Monday, 7 October 2013

Manage change proactively

Once improvements have been identified you need to manage the activities required in order to realise the benefits, otherwise the project will have been in vain. I see many businesses that talk a good talk, but don’t deliver what they could. True, the day to day busyness of work can get in the way, but that’s not a great reason is it?

Managing change is just the same as managing any other project with two subtle differences. The first is that you need to help your team overcome their fear of failure. The second is to help them get started with taking action.

Overcoming the fear of failure can be facilitated by being interested in finding out what the results are from their ‘experiments’. The results they achieve are just that – results. They are indicators and are only outcomes if you decide that they are. Improvements rarely go right, that’s why PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) is at the heart of Continuous Improvement.

Getting started with action goes back to the previous section on taking tiny steps, and may also require that you put your arm around your team members and walk them through the improvement. Over time you will need to stop walking them through the projects, your focus is to build up their confidence to do it on their own.

The other elements of managing the change include knowing who is going to do what and when. Once you have this you need to look at the plans on a regular basis to see if the right degree of progress is taking place. Yes, building these checks into your routines is an effective decision to make.

Recommended Actions

  • Break down your improvement ideas into proper projects. List all of the necessary steps and include who needs to do what. Apply deadlines and if possible estimate the amount of resources that are required to complete each element of the plan.
  • Remember that your team are most likely to be going on a journey. Just because you think the plan will be easy to execute doesn’t mean that your team do. Guide and mentor them through the process of testing their ideas.
  • Review your plans regularly to check on progress. Build the checks into your routines if possible.
  • If an improvement doesn’t meet the mark first time try again. PDCA is all about evaluating the impact and then developing a better approach. Keep going until you get your result.
  • Determine an appropriate way to close out the improvement. This could be Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), a memo, a team briefing, or whatever would be appropriate to your business.

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

C'mon! Just write the SOP!