Where Process Improvements Go Wrong


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Avoiding common pitfalls

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Where Process Improvements Go Wrong

  1. 1. Where process improvements go wrong: Avoid common pitfalls of process improvement initiatives Danie du Toit Business Improvement Specialist Telkom SA LTD
  2. 2. Agenda  Why understand process improvement pitfalls  Continuous improvement drivers  Characteristics of pitfalls  Impact of pitfalls  Recommendations to mitigate pitfalls 2
  3. 3. The truth or not?What do weight-loss plans and process improvement programs have in common?They typically start off well, generating excitement and great progress, but all too often fail to have a lasting impact as participants gradually lose motivation and fall back into old habits Process improvement programs typically show early progress, and then things return to the way they were 3
  4. 4. Questions to ask yourself1. Has your organisation achieved lasting gains from process improvement programs?2. Do you pay much attention to these programs once they move past the initial stage?3. Are you involved enough in them to judge for yourself whether they are worth continuing?4. Have you tied employee performance appraisals to process improvements?5. Do you plan on keeping an improvement expert on your staff long term? If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you should understand how and why so many process improvement programs fail. Source: Wall Street Journal 25 January 2010 “Satya S. Chakravorty” 4
  5. 5. A Definition pit·fall noun pit-fȯl 1. An unapparent sources of trouble or danger; a hidden hazard: “potential pitfalls stemming from their optimistic inflation assumptions” New York Times 2. A concealed hole in the ground that serves as a trap The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 5
  6. 6. Why understand Process improvement Pitfalls? • Abundance of information on the ideal state for an organization, but minimal information of what not to do in getting there • Process improvements have high rewards, but also high risks when implementing • Not everyone knows what you know about process improvements • Process improvements is commonly viewed as a Technical and not a Management topic • You want to be successful in delivering process improvement and value added change • Recent studies suggest that nearly 60 % of all corporate process improvement initiatives fail to yield the desired results (Wall street Journal 25 January 2010) 6
  7. 7. Process improvement intiatives drivers Purpose • Why • When Process • What • How People • Who • Where • Now onto the Pitfalls…. In no specific order of importance or grading 7
  8. 8. Pitfalls within driver 1 Lack of interest or drive by Top Management Key stakeholders are not actively involvedPurpose Failure to link process improvement objectives to strategic goals Process improvement teams have dual functions Weak process improvement Leadership and or Sponsorship 8
  9. 9. Common characteristics of pitfalls  Impose unrealistic expectations Characteristics  Hidden agendas  Looking for short cuts – Just do something  Lack of performance measures Purpose  Process improvement goals not aligned to company Impact strategy  Looking for silver bullets  Lack of end-to-end representation How to mitigate 9
  10. 10. Impact of pitfalls  Process improvement deliverables not impacting on strategic goals Characteristics  Resources tied up in never ending projects  Process improvement models / methodologies and project teams blamed for failures Purpose  Employees become despondent towards process Impact improvement initiatives  “Silocitis” as an organisational disease prevails  Low return on investment on process improvement initiatives How to mitigate 10
  11. 11. How to mitigate these pitfalls  Clarify Roles and Responsibilities Characteristics Talk the language of management “Money, Bottom Line”  Encourage Top Management to become trained and run projects  Map stakeholders and do effective stakeholder management Purpose  Involve stakeholders in decision making Impact  Educate Top Management by scheduling orientation sessions on proper process improvements  Ensure complete scoping of improvement initiatives  Include process improvements deliverables key performance How to areas mitigate  Ensure project goals and objectives are aligned with strategic/corporate goals If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. “Henry Ford” 11
  12. 12. Pitfalls within driver 2 Failure to stabilise the process prior to embarking on process improvementsProcess Staff process improvement teams with wrong people Not walking the process and involving employees upfront 12
  13. 13. Common characteristics of pitfalls  Huge amount of variation in process Characteristics  Process outputs are unpredictable  Project teams suffer from “Analysis Paralysis”  Inexperienced employees assigned to process improvement teams Process Impact  Lack of commitment from team members Team is heavily staffed with external consultants  No clear understanding on end-to-end process How to  No end-to-end representation on team mitigate 13
  14. 14. Impact of pitfalls  Extended timeline to implement improvements Characteristics  Improvements implemented do not have an impact on organisational goals  Employees resistant towards process improvement initiatives  “Silocitis” as an organisational disease prevails Process Impact  Lost investment when external consultants leave  Pockets of excellence created in value stream  Process improvement effort does not deliver value How to mitigate 14
  15. 15. How to mitigate these pitfalls  Spend time early in the improvement process to review the process performance Characteristics  Standardise the process through implementation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), best in class practices  Focus on making right things easy to do and wrong things hard to do Process Impact  Ensure people in the process improvement team are knowledgeable on the processes in practice  Leverage external consultants to help launch and enable your process improvement team How to  Ensure all functions affected by the envisaged process improvement are represented on the team mitigate  Every project should start with a process walkthrough to understand the process to be improved Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. Vincent Van Gogh, Dutch painter (1853-1890) 15
  16. 16. Pitfalls within driver 3 Inadequate training and development of teams and employees, and communication to employees No performance measures and awards to motivate employees People Ignoring the people factor / Poor change management 16
  17. 17. Common characteristics of pitfalls  Lowered productivity Characteristics  Ineffective communication mediums used to communicate  Lack of Top Management visibility at the cold face where improvements take place (Walk the Talk)  No communication and training plans available for project People Impact  Process improvement efforts not included in project team members performance and appraisal system.  No organisational change management visible  Resistance to improvement adoption and change How to  Employees questioning the change are seen as rebels or mitigate trouble makers 17
  18. 18. Impact of pitfalls  High emotional stress levels visible in staff Characteristics  Conflict increases  Past patterns of behaviour become highly valued  Increased timelines to implement change  Employees become despondent People Impact  Lack of trust between workforce and management  Lost in productivity  Resistance to change How to  Organised labour rejection of improvement mitigate initiatives 18
  19. 19. How to mitigate these pitfalls  Communicate, communicate, communicate Characteristics  Understand forces of change within the process to be improved  Develop proper change management strategy upfront  Include organised labour as a stakeholder upfront  Allow employees to question changes and give detail answers People Impact  Assist employees through the change transition  Provide appropriate training in new skills and coaching in new values and behaviours How to  Give more feedback than usual mitigate  Recognise and reward efforts A person’s life is an accumulation of time just one hour is equivalent to a persons life. Employees provide their precious hours of life to the company so we have to use it effectively otherwise we are wasting their life. “Eiji Toyoda” 19
  20. 20. In summary  If you hit a pitfall, the situation can be recovered  Knowledge, anticipation and awareness are the best defenses against pitfalls  Preventing pitfalls will dramatically increase the chances of a successful process improvement effort 20
  21. 21. Acknowledgements  Slalom Consulting, “Avoiding Process Improvement Pitfalls”  Chakravorty, S – Wall Street Journal January 2010  Breyfogle, F.W., “C Suite: The need to rethink our Business Systems strategic planning, Scorecard Creation, and Process Improvement Efforts”  Dr Danie Vermaak., “Sustaining initiatives from a management perspective”  Henk Lourens., “Leading people through change”  Paula Riley, Riley Process Excellence  Jacques Snyders – Training Leadership Consulting  Paul Obiero – Kenya Airways  Telkom Business Improvement Office Variability B I O  Miranda Ferreira – Dimension Data Inflexibility Waste 21
  22. 22. In closing New age thinking of working “smarter” not “harder” is a myth Everyday you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. “Winston Churchill” 22