Have you have tried process improvement in the past and found it didn’t yield the required benefits? Did it become too difficult to manage? Were senior stakeholders wanting ‘more’, ‘quicker’? With an increasingly challenging economic horizon, the need for process improvement and remaining competitive is as great as ever. So, if you want your improvement project to succeed, and who doesn’t, what can you do differently?
It’s easy to dive straight into the ‘improve’ phase and immediately hit unplanned challenges e.g. you discover that you are ‘fixing’ the wrong problem, or you’ve inadvertently focussed on the symptom and not the root cause. If you want your process improvement project to succeed – try this tip? Aim to get ‘control’ first.
Want your Process improvement project to succeed – Try this tip
‘How-To’ get control.
- Don’t jump straight to ‘improve’
- Set up a workshop with key stakeholders to get clarity on the ‘how’ to get control
- Address these questions – BEFORE you start the improvement project?
- Where are we now?
- Where do we need to be?
- How are we going to get there?
This simple strategy costs virtually nothing (other than time) and begins with a workshop that can be facilitated by yourself without the need of expensive consultants.
1. Don’t jump straight to ‘improve’
In an eagerness to improve productivity many leaders jump straight into the improve phase. This can create more problems, almost immediately. It’s like peeling away the layers of an onion and having to respond to what you find at each layer. Sometimes what you find is a pleasant surprise, most of the time it isn’t.
The impact is you come up against situations that require additional time and cost (isn’t that what you’re trying to save) to put right. It’s also resource intensive to mitigate against before allowing you to move on. The net effect is that the project becomes too difficult.
2. Facilitate a workshop with key stakeholders to get clarity
‘How-To’ (use this template to help you);
- Identify key stakeholders
- Arrange a date and time for the workshop
- Send out comms
- Ask the questions
- Get the answers (or start the process to get the answers) BEFORE making any changes
- Identify and agree immediate next steps
- Implement the identified actions – remember talk doesn’t cook rice (Chinese proverb)
3. Address these questions?
- Where are we now? As business leaders you need to know the answer to the following;
- How is the business doing?
- What are our customers saying?
- What is our quality performance – where is it good/poor?
- What is our delivery/service access performance – where is it good/poor?
- In financial terms, specifically what and where do we need to improve?
- What are our employees feeling – about today / tomorrow?
- Management by FACT (Data) NOT emotion – don’t allow the lack of data stall your efforts – plan to get it if you need it
- Where do we need to be?
- What levels of Performance must we achieve?
- How do we know this?
- Is there room for ‘stretch’?
- How are we going to get there? This is the single most important question and should be answered from an employee/leadership perspective.
- What is the PLAN – have we got one?
- What is my role in the bigger picture?
- How will I know if am succeeding (metrics)?
Note: It might be easier to address the above from a departmental perspective as opposed to the whole organisation. KISS…Keep it short and simple! Don’t fall into the trap of paralysis by over-analysis.
What you get for your efforts?
Essentially you get a clearer understanding of your current starting position. This will help you go into your change project ‘eyes wide open’. You’ll also have a clearer understanding of potential challenges for a successful transformation, where they are, who they are and what to do to mitigate risks.
Perhaps the key outcome is having an informed stakeholder group who will not throw any ‘surprises’ in your way. They’ll know what they’re letting themselves in for and will have greater clarity on immediate next steps and what they need to do to support the project, and indeed yourself, for a successful outcome.
If this post has resonated with you please do feel free to reach out to me for a quick conversation about how I might be able to help you with your process improvement project? Whether we decide to do business or not I’m sure you’ll gain meaningful insights from our conversation?
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About the author
Abdul Ghani is founder and director at Exceed Excellence. Abdul has twenty year’s experience of hands on Lean implementation, project and change management. He is an improvement coach and an inspirational leader with multi-sector continuous/quality improvement expertise.
Abdul’s key strengths are seeing through complexity, identifying and delivering improvement actions and to quickly establish rapport and trust with stakeholders. Abdul has project managed and delivered improvement programmes and mentored / coached staff, at all levels, through major transformation programmes. Click here to get in touch or here to make an appointment for a quick phone call.
About Exceed Excellence
Exceed Excellence works with organisations to improve operational excellence capability to deliver high quality, right cost and right time services / products for their customers. We achieve this using workshops, masterclasses and/or consultancy. Most importantly, we’ll work with you to improve the skills, productivity and capability of your most valuable resources – your people!