Why People Fail at Organizational Improvement

Posted by on Oct 17, 2012 in Continuous Improvement, Lean Six Sigma, Problem Solving, Process Improvement | 0 comments

In their 1997 book, Process Redesign, The Implementation Guide for Managers, Arthur Tenner and Irving DeToro give three reasons people fail at organizational improvement.  The first cause is the absence of a supportive culture.  Responses include statements such as “We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work!”, or “Our processes are different.”  Generally, anytime someone wants to make a change there is resistance.  Managers lack the commitment to make the necessary changes primarily because no one wants to rock the boat.

The second reason cited is poor planning.  Change takes effort and resources and must never be undertaken without adequate preparation, planning, and senior management involvement.  First, the organization needs to understand the current situation.  Are core processes adequately documented?  Is everyone trained in the current method?  Are they following the method?  Is the method adequate?  Have key performance indicators been established and are they being monitored and communicated.

The third cause is a lack of skills or competence in systematic improvement.  This should not be an excuse since there are many ways an organization can obtain the necessary skills.  Organizations such as American Society for Quality, ASQ, have many courses companies can send their employees to that will teach them the basics of continuous improvement.  The key is to keep it simple and don’t overcomplicate things.  Start by understanding the current situation.  Determine what needs improved and where you want to be in the next 3 to 6 months.  Put a team together, get them trained, then get out of there way and let them make the necessary changes.

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