SHARED VALUES-PREREQUISITE TO CHANGE
Although values statements vary from company to company, there are threads of similarity found in most. These values include:
• mutual respect
• customer satisfaction
• continuous improvement.
Without basic shared values, individuals are left to rely on what they learned from their previous organizations, which typically consists of bad habits they picked up from poor management styles. Chief among these values is empowerment. How many times have you been told by a company representative, "I'm sorry, I don't have the authority to do that," or "If you'll hold, I'll see if I can get that approved." This clearly shows the company does not embrace the value of empowerment. It does not allow its employees the ability to make decisions for the customer, and there is an obvious lack of customer focus within the organization.
Empowerment is likely the most difficult of all values to implement. Why? Simple. You need look no further than another shared value—trust. Management simply does not trust individuals to make the best decisions, and thinks empowerment will result in indecision and the potential of giving away the store. Will it happen? Sure it will—unless we look at why it happens. The why is a general lack of training and education. If we prepare individuals by educating them in company strategy, structure, policies, procedures, and processes, we've equipped them to make the best decision. But the company must first invest in education and training, and equip people with the knowledge to make the best decision. Does this mean they will always make the right— or best decision? Obviously not, but can any individual
honestly say they've made the best decision 100 percent of the time? When decisions are made that do not conform to expectations, a communications feedback loop about alternative decisions (that could have been made to ensure customer satisfaction) must take place. In essence this completes the education feedback loop—allowing counseling sessions to discuss the thought process that went into the decision, and what additional considerations should be taken into account for future decisions.
This process not only requires the company to embrace trust and empowerment, but places additional importance on other values such as mutual respect and customer satisfaction. Every individual in the organization must embrace the value of mutual respect. This effectively means we're all here for a reason. We must respect every individual for the position they hold and the responsibilities that go along with that position. And in the absence of values stating the importance of service to the customer, there is no focus to ensure customer satisfaction. Look at it this way. If management puts no emphasis on customer satisfaction, such as a values statement with defining verbiage, individuals are left to their own resources to define just how far they can go to that end. And that typically means "I'm sorry, we can't do that."
CULTURAL CHANGES ARE PREREQUISITE
All the quality processes in the world won't change an organization that's not ready to change. And change is the most difficult aspect of any quality process. Change takes time, and that in itself is a barrier. Patience is a virtue! But "patience" and "management" are not synonymous. It takes the right attitude, and it takes the ability to manage change. And this will be the hallmark of success for senior management dealing with the issues of any quality improvement process. In discussing attitude, I think Katharine Hepburn said it best when she said, "If you want to change, you're the one who has got to change. It's as simple as that, isn't it?" Attitude will play the largest part of any quality improvement process introduced. Individuals must have the right attitude to make quality work. That
attitude will be driven by top management, and will be validated by actions—not speech. It will be validated by the implementation of shared values, and how those values are supported. Cultural change for an organization is painfully slow. It's like turning a train around. It takes lots of time, and lots of track. It's changing the way the organization works—how each individual works with each other individual, and how individuals act and react to change.
Both change management experts and quality gurus will agree—don't ever attempt to change the culture of the organization. But these same change management experts and quality gurus will also agree on one vital ingredient to success—you MUST change the culture of the organization. If this sounds like a catch-22, that's precisely what it is. And this is the primary reason change is so difficult. To effect cultural change, one must first understand the nature of change, and how to manage that change.
To Be Continued
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Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 13