Improvement project replication across the organisation ensures quick adoption of a best practice in a short period of time. Change management is a continuous process and key to maintaining momentum.
With projects underway, success will begin to emerge. To build confidence and speed up the adoption of Continuous Improvement, these successes should be communicated to the organization.
To ensure effective communication a leaf should be taken from the marketing practices book. Different people like to digest information in different formats. These include:
- Reading messages.
- Attending presentations.
- Walking through a mini expos or poster sessions at lunch.
- Receiving an audio and/or video communication.
As projects are concluded and the company reap their rewards, it is important to consider taking this learning’s to other areas within the organization that may have similar processes.
With projects logged into a centralized repository, all the project information should be readily available, whether to the department next door or a subsidiary on the other side of the world. This implies that the repository has a powerful search capability.
Once success stories have been identified, and a new area found for project replication, the Improvement Project Leaders is provided with a charter similar to the one that has been complete but modified to the new process. Leaders should guard that the process has been identified as requiring intervention. The danger is that resources may be committed to addressing a process with the promise of quick cycle time but may not have a significant impact on the outcome of the business. This tendency is particularly evident in organizations that incorrectly measure project cycle time and/or the number of projects completed as the primary measure. It is better to use the resources on processes that have been prioritized for improvement.
The Improvement Project Leaders learn as much as possible from the success story which allows for an accelerated cycle time of the project. Naturally, the Improvement Project Leaders cannot copy and paste the tools and techniques as subtle or even significant differences may exist that will need to be considered.
Ongoing Change Management
Although many models of the change management cycle exist, they can all be summarized into three phases. As organizations, or indeed even at the process level, adopt a new practice individuals tend to move through the following stages:
- Revitalized Performance
Each stage is associated with typical emotional reactions. Disorganization may see individuals resist change through withdrawal, display of anger, anxiety or denial. Leaders and anticipate these responses and know that they are natural. It may be that the leaders themselves experience these emotions. During this phase, leaders need to have patience and empathize with their constituency. They need to continue communicating around the benefits for all while building confidence that it is the right thing to do.
During the recovery stage of the change management phases, individuals are torn between their hearts and mind. They know that things could be done better, but they also feel the loss of what has come before. There is fear but also a willingness to move on. This is the trickiest part for leadership because if they do not successfully pull the critical mass through this stage, all can be for nought. During this stage, leaders need to provide guidance and set goals for actions to take place.
The final stage is the organization arriving at its new station. An air of anticipation exists as the new frame of reference become clearer. Individuals start becoming competent with the new way which sees others follow suit.
It is important to remember that individuals in an organization are at different stages of the change cycle at any given time. The early adopters will be through the entire cycle quick whilst the stragglers may never make it through. It is up to the leadership to set an appropriate pace and sometimes make a tough call with regard to those that are really struggling to adapt.
Leadership have committed an organization to a new better way of doing business, and it is leadership that needs to ensure that the initiative’s momentum is sustained. Committed resources need to be given the appropriate levels of support and knowledge transfer needs to be provided on an ongoing basis.
Successes should be celebrated and stories repeated throughout the organization. Teams should be rewarded and project leaders visibly rewarded with increased responsibilities.
I trust you have found this mini-series of value and provided you with some insights into the world of Continuous Improvement and the factors that will make it for you.
Back to the introductory article of this series Implementing A Winning Continuous Improvement Program