Skip to main content

Do you need to change your approach?

Improvement projects rarely run according to plan. You make a change to your business processes and then find out that your initial assumptions were wrong. You gain new insights and these can be re-invested into your revised attempt. The key is to know when to change tack and when to hold.

When the results just aren’t appearing you need to ask yourself if the people who are involved with the change really understand what is happening. This is not a condescending point, this is reality. Communication within a change project often leaves people wanting. The instructions that get handed down are usually lacking and this can lead to a less than satisfactory attempt.

The method that is being used may not be as efficient, or effective, as you may have hoped. If the initial expectation is that there is a lot of work to be undertaken then try stopping the work after a few hours have passed. Can it be done differently? Can a different approach yield results much faster? A little bit of doing and a little bit of thinking can make a big difference to the rate of change experienced. Just ploughing ahead with a less effective strategy does not make sense.

Sometimes the idea just doesn’t seem to work. It might be the idea itself. It might be the people involved with the change. It might be the culture you work in. It might be a number of factors at play. The ability to isolate the handful of factors that encourage success may be outside your control. It is at this point that you may need to consider a course of change that suits the characteristics of your business better.

Knowing when to stick with a change programme and when to tweak it is a skill. It is a skill that can be developed over time and I hope the above helps.

Recommended Actions


  • Review your change projects for their rate of implementation, look for those lagging behind.
  • Decide which projects aren’t a good fit for your business and consider reconfiguring or replacing them.
  • Review the methods being used to implement the changes and question their effectiveness.
  • Ensure that communication of the ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘who’, ‘where’, and ‘how’ is clear and consistent throughout the change process.



Giles Johnston
Author of 'Business Process Re-Engineering', a practical plan to improve business performance.

Popular posts from this blog

Kaizen projects: being honest about being off track

Projects, especially improvement projects, have a tendency to get off track. There is often a clear distinction between projects for customers and projects for ourselves. If our improvement projects fall behind then our customers won't be barking at us; it is no wonder that if something is going to slip it is our Kaizen endeavours. For some people this can be a tough conversation to have. No one wants to be a 'failure' and pride often gets in the way. In my experience it seems that it is believed to be far more credible to ignore the requirement to improve than to admit that we aren't making progress. So, if you find yourself (and your business) in this situation, what can you do about it? Let me share with you two options to increase the visibility in your business around progress with projects and four options to help get your projects back on track. Increasing visibility Ok, no more hiding the status of Kaizen activities . This also means no more being precious about

The Kaizen Checklist is here!

Do you want to get better results from your Kaizen programme? Improve your business results quickly with my downloadable kit (including guidebook, workbook and templates) for only $39. Are you looking for a sustainable way to identify and implement improvements across your business? Practical improvement strategies The Kaizen Checklist is a downloadable kit that you can use with your management team to develop a system that suits your business and allow you to quickly implement Kaizen effectively at your place of work. This works great if you use it as the centre piece of your own internal workshop. The kit includes a 40 page guidebook, a workbook, four appendices and three templates. All parts of this kit are designed to get you up and running as fast as possible. If you are unfamiliar with Kaizen, let me stress that this is a simple improvement philosophy that is so much more than just  ‘a Japanese word for continuous improvement’. I’ll cover what it rea

Kamishibai Boards

Available to purchase here. Some tools are incredibly simple to use, and also deliver some amazing results. Kamishibai boards are a great example and are superb when you want some visual control over routine tasks. By the way Kamishibai is pronounced "come-e-she-bye" in case you were wondering! As simple as you could want it, a Kamishibai board is a T-card system that has red cards glued to green cards (so that each T-card has a red side and a green side). The red cards are for the incomplete tasks, where as the green cards symbolise that the work has been done. See the photo below of a board in use. On the red side of the card you write the name of the task that needs to be completed, and if appropriate you can include details of how the task is to be completed. This is not expected to replace standard operating procedures, but can be a good opportunity for an aide memoire. The boards can be organised for daily, weekly and even monthly cycles. They are g