Continual improvement has to be a major goal of any successful organisation. But it can be an elusive and highly challenging objective. Many organisations have internal change teams responsible for driving improvement, yet these individuals usually reside in project management or within the project program office. So their fundamental flaw is that they do not live and breathe the operation, and as such are disconnected from that which they seek to change.
Change brings opportunity.
Internal change departments frequently possess a wealth of theoretical expertise, but this is typically not balanced by practical experience. They are tasked with identifying opportunity, and they want to achieve big change, but in reality they make small, incremental changes that fail to deliver the required impact. This shortfall in performance may not be their own fault, but rather a consequence of the environment they inhabit. Faced with complex internal politics and a fear of making big decisions, serious change is stifled.
Career concerns outweigh the motivation to drive big improvements, because change is always accompanied by a degree of risk. Fear eats away at the change process, and the greater the change, the greater the fear when you are accountable for measurable delivery and implementation. So internal change teams often simply don’t have the appetite for fundamental step changes, which means they don’t deliver it.
Without the confidence to change, your organisation will never achieve a ‘quantum leap’ performance. But don’t just take our word for it – watch the below interview with Peter Thomas, MD of a leading Life and Pensions outsource provider to get his perspective on why internal teams don’t deliver change.
An External Perspective
An external specialist is not bound by fear or internal business limitations. They understand that change has to deliver both at a commercial and customer level, and that change has to be underpinned by sustainability.
The first step to achieving positive change is to understand what is being done, if it’s being done correctly, and then to analyse the data to determine where efficiency gains can be made. When you have a solid foundation of accurate data, you can make sound, evidence-based decisions that deliver real change. If you don’t have a strong data foundation, change will be fundamentally undermined.
Most change IS NOT underpinned by sustainability – and that’s a problem. If you make change in an operation, for instance reducing capacity by 10%, then you need to make sure that change is sustainable. There is nothing worse than reducing operational costs, then having to put them back in because the change wasn’t sustainable.
When we talk about a ‘sustainable operation’ we are talking about an operation that meets present business needs without compromising on the ability of future needs.
An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.
The foundation of sustainability
Sustainability isn’t something you can just add to an operation. It needs to be embedded. With the right tools and frameworks in place you are able to measure the right things, gather metrics and interrogate those metrics for opportunity. These tools then need to be combined with a change in your staff.With the right training you can change perceptions and teach the skills needed to change mindsets and embed a continuous improvement approach.
This fundamental change within the people who run your operation enables a significant step change in performance. By empowering your mangers and team leaders with the tools and skills they can then connect with and pass on the same improvement approach throughout your operational staff.