When implementing any continuous improvement initiative, like Lean, Six Sigma or business process improvement you must be able to market change. In order for sustained change to occur, five things have to happen:
- Incentive—a clear, consistent reason why change is necessary
- Vision—what is being changed and what is required to make that change happen
- Action plan—identifying and presenting to all involved stakeholders when and how fast change will happen
- Skills—training and education to give employees the participate and be involved
- Resources—consistent allocation and application of resources
If any of these elements are missing in your change effort then the change will not take hold and your organization resistance will prevail. For example, if a clear incentive is missing, the change process will be very slow, because if there isn’t a compelling reason to change, people won’t have a sense of urgency to make it work. A lack of vision creates confusion. Your people will not want to participate if they don’t understand where you are going and how you want to get there. Without a plan of action there will be false starts which will continually set your organization back to square one. If you do not provide those involved with the necessary training and education to hone their skills then you will not reduce the fear factor that accompanies any organization change. Finally, without proper and consistent resources there will be endless frustration.
To market the transformation, it is necessary to develop and present incentives modeled to each customer in your organization. With executives, it is important to show how changing to a lean organization will not involve as many business risks as they may initially assume. To employees the term lean is invariably associated with job loss, which can create walls of resistance to the change. So, your marketing efforts should address these fears. Finally, the end customer relationship is built on trust so any change effort must assure them that it will enhance service levels and product quality.
“Change is exciting when done by us, threatening when it’s done to us.” Your marketing efforts should include a lot of education and training throughout your organization to engage your people in achieving the vision while giving them the skills they need to meet the change head on.
Marketing is typically defined as having what the customer wants when they want it. If you market your continuous improvement initiative correctly you will have a natural “pull” to the system instead of pushing it on your customers.
Want to learn more about how we help you manage change? Call us at 847-919-6127.
Willie Carter has nearly four decades of continuous improvement experience, which have enabled him be a good listener, teacher, coach and leader as he helps organizations do more with less and become more agile. In addition to his consulting practice, he is on the adjunct faculty at Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL.
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