This is the 1st of 3 parts discussing People, Process, and Technology. Despite the traditional order, I’m going to approach these in the order of importance to truly implement effective change, the first of which is Process.
Just like the 1992 election where Bill Clinton so effectively used the phrase, “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” implementing effective change can be summed up in much the same way – It’s the Process, Stupid! With the plethora of tools, techniques, slogans, buzzwords, etc. being thrown in the face of organization leaders, it is easy to forget on what we should be focusing.
When we begin an improvement activity, the first thing to do is the focus on the process. The process is what defines the way things get done, and who does those things. So many times, we want to focus on who does the work, or how we can implement the latest and greatest technology to solve the problem, or improve the process. What’s frustrating to me is how quickly we forget the basics. You have to fix the process first.
For years I worked in an automotive assembly plant, and each year had to come up with efficiencies to reduce cost, either by eliminating or improving the current work, or integrating in new work without adding people. Basic line-balancing – or what I would call Industrial Engineering 101. And as any I.E. out there knows, the 1st step is to methodize the job; look for any improvements that could be made with the current work before adding on or taking away any existing work.
How many times have we been involved in technology installations that promised great improvement only to have them fall short of our expectations; expectations we probably were conservative about to start with? When this happens, the operations folks typically say the technology did not do what it was supposed to do, when in fact, the technology probably worked just as it was designed; it was the process that was never changed, so the results were the same. If you have a mess and you apply technology to it, all you have is an automated mess.
Ever been involved in an initiative that was going to change the culture of the organization? Ever seen it fail? Wonder why? One reason is lack of focus on the process. If you want to change the culture of an organization, you need to change the people’s behaviors. To change the behavior, you must change the way people do things – change the process.
Does this mean we ignore the people, absolutely not – we must involve them! More on this next time!
Let me know your thoughts!