How to Build a Successful Organizational Improvement Program
By Tony Bodoh, President, Tony Bodoh International, LLC
The blind pursuit of greater efficiency has been the cause of failure for companies of all sizes. CEOs hear real stories of the results of Lean, Six Sigma, or Theory of Constraint projects and they boldly proclaim through an executive order that their companies will implement such programs. Years and millions of dollars later, these programs are abandoned as another failed fad.
Why do these programs fail more often than they succeed?
The answer is astonishingly simple: The management team did not change their thinking which informed their behaviors which caused their results.
Every change program must have essentially the same elements incorporated into it as any successful twelve step program. This is necessary because the processes and policies of companies are the cause of habits and addictions of the staff and management of the company. People do things the same way every day. They also crave the biochemical stimulus they receive through exerting power, being praised, or just being part of the crowd and complaining about what is wrong with the company.
If a CEO recognizes that her change program will come into direct conflict with the power of the subconscious minds of her employees and customers, she will build a program that focuses on changing the thinking and behavior of her employees, long before she address the change in results. In fact, the change in results will be exponentially greater if one focuses first on changing thinking and behaviors before attempting to change results.
How many people really understand the root cause of efficiency? I would argue that very few really grasp the true cause of efficiency.
Webster’s Dictionary defines efficiency as the power to produce the effect desired. Applying this definition to business, we would say that a project which has a thirty percent return on investment is more efficient than a project with a twenty percent return on investment. In essence, it took the same amount of money to create a greater effect.
This is interesting, but how does one create greater efficiencies?
The answer is found in the definition of effectiveness. Webster defines effectiveness as being in a condition to produce the desired effect. It is the condition that is the root cause of efficiency.
When teaching this concept in seminars I use a simple example.
Imagine a car is sitting on a road in neutral and facing the direction we want to go. If several people get behind the car and push, the car will begin to move. The transfer of power is efficient because we get movement.
Now, imagine the car has been turned perpendicular to the path we want to travel. Several people start to push on the side of the car in an attempt to push it down the road. The transfer of power is inefficient because we see no movement.
This example shows that efficiency is determined primarily by the alignment of the elements of a project with the vision of the end in mind. In other words, the car cannot move down the road if it is not first pointed in the right direction. It will take far more power to move a car that is out of alignment than a car that is aligned with the road.
These same principles hold true in business. Every organization is currently aligned to produce a particular effect with a specific amount of power. If the CEO wants to achieve the same effect with less power she must first create alignment in the minds and hearts of her management team and staff. Then she must remove resistance in the minds of customers, vendors and other stakeholders. Only when the alignment is correct will the results be efficiently achieved.
This last statement should not be construed as a reason to wait to act. In fact, you will only know that the conditions are correct when you test, through action, to see if the power you expend causes the results you want.
Follow these steps for success:
- Align the obvious elements
- Test through action
- Measure results
- Start the process again.
It is helpful, and often more efficient, to partner a change expert from outside the company with subject matter experts from inside the company. The transfer of knowledge from the expert to your team will increase effectiveness of future efforts.
About Tony Bodoh International
Tony Bodoh is an expert coach who specializes in aligning an organization’s operations and culture in the service industry. He has a portfolio of alignment projects with financial results ranging from $10 million to over $1 billion. Through projects focused on customer satisfaction and loyalty Bodoh has produced results with double and triple digit improvement in critical scores. Tony Bodoh’s Specialties: Application of Lean and Theory of Constraints principles in service industry.
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