instructor finding out what the key questions are that you need to ask to really lend you support to the program and drive results. Also take a few minutes to understand what the practitioners will need.
Many leader spend the time and show their support by attending the full class and learning with their team but if this is not an option then many instructors offer executive half day overviews of the course that can be provided prior to the start of the full workshop. In these session they cover all of the basic requirements, key concepts, question that need to be asked to drive results, and key expectations the leader should have.