'How to guide towards systematic self improving organization'
1. What is the meaning of setting 'continuous improvement' ?
'Continuous Improvement' is about setting a Management System* that engages everyone in a systematic improvement of the process towards operational excellence to better satisfy our customers.
*'Management System' could be understood as 'company culture' : It is a set of values, routines and tools that leads to expected behaviors and way of doing. To set CI is about creating a continuous virtuous process to make the organization able to systematically adapt itself to its environment.
To implement continuous improvement in one organization means to evolve its internal management system (so company culture), targeting to develop 4 main cultural pillars :
A strong culture of change, agility and adaptability.
What are the internal processes to drive the organization to systematically rechallenge and reshape itself for more customer satisfaction ?
What is the ability of the leaders to drive their company culture change ? to fix and clear the new process ?
2. A strong ‘problem thinking’ culture :
How each one is encouraged to detect and to raise up the improvements opportunities ?
How the culture of the ‘standards’ enables each one to detect gaps in the day to day job and can deploy quickly optimized solutions ?
How visual management is used to facilitate gaps and abnormalities detection, turning them unacceptable and forcing the improvements?
How strong is the data thinking culture, encouraging each one to focus on facts before taking action ?
How problems are considered as opportunity improvements at all levels of the company ? Are they considered as treasures or shames to hide ?
Is there any scientific approach to solve the problems ?
3. A Strong ‘people empowerment’ culture :
Perfection comes from the ability to deal with each and every single small improvement. To go down to the details can only be reached thanks to an active involvement from each one !
How each collaborator at all levels in the organizaiton is encouraged to bring its contribution to the optimization process ?
How each one is pushed to take concrete action to test improvement options ? What are the internal processes to improve skills & develop people ?
How everyone feels concerned by the company project and can understand its personal contribution to it ?
4. And finally, a strong customer oriented culture !
How each one in the company has a strong customer understanding ?
How is this customer needs taken into consideration to drive the organization ?
Is the company organized by silos or by customer ?
What is the ability of each and everyone to continuously rechallenge the value chain for more customer satisfaction ?
2. Driving a culture change ?
To implement CI can be summarized as to evolve the company culture. By definition, to change an organizational culture is something difficult :
Culture is self reinforcing. People that are not sharing the company values and culture have already left it ! Only people sharing & living it are still there. They are thankful to the company culture and contribute to maintain it.
Culture is designed to maintain the statu quo. The culture itself is the main reason why the organization itself still exists ! If the culture was not a positive concept, then the organization would already have disappeared.
Therefore, to succeed in the transformation, some key conditions need to be gathered :
You need to have serious reasons to bring the change : The top leader ‘sense of danger’ will be an essential engine for the change.
As the internal resistances to the change will be strong, leading the change needs to be considered as a project requesting to be structured and supported by competent resources
Taking actions on the management routines (or rituals) will create new habits for all employees. It will deeply impact the mindset of all and so the culture. This is probably the best way to Influence the organization culture (see figure)
3. What are the different roles in the change management ?
There are 2 main roles in the culture change project :
The CI Agent =referent (OPM / CI Leader / PL CI )
Main job of leaders is to create the conditions to get sustainable & self improving performances.
Definitely, the leader is the one to give the direction of the company culture. Without the leader awareness and motivation, do not expect to bring sustainable changes !
The CI Agent can influence and facilitate the leaders awareness raising : The competency development, some benchmarks, study cases, and on the field coaching are all actions that will contribute to raise up leaders danger awareness. Of course, the personal values & beliefs of the leader, as the long term project (company vision) and purpose of the organization need to be aligned with the CI logic.
If the leader support and commitment is a must, it will not be sufficient to sustainabely transform the organization ! Culture change will occur thanks to effective actions driven at all company levels from bottom to top. These actions : improvements workshops, competency development, new management routines... target to put each collaborator in a situation to experiment continuous improvement in his daily activity. The purpose of all the actions is also to develop a strong ownership and commitment of each.
As a conclusion, CI agent is needed to support the change. By essence, it is therefore a provisory resource to allocate. But as soon as the culture change project has been driven, the change agent resource is not needed any more.
4. What are the steps to drive towards systematic self improving organization
There is no 'sequential' process to transform an organization culture. Each organization and each leader are unique.
But, we have identified a set of targets that needs to be reached. Each target can be approached in different order depending on the situation
We can identify 2 application fields to address : The leadership of the company and all the operational chain in the organization.
Addressing the management chain
- Target 1 -
Confirm the leader’s motivation to transform his company
- Target 3 -
Systematic project management
- Target 2 -
Inject CI mindset and behaviors to the leaders = Set CI routines
Addressing all employees
from bottom to top of the organization
- Target 1 -
Quick wins actions focused on the main problems
- Target 2 -
Create the conditions for
self improving results
= Set CI routines
- Target 3 -
Duplicate and extend
Move to the next problem and start again
4. What others say about it ?
An other simple way to introduce the different steps to lead the transformation