Starting with the post “Change is hard” we have talked about how to create the new normal corporate culture but that brings us to a more fundamental question – what do we change in the organization to create the new normal? The tendency is to try and change EVERYTHING at once and that does not work for many reasons. The basic reason is that you can’t be the master of everything and do it well.
Lets begin with the premise I believe we can all agree on and that is each of our organization’s is not perfect by any means. We have issues with performance, with financial matters, with customers and with human capital assets. This is only the beginning of a long list of issues that confront you everyday. The goal here must be to find those issues which when corrected can have the greatest impact on the organization. Those issues which when corrected can improve the organization in either a major or minor way. Processes can be fixed by minor changes to the steps. Customer demands can be fixed by listening to the voice of the customer and what they are telling us about our products or services. In some cases the change requires an almost total redo of the organization.
When looking at the area of changes to an organization there are usually two sides to the argument in response. One side says if the culture is flawed it is the fault of the human capital assets. If there is a problem in the organization it is due to the talents, skills and abilities of our personnel. So the proper effort to change the organization is get rid of the dead wood and find someone who can bring you those desired talents, skills and abilities. The difficulty here is in many cases we are confronted with the environment where the people problems are caused by either a lack of training or lack of will.
The second side of the coin is that our organizations are still using process designs that are out of date for the times. They are processes contrived by the organization eons ago and in today’s workplace have no relevance. In this case we have to fight the tendency to continue to do things as we have always done. Here is where we find the silent obstacle to process improvement. This is where we find the manager who talks the talk but does not walk the walk. The view is everything is working fine just look around. The problem is when you do that everything is not fine.
Steps to determine what to change?
- Review all corporate processes – Look at them in depth. See what is causing the customer to be screaming down your neck because something is not right.
- 2. Identify the villains – What in the process is causing the hang up. Consider the government agency that found that their recruiting efforts were slowed because the hiring process had redundancies in the process. Once you have identified the things causing you not to sleep at night narrow that list down to a handful of very critical issues that when corrected would enhance the bottom line of the organization. Typically these are things, which are referred to as the low hanging fruit. They are easy fixes, which generate large returns on investment.
- Experiment – Take the problem and seek out the alternatives to the way the problem is addresses today that will achieve the same end goal but makes the organization run more efficiently. You want to do that for each of the critical few processes you have identified.
- See it, feel it, change it – Some of you may have been reading this post and thought I was going to give you a long list of the changes to make. But I can’t do that. I have not seen your problems although I can guess at what problems you are facing because some are common to every organization. I know they are in plain sight within your organization. I do not know how the problems affect your organization. You are the only ones who can tell me how the problems are affecting your organization. You are the only ones who can tell me how you feel the current process outputs in the organization. From that process you are the only ones who can initiate the changes to create the new normal.
David Steinberg of XML marketing has said Innovation doesn’t have to be about creating the light bulb or telegraph. Innovation can be very important small changes to something that is already working. That is the stuff that is overlooked and it can take things to the next level.
Here is the bottom line. Find the problems. Understand why they exist and what you can do about them. Once you have found the problem understand how that problem is affecting the organization. Finally create the new normal. Make the important small changes that David Steinberg references and improve the organization and its process steps in alignment with the organizational strategic goals and initiatives.