In watching hundreds of people go through part — if not all — of the path to manufacturing excellence, I’ve determined the five elements that must be addressed to build profitable, sustainable change into your improvement project. These areas include the following:
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- Change dynamics: knowing what to expect when those affected by the change move through the process
- Leadership: knowing what to change and when to change your leadership style and your processes
- Risk identification and management: understand what could go wrong and what you’re going to do about it proactively
- Communication: understand what media to use, how to use them and at what frequency
- Project management: know who is going to do which step and when during change implementation.
If you neglect any of these elements, the project might never get started, could underachieve results, or could become completely unsustainable leading to little if any business results.
Dynamics of change
The change process happens in stages, to both groups and individuals. The five stages are:
- Stage I = Discovery: Don’t know what they don’t know
- Stage II = Discomfort: Don’t like all this change
- Stage III = Development: Don’t know if we will ever get there
- Stage IV = Demonstration: Don’t want to go back to the old way
- Stage V = Defend: Don’t want organization changes to derail the new way of doing business
Leadership is the single biggest reason many change initiatives fail to achieve the expected results. Leaders must understand the dynamics of change and ensure they’re meeting needs thoroughly. Communication is a key part of this process (and a later section), but we must first identify some of the specific traits a leader should display. There are many books dedicated to this subject alone that can help to solidify this portion of your change process, so we will just touch on two.