Look around the corporate landscape and you are bound to find a corporation, which has a department or a program called quality assurance or quality effectiveness. We get that, but they are approaching it the wrong way. Process improvement is not a program. Process improvement is not a department. Process improvement is a process. So what do we mean?
As we stated in Part 28: Change Management vs. Change Management, process improvement is about changing the corporate culture. We change it by changing the mantra of the organization. We change it by creating a different work environment. These are all processes they are not programs. We can use the same process steps as we do with any problem and create that process. Consider the process map as outlined below.
Step 1: Define
We begin by identifying the areas where we are failing to meet the demands of our customers. It is the voice of the customer that creates the process. From the voice of the customer we identify where the process is delivering less than optimal service to the customer.
Step 2: Measure
The process then begins to find where we are not meeting those customer demands and why not. Is it a failure to deliver some step in the service or product delivery? Is it something to do with the delivery process? We need to identify those factors that are less than customer demands and needs.
Step 3: Analyze
In this step we need to look at the gap between what we do and what the customer wants. From there we need to identify the steps needed to change the culture of the organization to meet the customer demands.
Step 4: Improve
This is probably the most critical step in the process. For it is here that we implement the changes to the corporate culture. It is here that we immerse the organization in the whys of the change and what the affect on the organization would be if we do not make the changes. It is here that we earn human capital asset investment in the change we are going to make.
Step 5: Control
The control step is where we introduce tools that will ensure that the organization does not slip back to the old way of doing things. It is absolutely necessary to understand that once we make the move to the new culture there is no going back. It is here that we show our customers that we are fully able to meet their demands.
So while it might assist the organization for the immediate time and place to call this culture change a department or a program it is in the long term a road to change. It is a series of steps designed to change the way our organization does business in order to meet the change in the voice of the customer. If we need to complete certain steps to get to the end goal it is a process not a program.