Monthly Archives: February 2012

Organizational change

Organizational change

In many instances (actually most or all) this involves “culture change”. We have all heard the saying – “change is hard” and it can be if we do not introduce a strong enough reason as to why it needs to change.

Company culture (good or bad) is a result of many things. Some examples are below:

* The beliefs reinforced by the owner/ management staff

* The values, attitudes and beliefs of the individual employees/ team

* The experiences/ training/ beliefs/ of the employees and management

Culture usually develops over a period of time within a group or organization. In many instances the longer an organization has been in business or the longer an employee has been employed at a company the more difficult it is to permanently change the existing culture. It is not impossible, but can be difficult.

There a number of steps that should be taken when a culture change initiative is being undertaken. These are outlined below:

1) Determine why the current culture is the way that it is (behavior is caused and so is culture. There is some sort of “payoff” or else it would not be maintained.

2) Know exactly what the desired culture is. If you don’t know where you want to go, you will never get there.

3) Create a strong enough reason as to why change is needed. This could be the loss of critical business, competition, sales decline, pending closure or bankruptcy, etc… If there is a stong enough “why”, the how becomes simple.

4) build your team of “cheerleaders” that will aid in the change and will act as peer pressure to get the change implemented. Sometimes a small-scale (bell weather) project helps in gaining this support team.

5) Use teams/ team building. Anything that involves multiple departments is served well to use teams to help reduce resistance.

6) Management needs to reinforce and “walk the talk”

7) Provide the necessary training, education and competency to make the change. This includes the technical as well as the “soft skills”.

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Deming’s 1st point – Constancy of Purpose

Having always been a Deming follower, I wanted to put together a post on some of his points.  His 1st point is as follows:

“Create Constancy of Purpose For The Improvement of Product and Service”

I feel that Deming put this in the top spot on purpose. If there is not a “constancy of purpose” the remaining 13 points will not result in the expected benefit and improvement.

Your organization purpose should be stated in either your Vision statement/ mission statement/ quality policy/ etc… Many companies have these (probably most) but many that I have seen really have no meaning to drive the organization. They are empty statments that hang on a wall. Most will talk about satisfying the customer, continual improvment, supplying quality product, etc.. but when the measureable objectives are looked at there is a gap. The gap can either be in the goal itself or the performance of meeting the goals.

Many organizations are focused solely on the daily fights, the quarterly dividends, annual profit sharing checks, etc..  instead of the long term goal of staying in business, growing and improving. Many times the goals and objectives are exactly the opposite of what should be the long term focused objectives. For example I have heard that Honda has what it calls it’s 100 year plan. How is that for a forward looking business? Other simple things like your business contingency plans and capital expenditures can reveal where the focus is at (daily survival or long term viability).

Stephen Covey also stated it perfectly in his book “First Things First” when he stated that companies that are focused on the urgent are least focused on the important (my summary of his statement – not a quote).

In a nutshell a simple tool such as a tree diagram can be used to start at your organization’s long term objective and can then be branched downward to other goals within the divisions, plants, departments and personnel.

I feel that too many companies are too focused on the short term and not the long term. Deming wisely summed it up many years ago, yet many still do not heed the advice (either for lack of knowing, lack of understanding or just that the organization culture is focused in the wrong direction). It is sometimes difficult to “right the ship” but it can be done.

To improvement!

Mark