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TLS Continuum Part 31: The Reality of Change Management

I am currently in the process of reading Michael Rother’s Toyota Kata, which brings up some interesting points regarding process improvement. We stated in Part 28 of the series that true change management involves a change of corporate culture. But what do we mean by this?

To reach the full impact of change management EVERY member of the organization from the maintenance department to the corner office must change their focus from a silo to a corporate mantra. This mantra says that everyone, every day needs to be vigilant of the flow of products and services through the organization. They must understand how each of their functions fits into the total organizational flow. At the same time they must openly challenge the status quo if it providing waste to the customer. If their individual process is holding up the flow they must either fix it or get assistance from the resources that can fix it.

Throughout my Black Belt training we were always told to look for the critical few and resolve those issues first. The problem with that outlook is when you identify the critical few, the other process issues in other departments tend to pile up and get pushed aside. This means that issues dwell instead of being addressed.

If I look for the signs that change management is actually taking place within the organization there are several signs that I look for to indicate some modicum of success.

  • First, the flow of concern about the organization processes flows both down from top management and equally from the rank and file up to management. This change in corporate culture fully recognizes that the human capital assets are not there just to get a check. They truly have as valuable interest in the organization as does management.
  • Second, management is not just paying lip service to the concept of process improvement. They get that in the vast array of problems facing the organization the problem lies in the process not the people. The process steps are what are causing the problem and in there lays the issues that must be addressed.
  • Third, management understands that on of the problem sources in process issues is that the solution is based in a silo rather than organization wide. It is critical that management push for cross-functional input on any suggested resolutions to the issues.
  • Fourth, management is not using the change management effort as a way to trim the headcount number. They are called human capital assets for a reason. The result of this change should not be to push someone out the door in the name of cost savings.
  • Fifth, as an extension of the first item, I need to see everyone within the organization on a constant basis reviewing ALL organizational processes for ways to deliver the end product or service with better quality, faster in time to deliver and cheaper in costing less money to complete the process. We do not mean using cheap materials, we mean that we can deliver cost savings by delivering the product or service to the customer earlier than they expected.
  • Sixth, management does not stand in the way of organizational improvement. They rid the organization of statements such as we don’t do things that way here. They rid the organization of the statement it is not my job. Their function is to rid the organization of corporate turbulence from those who are intent on stopping the improvement effort.
  • Seventh, I see an excitement among the entire organization about the prospects of the changed culture. The changes may at first be subtle but as time goes on and the solutions are implemented it becomes a whole new environment. There is a feeling of wonder as the organization becomes more attune to process issues and their remedies.
  • Eight, The organization tackles problems on a continual basis every day with permission from management to make it a better place to work, to bring about a pride in workmanship of the organization.

The reality of change management is that we are creating a new organization. It maybe rooted in the values of the past. But those values are delivered in a new environment. One that brings about total pride in workmanship in the products and services they deliver to the customer. One that brings about a new organizational focus centered on process improvement. We are creating a new presentation to the customer, as we become critical business partners with their organization.


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