I am borderline obsessed!
That’s right – obsessed with delivering the sort of transformation that creates clarity of purpose and the energy to pursue the future state vision of an organisation but nothing gives me quite the kick of helping create the environment and mindset for delivering change through continual improvement.
The reason for this is one of timescale and impact – there are always things that can be achieved in a short period of time which deliver real tangible change that can form the nucleus for some real thought to drive the argument for transformation. I will even be a bit bolder and call these ‘growth hacking’ opportunities that can become competitive differentiators that cover anything from business processes through client experience to compliance, data quality and so on.
There are many methods, techniques and terminologies used and there is a lot of similarity between them but they’re not all equal and you should always try and use something that suits your needs – as an example, Six Sigma and its Lean counterpart are very focused on driving down ‘errors’ in a very mathematical way whereas Kaizen is focused on having those performing a task define and implement changes that improve effectiveness.
The route you choose needs to be embraced by the organisation which means looking at best cultural fit. I firmly believe that quantitative methods such as Six Sigma absolutely have a part to play in areas such as manufacturing and data quality initiatives that are striving for near perfection (for those of a mathematical lilt Six Sigma is 3.4 defects per million opportunities in each process) but there is a natural tendency for this to degrade over time due to factors including fatigue, motivational loss and reverting to old ways of working. Similarly a dynamic (agile) approach may not work well in safety critical scenarios!
How to give your change the best chance of success
Engage with the organisation as a whole if possible; understand what works well (and what doesn’t) and be sure to map out their wants, needs and dependencies – if there is resistance to change it is important to understand why and fix it (a popular cause is fatigue from trying and failing previously)
Drive out and agree a prioritised list of things to focus on; metrics are king for this in the beginning as you can only build momentum from having tangible results – once that ball is rolling it becomes much easier to drive change that builds to a future outcome
Collaborate and be fully inclusive with staff; they are after all the ones that really know how the functions work, what the workarounds are and need to be taken on that journey – both top down and bottom up viewpoints need to come together
Have the right infrastructure and environment in place to support the exchange of ideas, proof of concept and feedback; you will probably need more physical space than you imagine unless you have great technology and a staff base that has grown up with electronic collaboration
This must be supported from the top in much the same way that business continuity is; make sure it is on the leadership team’s agenda, introduce KPIs and get people excited about contributing – in short, make it visible, make it exciting and make it count for something
So there it is… making small changes can be the catalyst for transforming an organisation of ANY size, you just have to take the first step. Be bold!