Business Enterprise Mapping, is in the business of leading sustainable process improvement. As such, I am asked the following question in early conversations by virtually every new client prospect.
"How do we successfully implement sustainable process improvement?"
And one thing I know sure.
"Success is far more dependent on the client than the consultant!"
We know there are certain necessary conditions that, if the client has them in place, will greatly increase the probability of making process improvement stick. These six conditions are summarized here.
Sustainable Process Improvement
Commitment is really a surrogate for purpose and need. Leadership will generally demonstrate the commitment to process improvement if they feel a compelling need for that improvement. The pain of the current situation must be so great that not improving is even worse.
Clarity provides an understanding of what changes will drive the improvement, how they will be implemented and what will be different in the future. Lack of clarity will torpedo a change every time.
The goal establishes what leadership is striving to accomplish with the organizational improvement by what date. A goal creates organization focus along with the critical framework for monitoring improvement progress.
Measurement provides the scorecard for where the organization is on its journey to improve performance. To be effective, measurement must monitor the extent to which the goal has been achieved.
Transparency is an essential element of process improvement sustainability. By making progress visible to everyone, it is more readily adopted by company culture and increases the likelihood of follow-through.
To be held accountable, an individual or team must first know the goal, have the capability to implement improvement, know that the measure accurately reflects performance, and be given full responsibility and authority to implement and monitor the improvement.
Sustainable process improvement requires the implementation of new and better ways to yield successful outcomes. Finding what’s wrong with most organizations isn't that hard to do. The real challenge is implementing sustainable process improvement and the six conditions above are great predictors of success.
Further Reading: THE PERIGON METHOD