Change is one of the most difficult management tasks to achieve.
People don’t like change and will resist it. However, the world is changing at a pretty rapid rate and it is difficult for a business to survive under these conditions. It is the manager’s or leader’s role to ensure that the organisation is resilient enough not to just survive change but actually thrive.
History has, shown that those organisms and organisations that have changed and adapted to a changing environment have normally initially survived and then thrived under reduced competition.
The best way to adapt to the changes in the environment is to make everyone aware of such changes and then create an environment that support and rewards Continuous Improvement.
Here then are 9 steps to developing an organisation that support Continuous Improvement:
- Develop a business plan and then ensure that everyone in the organisation knows and understands it. If your team know where they are aiming, they are more likely to be able to make decisions that align with that target.
- Identify the areas of your business that are most influenced by change and encourage an understand of the problems facing that part of your business. Explain the need to consider this as a business threat and create a sense of urgency in acting to address this threat.
- Identify a person to head up the Continuous Improvement Initiative. This person will lead the initiative, act as a focal point for questions and reinforce the commitment that senior management has to the initiative.
- Have this leader develop a communication plan so that everyone is exposed to the aims and the mechanisms for the Continuous Improvement Initiative.
- Implement policies and programmes that support continuous Improvement. These could be focused at individual areas of a current process (six sigma orientated approach) or focused at the entire value stream (lean process approach) for a business.
- Fund any training that is going to improve your team’s performance potential. Capability is found at the point where knowledge, skill and attitude combine, so create the opportunity for people to develop their knowledge and skills.
- Provide the facilities and opportunities for people to think and talk about how to improve. Improvement is not just about gaining knowledge and skills. It is essentially about acting, getting the team to develop a plan of change and then acting to apply it.
- Ensure that good ideas are recognised, implemented and the team rewarded, It is a truism that ‘What is measured is achieved’ so ensure you are measuring any improvement. Another truism is that ‘What is rewarded is sustained’, so make sure you reward what you want to sustain..
- Employ the KISS principle. Keep It Simple Stupid! Don’t try too many initiatives at once as you are dividing your effort. Don’t follow one change immediately with another as this can lead to change fatigue. Pick an area where change will provide significant benefit, implement a change and then allow it to become embedded before moving on to another initiative.
An excellent book to read on instigating change and continuous improvement is Leading Change by John Cotter.
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