There are many factors that affect the success of a process improvement program. But the most important success factors can be categorized as the 3 C’s:
Every process improvement guide cites demonstrated management commitment to process improvement as a key factor to success. Demonstration means as much active participation as possible. It is not enough to pay the bill and provide the necessary funding. Here are some useful questions:
How often does our sponsor ask questions about the details of progress?
How has our sponsor changed his/her behaviors to lead the improvement effort?
Can we comfortably provide feedback to our sponsor on their behaviors?
Communication is often undervalued during a process improvement effort. Issues beyond the announcement of new processes should focus on the need for improvement and the progress accomplished. Communication should be varied, relying on the internal web-site, paper flyers and posters, and social events (e.g. a pizza lunch funded by the process improvement program), and other opportunities to share information. A publicly-administered award system aids in communication. Remember that communication must be bi-directional listening to feedback on what is working and what is not (and why) is equally valuable to communicating what is and will be happening with regard to process improvement.
When the few provide guidance to the many, resistance to change increases. Every employee may not be an active participant in the process improvement effort. However, the feeling that they are adequately represented in decision-making counts toward participation. Some believe that collaboration slows things down. But like a good project, spending that extra time up front enables an easier and quicker adoption later. And by using communication effectively (see above), incorporating effective feedback facilitates collaboration without consuming as much time. Increasing collaborative efforts enables the seeding of process owners and experts throughout the organization, providing those local champions that bolster sponsorship commitment.
PEP’s coaching and mentoring in these (and other) areas help our clients make successful process improvement part of their organizational culture.