When Business Processes are a Changin’ Don’t Stay Quiet

July 18, 2012

One of the biggest mistakes employers make when changing internal processes is undercommunicating, according to a study released today by benchmarking firm APQC.

APQC referenced a book by John P. Kotter called “Leading Change” that outlined eight common errors organizations make when attempting to implement process changes.

They are:

  1. Allowing too much complacency
  2. Failing to create a sufficiently powerful guiding coalition
  3. Underestimating the power of vision
  4. Under-ommunicating the vision by a power of 10 (or 100 or even 1,000)
  5. Permitting obstacles to block the new vision
  6. Failing to create short-term wins
  7. Declaring victory too soon
  8. Neglecting to anchor changes firmly in the corporate culture

In the study, APQC offered several case studies from best-practice organizations that had successfully implemented process-change programs.

Military contractor Northrop Grumman Corp., for instance, uses a change-management model that incorporates several elements based on a book called “By What Method: Leading Large-Scale Quality and Productivity Improvement Efforts” written by process improvement expert D. Scott Sink.

The model facilitates change by addressing planning; politics; culture; education, training and development; infrastructure; technology and motivation. 

According to the report:

At Northrup Grumman, change initiatives typically begin with visionary executive leaders who generally get great ideas about process improvement. Advocates are tasked with broadcasting those ideas, facilitating process management teams, and implementing the changes.

For the change to be truly effective, however, it must become incorporated into the organizational DNA. For this, Northrop Grumman depends on its managers and project team members to understand and embrace the change.

Supplementing the efforts of these groups are professionally designed materials and posters—in some cases, hundreds of square feet in area—to motivate individuals. These posters and signs are conspicuously placed and provide a constant visual reinforcement of process improvement results and goals.

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