Many of us have to work with others when it comes to continuous improvements. We know what we want in our heads, but in many cases the results just don't match what we're thinking. Asking for what you want can feel like an art at times, but if you get it right it can really accelerate how much change you can make in a period of time.
What do you want?
A good starting point is to articulate what you want to be able to see / do / hear / use at the end of the improvement. Spell it out; if you want a report that's three pages long (or thereabouts) then give them a clue. If you want a fully implemented maintenance routine, that can be administered by the operators, then tell them. Don't leave your staff to guess what you want, or to have to play 'dot to dot' and fill in the gaps.
When do you want it?
Next. tell them when you want it for. Defining a time frame for completion of the work will help them to manage their time, and you to get what you want. Everyone is busy, so at worst this item becomes a negotiation point. Being clear on what you are going to get (and when) provides you with peace of mind that you know what is going on.
How do you want the updates?
Finally, what feedback do you want during the course of the improvement project? If the project is short perhaps you don't want anything more than the final result. If the work spans a number of months then perhaps you would benefit from having a weekly note sent to you by email with the highlights of the previous week. Again, you need to decide what you want and how you want it.
By taking a little more time at the outset when delegating a continuous improvement project you can save a whole load of pain, time and effort at the end. Instead of fixing whatever it is that you receive, you will be able to just run with the results.
Download your template
Remember, if you have a Making It Happen membership, you can download a 'Project Initiation Document' from the members section - Continuous Improvement PID.
About the author
Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes.
Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.