I was involved not because of my marketing skills, but because I knew the business well via their operational processes (and how they were aligned with their business plan and goals).
The discussion with the agency seemed to make sense for the first fifteen minutes, until I realised that we were in fact talking about two different things. I thought we were at the start of the process and they had decided that we were at the back end of the process.
It was like reading a book only to find out that someone had ripped out a big chunk of pages from the middle of the book. It was like we had skipped to the end.
Naturally this conversation had to be reversed and we both had to start at the beginning again. Time was wasted through confusion and frustration.
This is very similar to many improvement projects that I see (prior to my involvement of course!).
The project is planned out and chunks are missing. The expectation of how the team will get to the end is often unclear and as a result the time required to complete the implementation is grossly underestimated.
And, if you are looking for one place to identify where steps are often missed out (so that you don’t do the same thing too) check out the hand holding for the implementation stage. This element is often neglected when it comes to developing implementation plans. The final step might say training, and if you’re lucky include might include a support step too, but the time planned here is often way too low.
When you are implementing a new change you need to make sure that you stay with it until it is properly up and running; don’t walk away too soon or you risk having no results at all to show for your efforts.
Think about helping a child to ride a bike. If you stop helping them (by continually running behind them, holding the seat as required) before they have successfully gained the experience and confidence to ride on their own then they will possibly only learn to ride if they have the tenacity to keep trying despite the falls. Most kids need their Dad or their Mum to help them until they are ready to do it for themselves and the same is true in our businesses (and most staff don’t have the tenacity / persistence to keep going themselves in my opinion).
You’ve got to stick with the improvement until it is working and you can’t skip to the end.
Sticking with an improvement until the true end point is a behaviour that is often missing in businesses. Failed process improvement after failed process improvement is the risk you run if you don’t do this.
Are you guilty of jumping to the end too quickly when it comes to your improvement projects?
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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