Implementation Insights Blog

Implementation Management Associates help organizations around the world achieve large-scale, complex change. This blog discusses our insights into organizational change.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Are Your Continuous Improvement Programs Delivering on their Promise?

One of the most significant stumbling blocks that business process re-engineering initiatives encounter is in the deployment phase of the process improvement process. There is logic and data to suggest that although statistical analyses can improve organizational effectiveness, reduce unnecessary activities, increase productivity, and reduce costs, no process improvement or culture change will occur unless solutions can be implemented through to utilization and Return on Investment. The application of the Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) dramatically improves the likelihood of success for Lean and Six Sigma initiatives.

Beyond selecting the right projects, business process re-engineering will only be successful if the improvements are properly implemented and achieve long-term adoption. Successful deployment of process improvement initiatives such as Lean Production require the selection of the right people for implementation (Agents); the right leadership (Sponsors); the right personal recognition and environmental supports (Reinforcement); and the right methods for identifying and managing resistance to changes (Readiness for change).

Application of the AIM Methodology enables Lean and Six Sigma teams to apply the same process framework approach to what is often considered to be the softer side of process improvement. The methodology offers a robust set of tools and measurement diagnostics, along with a structured framework for managing the human elements of continuous improvement efforts. This is supplemented by organizational learning to provide practical tactics and strategies that will increase internal capacity to implement more quickly.

To improve your own organization’s Lean and Six Sigma results, IMA (Implementation Management Associates) recommends the following specific actions become part of your business process re-engineering protocols:

  1. Apply the same data-based approach to the human elements through use of diagnostics such as the Implementation History Assessment, Implementation Risk Forecast, Sponsor Assessment, and Change Agent Assessment to identify implementation barriers

  2. Define the desired behaviors (who will need to do what differently, and how well will they need to do it) up-front so that they can be measured and reinforced on the back-end

  3. Develop implementation plans that blend technology and business process improvements with structured, hard deliverables for the human elements, including key role maps, impact mapping, a Sponsorship Strategy and a Reinforcement Strategy that can be seamlessly managed

  4. Re-define the role of the Sponsor from providing high-level support based on organizational position to providing three specific actions: Expressing, Modeling, and Reinforcing the desired behaviors

  5. Develop a Readiness Strategy that specifically includes actions for sourcing and managing Resistance to changes resulting from Lean Six Sigma analyses

These five actions will significantly increase the effectiveness of your continuous improvement initiatives. And as we all know, these efforts are more important than ever to organizational effectiveness and perhaps, even organizational survival.

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