The most common observation in my consulting practice is the claim that process reviews conducted by an “intervention group” are the organisation’s improvement system. Unfortunately on their own process reviews will only solve point in time problems.
Process reviews can be very effective interventions to improve a process and many process reviews combined may cover much of the organisation. However, the outcome is usually a temporary or even a permanent improvement that plateaus very quickly. That is because an organisation, like any living thing, has an immune system that will fight off foreign bodies and seek to maintain the status quo.
The immune system should not be considered as “resistant to change” or “acts of sabotage of the program.” It is how systems work and we should be grateful for its existence. Rather the intervention team should consider what makes up that immune system, how to temporarily dampen it to enable the intervention to take hold and finally how to re-engage it in a way that it now supports the changed organisation.
There is no one way to achieve this outcome but there are a few principles that should be considered:
- Treat people like adults and respect their position. There is normally a very good reason for it.
- Be clear on the intent and live by it.
- Design the intervention in a way that builds demonstrable, and well-earned trust with those affected by that intervention.
- Adopt a learning posture to the program balancing EQ/IQ.
- Be the catalyst. It is not your party.
- People need to experience what “it” is, not be told what “it” is.
- The teacher arrives when the student is ready.
These are the main ones. I am sure you can think of others. Living these principles within the intervention should lead to a well formed self-sustaining system.
It is much easier to run a process review than to build a true improvement system. It is a bit like chess. The rules are simple but the strategies are not! Those that have mastered the strategy reap deep rewards in customer experience, employee engagement, productivity, profitability and change agility.
Take the plunge and go all the way!