Implementing Change-What’s next now that you have an improvement topic?

This is the fourth post of a five-part series on Implementing Change which has had the objective of making you a better leader and a Change Catalyst. These are critical skills for today’s Food & Beverage manufacturing leaders and leaders in all types of organizations. As a quick review, we have already explored the 8 Steps of Change Management and Overcoming Resistance to Change. People don’t like change and as a leader, you will invariably need to implement change well if you are to be successful. In fact, you will need to be a Change Catalyst if you are going to reach your potential as a leader. Finally we looked at Step 1: Identify the Improvement Area and how to use the Pareto Priciple also known as the 80-20 rule. You will need this tool to set priorities since there are often more opportunities for loss reduction than there are resources in today’s Food & Beverage manufacturing plants. Today’s post will go quickly through steps 2 through 5 of implementing change:

As previously noted, the key to successful change, like so many things, is early management. There are several steps to successfully implementing change, even before your roll it out:

1.) Identify the Improvement Area {click on the link for more detail} Set SMART Goals in order to have well-defined expectations of the team.

2.) Explore options. There will often be several potential solutions. Solicit ideas in team meetings or more casual conversations in the hall or on the factory floor. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of all ideas with those who are stakeholders. This would include a cross-section of those who have to implement the changes, managers who own the results, and other departments that could be affected by the change. Don’t forget to include the Quality Department when changing procedures that could affect the quality of your product, for example. Depending on the complexity of the idea, you may need to charter a cross functional team to explore the options. You may also find it beneficial to pull a smaller group of operators and mechanics to perform a 5 Why Root Cause Analysis if you are addressing a specific breakdown or quality failure.

3.) Decide on the best option. You have discussed several options. Decide which path of improvement you will take. The more stakeholders that are involved in the decision, the more ownership you will have up front. Be careful not to let the process cause undue delays though. You will need to maintain the balance between moving too quickly where you don’t get critical involvement, and involving everyone to the point of paralysis. Be sure to have buy-in on bigger decisions from anyone who has the ability to veto your decision if you are not the final authority for the decision. Make the decisions at the right level.

4.) Communicate the change. You will need to broadly communicate the decision for the change. Be honest about your plans. Be open to discussions about the potential roadblocks. Bring forth the roadblocks you have already identified and how you plant to work through those issues. All of the stakeholders need to be well aware of the change before it can be properly implemented. The floor operators on all shifts must understand their roles. Follow up with the key players to ensure understanding and buy-in.

5.) Overcoming resistance to change. You will probably hit some resistance to the change even as you are exploring ideas with your team or with individuals. That resistance is good because it will help prepare you for the resistance you surely encounter when communicating that change to the larger group. This was discussed in more detail in Implementing Change-Overcoming the Resistance.

Now that you have a specific area of improvement identified, you have explored and decided on the options, you have communicated the change and are managing the resistance, you are well on your way to successful change implementation. Tomorrow’s post will bring this topic home.

About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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8 Responses to Implementing Change-What’s next now that you have an improvement topic?

  1. Geoff Hardy says:

    I enjoyed your blog and you make some good points. It is interesting to observe how many programmes fall down on your step number 4 (communication) and how this is often ‘underplayed.’

    • Geoff,

      Thank you for your comments and observations. You are absolutely right about the communication. It seems that communication is an issue in all organizations. The problem is magnified when leaders fail to communicate change effectively. It is easy to underplay the communication in today’s busy world.

      Thanks again,

  2. I like the steps to facilitate change. A good leader will actively involve the group in the process. Most individuals are more likely to buy into change if they are part of the process. I think as we grow older we expect change.

  3. Thanks for the feedback, Julia. You are right about good leaders involving their team and gaining buy-in in the process.

    All the best,

  4. Paul Novak says:

    Change is the one thing you can count on always being constant. It makes sense to take advantage of it rather than being its victim. Communication is definitely key, and as well as those you are involving directly in effecting changes, it pays to give notice to those who will be affected by it end term, like customers and business affiliates. Really good series, well constructed and informative.

    • Paul,

      Thank you for your comments. You clearly have been through your share of change as well and are right that people need to embrace the change. Your observations about the customers and business affiliates are very valid. It’s probably even worse to surprise a customer than those within your firm. Thanks again.

      Chris Paulsen

  5. Pingback: Implementing Change-What's next now that you have an improvement … | Manufacturing Report

  6. Thanks for the Pingback from Manufacturing Report!

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