It is great that you have the focus to want to improve, but how do you go about turning this into a workable plan to make it happen? Your goal/solution may not always be clearly visible but will emerge from a desire to improve in a particular area of the business. One of your greatest assets is your people, so harness that knowledge and use their experience of the business processes to improve. When planning any change focus on where the improvements are coming from, who they will effect and how you will communicate this. Managing the change will be crucial to success and minimizing resistance to the change. Take time to focus on the company culture and people before rushing in to improve on what you perceive to be a problem as others may not see things your way!
These are my tips for anyone wishing to make a difference in their organization.
- Know where the company sees itself through its Mission statement and Vision.
- Have a clear understanding of the company’s business processes and the relationships between them (internal & external customers, bottleneck experiences, and the supply chain involved).
- Understand the customer and the target market, what are the current demands and who are the competition?
- Know the level of commitment being given to the project / process improvement by the executive board.
- Identify how information is currently given to employees, for example word of mouth, notice boards, weekly meetings.
- Look at how the company’s mission/vision is translated down through to the shop floor? Do employees understand what they contribute to the company’s success?
- Make sure you understand the company finances, operating costs and margins.
- Identify and manage any risk areas.
I believe a company is only as good as its people and culture – make them understand how much they have to offer and what they can do. There will be hurdles but once these are identified then they can be tackled one little step at a time, eventually leading to the big success you seek.
Next installment: Process improvement – where do we start?