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Can you hit a target you can't see?

I've had three conversations this week with different clients' teams about raising issues about their business processes.

In all three cases the teams had problems that they were dealing with, but very ineffectively. Namely their strategy was to grumble to each other about how bad things are. Does this sound familiar in your organisation?

The trouble with this all too common strategy is that the people that can help resolve the issue can't 'see' the problem and therefore can't 'hit' it for the other people.

A really good tool to help your teams engage with this discussion is the Concern, Cause, Countermeasure (also known as CCC or 3C) approach. (In fact, it is such a good tool that it is built into the StreamLiner CI software to accelerate continuous improvement planning. You can find out more about it here.)

The key to getting this approach work is to make the conversations easier for your team. Here are a few ideas:
  • Make it clear to your teams that you are not looking for answers, only concerns / issues that others can work on.
  • Help the team to state their issues in objective and non-confrontational language (e.g. communication between teams is inconsistent and not the other team is a waste of time! - you get the idea!).
  • Keep the issues visible within the team and find ways to share this list with the people that support the team in question.
  • Work actively on the issues list and keep the progress visible and communicated within the team.
  • Ensure that you share your wins with the team (help them to get hungry for success).
  • Periodically bring topics to the team, so that you can more easily focus your 'constructive whinging'.
I'm sure that you can think of more ways, add them to this list as you see fit.

With all three of the different discussions I had this week we were able to quickly solve the issues put forward and improve the performance of the teams. There was nothing difficult being resolved, just three identical cases of people not speaking to the right people about the right problems at the right time.

Good luck with hitting targets that you can now see!


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.