Does Your Process Improvement Plan Pass the Test?

Process Improvement Planning

Are you in the planning phases for culture and process improvement activities for the new year, a new organization or a new project?

How do you ensure that your activities will yield the desired results? I recommend assessing your plan against the following questions to ensure your improvement efforts will create lasting effect.

Is the activity driven through need or is it in support of a leadership edict?

I still remember the day many years ago when a book was dropped off at my desk with the announcement this was our ‘new process.’ Our senior leader had decided the process described in the book would be the process we would follow going forward. Everyone was going to read the book and then we’d start following the new process…

Needless to say our process changes were not successful, because the well-meaning gesture did not consider the needs of the organization. There was no assessment of what the issues were that teams struggled with and what people needed to improve in support of meeting the organization’s objectives.

Are the solutions planned at the level where they will be implemented?

It is all too common for a group of leaders and managers to form committees in support of change.  They decide on next steps for those in their teams who do the work, without involving them in the planning or decision making.

These disconnects often catch teams by surprise and create unintentional side effects as they harm trust and engagement.  As a result, the best intentions for improvements fail, when the team members are not involved in how tasks will be refined and solutions will be implemented.

Are you balancing process improvements and ‘people improvements’?

Chances are, your improvement efforts cover new flow diagrams, improved RASI charts and perhaps even new metrics. Did you also include efforts to improve team harmony? If not, go back for needed adjustments to your plan.

Issues that result in team conflict and lack of productivity often stem from gaps in trust and collaboration.  These issues are often deemed too touchy and commonly ignored or downplayed at significant impact and cost.  To create balanced improvements, embrace the importance of addressing soft problems

Successful change requires holistic thinking

To facilitate successful change, a well-rounded improvement effort needs to be derived from the need of the organization, be inclusive in its activities and be holistically focused on process as well as people problems.


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