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November 15, 2011

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes

By jcrosswell November 15, 2011
Change sign

Are you open to change?

When implementing Lean transformation projects one concept that I have always included in the training material is R=Q X A:

(R)esults = the (Q)uality of the solution times the (A)cceptance.

Recently I have worked on a large transformation project that includes a significant quantity of classroom training and Rapid Improvement Events (RIE) over several months. In the past there have been some disappointing experiences with companies that seem to want to implement Lean  only to go through the motions - and ending up in a place where they could not sustain the improvements they made. The culture of the company that I am currently working with is very traditional and relatively resistant to change. The management is knowledgeable of the benefits that can be achieved by using Lean practices but they are reluctant to make significant changes. My working partner and I are helping the RIE teams develop Lean processes. We agree the changes the teams have come up are low risk and are very doable. In fact, since we began working with this company we have always agreed that common Lean techniques such as cellular flow could be applied to almost all the customer’s value-streams.

However my partner and I do disagree significantly on our approach.

Since this organization has proven to be very conservative, I have taken the approach of supporting the limited changes they approve whereas my colleague continues to try and persuade them to embrace larger changes. In some cases his approach has intensified their resistance. I see it as a “human relations” issue. I agree that the company will get better results with more significant changes, but since management is very conservative I support their limited approvals. So far this has worked well and is continuing to improve. Once the employees gain experience with the limited changes they are taking more initiative to continue improving their processes. The teams have actually continued the changes to some processes to the point we originally estimated could have been achieved by making the larger change initially. I think either approach could be the most appropriate depending of the situation. I would like to hear from others who have had similar experiences and your success using one or the other approach:

A)     Accepting a limited amount of change to begin with, relying that the small successes will help continuous change become part of the culture

B)      Pushing for higher expectations and risk that larger changes will be resisted or not approved.

Which has worked better for you?

Related Post:
How to get Results: R=Q x A

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