The business world is changing quickly and constantly as new technologies enter the market. Business leaders are faced with a bewildering, ever expanding choice of innovative products and services they are being told they need to keep up with their competitors.
But, in truth, the majority of challenges and opportunities businesses are facing can often be resolved by looking at things from a different perspective and making a few simple changes.
In recognition of this, we have adapted the way we support larger, more complex businesses and organisations. We don’t just fix problems, we re-connect people with the work they do and make the work fun again! Happy people work better together and get more done!
The improvement challenges for larger organisations
So which is the ‘best’ improvement method for you to use. Are you using the ‘right’ one?
Factors such as multi-site operations, complex organisational structures and the scale and type of change required all influence how you can get to the best outcome. Any of the usual improvement methodologies, such as Lean, Six Sigma or continuous improvement, could be right for you. They’re all equally effective if applied correctly.
But project outcomes will be influenced by a whole range of variable human factors. Typical challenges could include:
- The energy and vision of the senior leadership team can get lost or diluted by the time it reaches front-line staff
- Strategy needs to reflect the sometimes competing needs and priorities of different parts of the business
- Staff becoming confused or overwhelmed because of the competing objectives within different business units
We have experience of working with the full range of improvement and project methodologies and can use them if they suit your requirements. Many of these methodologies can provide the structure and resilience your improvement programme needs to succeed. The skill is in adapting how you apply your preferred method to fit the specific requirements and culture of your business.
“Efficient Thinking supported us in the design and delivery of our new processes. The programme was ambitious in its scope and had a demanding timeline. They were instrumental in motivating the team, who enthusiastically embraced the change programme and became digital ambassadors for the rest of the organisation”
Making sense of it all
It’s all too tempting to work on an improvement in isolation. It feels like a quicker way to do things. But every individual process depends on or supports many others. A small positive change here could result in a disaster somewhere else in the organisation. We know, from experience, that setting up a project office ‘war room’, separated from the day-to-day doesn’t work.
The first step for any improvement initiative, and one that is frequently missed out, is an understanding of the corporate strategy, and aligning all improvements to this strategy so that everyone is heading in the same direction.
“The delivery strategy developed by Efficient Thinking prioritised the sequence of projects and identified all actions required. This was endorsed by the stakeholders as achievable and realistic and their advice enabled us to successfully meet our objectives”
To achieve this, everyone should understand how any proposed change might affect them and have an opportunity to contribute to the design of a new process. We invest heavily in managing and maintaining relationships within and across teams and departments to ensure there are no surprises, to keep everyone on the same page and to update them on progress, frequently.
Financial reporting, targets, existing projects and internal politics can all play a part in the success (or otherwise) of an improvement programme. Understanding this context and tracking all existing or planned projects is one of the first things we do.
“Staff were operating as a team and could see the whole process through from end to end, creating ownership of the process and pride in their work.”
Engaging your staff
Staff who are involved in the decision making of the improvement initiative are more likely to be fully engaged and will come to expect, adapt to and welcome the changes.
The culture of the organisation can be hugely influential when it comes to initiating change, particularly the behaviour and language of senior staff/leadership. We invest a significant amount of our time supporting managers, giving them the skills and confidence needed to lead change and improvement initiatives.
We see operations management as the engine room of success. Having good data on which to base decisions, manage workflow and make plans is a vital component of success. Making it visible, even more so.
“I was cynical about the use of external consultants; previous experience has been poor (being told what to do without proper explanation, etc.). This time it hasn’t been like that.
Performance targets are a traditional way of managing outputs, but their effectiveness can vary significantly. These can be cheated and often lead t people trying to outdo each other rather to the do the right time every time. We prefer to use data analysis to inform a discussion with staff to design measures that reflect their work and then, over time, understand how we can find ways, together, to improve productivity.
Here are some case studies to outline how we work.