Many organisations launch improvement programmes based on good intent, lots of energy and the use of some good tools and techniques. Yet too often these fail to deliver the expected long term gains.
When the reasons for these 'failures' are established, it becomes clear that there are some common themes. The most obvious is the lack of a structured implementation plan linked to a clear vision. But behind this, there is often a more deep-rooted cause; the limited understanding about the improvement process, the structure to be applied, the support required, and the 'background' tools and techniques that need to be employed.
Essentially, to deliver success this structure has to be effectively combined with knowledge about the business, its culture and requirements. But, this can only happen when the right tools are used and when those who have some of the knowledge needed for the programme, understand what is going on, its likely impact and how they can contribute.
It is vital that any major improvement programme is supported with additional training for management and directors. This ensures that even senior managers have a grounding in the new principles being taught, and understand how they can effectively support the ongoing development of the programme.
The aim of these comment pieces is to provide organisations with ideas on establishing a structured improvement programme, and discuss the key deployment phases: Where do we want to be? Where are we now? How are we going to close the gap? And how do we know when we have got there?
The items will look at who within the organisation should be involved in these phases, and review some of the vital tools and techniques that should be applied. It is crucial that companies establish a wide understanding of these tools, as their suitability must be assessed by an organisation against its requirements, while recognising that many tools often provide a starting point as well as structure to assist in subsequent phases of the improvement programme.
Kevin Bennett is a lecturer with Smallpeice Enterprises, Tel: 01926 336 423