There are many obstacles to watch out for when embarking on a process improvement initiative in your business.
Business is so competitive these days that it’s important to stay one step ahead of the competition. One of the ways you can do that is by moving process improvement initiatives forward.
But just because something should be done, doesn’t mean it will be done. Here are three of the most common roadblocks that can stall your process improvement efforts and how to get around each.
Roadblock #1: Leadership Is Not Aligned
This can come in different varieties. There may be one executive who’s very supportive while the rest refuse to get on board or they each have a different idea of what success looks like.
How To Get Around It
Your best strategy here is to tie your improvement into business results. Show your leadership how it ties into your company vision and strategies, and how it will impact the bottom line. You may need to break this down for each of them, by their specific area of responsibility, so they can visualize what will happen and actually see what’s in it for them. Make sure you communicate in the way that is most palatable for them. If they’re detail-oriented, break it down. If they’re bigger picture, focus your communication on key outcomes, not details.
Roadblock #2: Process Improvement Considered An Event
Some companies leap from one “flavor of the month” to the next trying to find the best thing that will work in the business. And it’s no wonder. We’re bombarded today from companies and consultants who share their method for improvement as “the one thing” that will propel the business forward.
How To Get Around It
Communicate how the process improvement intersects with and supports company strategy and demonstrate the long-term value of the change integrating with the company vision. Complete and share a high-level plan that shows how the change will impact different areas of the company and what improvements will take place as the change becomes more concrete over time. Make sure you’re clear that process improvement is a continuous improvement effort that will ebb and flow as the changes take hold in the company.
Roadblock #3: View Process Improvement As a Tool
Often, companies will look to process improvement as a single problem-solving tool. They identify a problem, decide that improving the process will resolve it, make the change and then move on. This rarely ever works to create long lasting change in the company. Culture change must take place before the problem is totally solved.
How to Get Around It
Process improvement is about change in a company. And change is one of the toughest things to do because it requires people to shift their behavior. To overcome this resistance, you need to ensure that it is communicated widely before it ever begins. This should take place at all levels of the organization and make it clear what the impact will be to each area. It’s important that your communication focuses on what’s in it for them to break down the barriers that can stall your efforts. It’s also important to get as many people involved from the beginning to make the transition easier. That means creating cross-functional teams that will carry out the change effort. Typically, when people help create the change, they’re more likely to embrace it and help others see the value.