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Do You Put Enough Effort Into Changing How Your Business Works?

If you're reading this blog post it is a fair guess that you are looking to improve how your business works. So, what do you think about the question I have posed as the title of this article?

The reality is that if you could make a change happen with the same amount of effort that you current expend in your business changes would be happening left, right and centre. If you want to make a change stick in your business you need to increase your levels of effort temporarily. Without this increase in effort it is unlikely that the change you want will take place and sustain.

I recall when I worked as a Production Manager and the OTIF (On Time In Full) performance of our business was certainly not where it needed to be. For years the business had struggled to raise its level of performance; no additional effort had been expended. I planned out sixteen small improvement projects to address this and I got started with the changes. It was hard work at times and the work was on top of my normal day to day duties, but it paid off and we became a global leader in our industry because of this performance. The results didn't appear immediately of course; it can sometimes take time to witness the results flow through the business.

Similarly, I worked with a client to help them sort out their stock accuracy issues. We endured weeks of changing processes, embedding new working practices and cleansing the stock records before we saw the results. It was hard work for some of us for a short while, and then the results started to come through - better material supply, less frustration and higher customer service levels. It is important to note that this additional level of effort must be sustained for a period of time until the results appear and then must be sustained even longer until the right habits can be formed.

If you want to experience change you need to be prepared to ramp up your effort temporarily before you can enjoy the results.

As you can see in the diagram above you need to be prepared to go through a period of extra effort until you get the results you want to experience. And, if your improvement isn't going to plan then you may need to spend an even longer time with a higher level of effort until you figure out how to get your improvement to work. I once helped a business to develop a new capacity (loading) model for their business and it took a few iterations for the staff to fine tune the approach, their habits and to get their heads around the new approach. After a period of extra effort (and confusion) the chronic backlog problem that the client had dissolved. It was worth the effort and afterwards life was much easier for their staff.

If you are going through a period of change at the moment please bear in mind that you will need to raise, and sustain, your efforts for a prolonged period of time until you have a permanent change made in your business. Just like the engines on a plane, you'll need to experience a period of higher output before you can cruise. If you get your improvements right you should be able to work at a lower level of effort than you did before the change. How's that for a payoff? Better results and less effort, hasn't that got to make the higher levels of effort required worthwhile? 

Brace yourself for the period of higher effort and enjoy the results!

Giles


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.

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