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Change Management

PART IV. 

 

In between victories, the army must have a supply line of energy to continue to try to break down barriers to change. The most potent of these is communication in every form: newsletters, presentations, bulletin boards, personal visits and performance charts. These alone will not create the movement but they will help sustain momentum once it has begun to roll: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

But who will do this communicating? Your project team! These people have been selected because they possess the qualities of future leaders of the company. They are respected by their peers and are comfortable with ambiguity and the undefined nature of an evolving order. These are the people you are placing your bets on and they need to be the ones who will help smooth out the rough spots.

Celebrate every victory! It is easy for those directly involved to overlook progress against the major effort that is planned. Don't miss an opportunity to decorate heroes at all levels. The medals and ribbons of personal achievement are great individual motiva­tors. If possible, give permission for battlefield promotions or rewards during the most difficult parts of the battle.

Not all members of the team will be able to fight every battle. Good soldiers will stay behind to fortify new positions, some will be promoted out of the field of battle and some will just get fatigued. This is an opportunity to bring in fresh troops. Once some initial progress is achieved, performance boards and other visible measures help bring additional troops into the army through their own interest in the joining the fight. As more battle fronts are opened and more resources are committed it becomes possible to use the achievements of one team to inspire the others to renewed effort. Finally, never look back ...

No strategy will be successful without appropriate tactics and a plan of attack. The first thing that is needed is a good scouting report. An advanced team must understand the lay of the land and where the competition is headed. A study of the troops' strengths and weaknesses is needed to select outside resources to shore up the weak areas and select tactics that mobilize the strengths. Assessing the organization's readiness for change will influence the planned pace of march. Most importantly, the plan must use the strengths of the existing culture to advantage.

Teams need to be organized with cross-functional representation to model the future vision of multifunction worker teams. Each should have a mix of change leaders and knowledgeable soldiers. This way as the team builds consensus they will experience the change process themselves and be better prepared to help change the rest of the army. Boot camp in the form of intensive training in process engineering techniques, organizational change and visioning helps weld the team into a unit and prepare them for an unfamiliar battlefield.

Typically, pilot projects are used as skirmishes to test the new concepts and provide confidence that the techniques can lead to success in battle. Multiple pilots in different areas, like several patrols, are helpful to gain the greatest knowledge in the shortest period of time. Selection of areas that are challenging without an excessive number of complicating issues are key to testing the concepts at the boundary without risk of severe set-back. A focus on a few processes or a group of similar products will allow for synergy among the pilot areas. Be careful not to engage in battle on too many fronts at once. The fronts of strategy, organization, quality, productivity, empowerment, maintenance, technology, etc. must ultimately come together to drive on to victory. Fighting them all simultaneously, however, will spread the troops too thin and lead to confusion. Establish a beachhead, reinforce and solidify it through continued rollouts before opening a new front. Coordination and balanced progress across people, process and technology issues produces a healthy advance.

As in any battle, progress can only be measured by marking the current boundaries on the map and tracking the movements on the various fronts. It is crucial that key performance indicators are sampled at the start of this journey as a baseline to measure against. Accounting data are not a reliable indicator because they are based on a model of the existing, traditional processes. When the processes change for the better the accounting reports often signal a decline! Key performance indicators are also useful to measure nonfinancial areas such as throughput and leadtime.

Winning is about recognizing leaders at every level. Though every breakthrough that gains ground and every successful battle is a team effort, there is always one soldier who stood up first or moved forward aggressively. Congratulate the team, reward those first movers and then reset the target to institutionalize the achievement. Once your army is locked into the fray, keep the challenges coming!

One of the best ways to assure continual challenge is to involve your customer. It is true that no matter how much you give them they will never be satisfied; but that is just what is needed. That constant pressure to go one better and surpass prior performance in areas that the customers value is the essence of winning. So get your teams in touch with the customer, Find out what they want and Give it to them\


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