The diagram shows the basic steps that should be followed when implementing an initiative within an organisation. Regardless of the size of initiative, a relatively small system implementation or a full-blown cultural organisational “Transformational Change” Programme, the basic steps are the same.
There are many situations where initiatives are stuck at different stages in this model. We have examples where an initiative has worked at the conceptual stage and leaders and managers, usually at a senior level, believe that the initiative is implemented just by talking about it and expecting others to “just to do it”!
We see other examples where there is very little conceptual thinking and organisations go straight into the implementation phase, in task mode, without ensuring that the initiative is launched and sold effectively beforehand.
The following notes highlight the steps required in three fundamental stages.
- Conceptual Phase
- Implementation Phase
- Sustain Phase
In the conceptual phase there should be rigour and discipline to construct careful ideas and then turn it them into fully agreed initiatives to be implemented. Constructed ideas need to be formed into a plan. There are examples where some managers think they have a plan because they have an idea, but it’s not really a plan. If it’s not written down on paper and is not in a format that can be easily shared and discussed.
With the idea drafted it can then be shared with people in an informal manner. This is to gain good feedback on the initiative. This is a healthy step in the early part of an initiative. However, some managers resist this idea, in case they are confronted with obstacles. But it’s better for those obstacles to be discussed sooner rather than later in the implementation.
Once ideas are shared and redrafted, a formal presentation is a good process to construct the final ideas and get final constructive feedback. This must be done with seniors who will at some point become sponsors of the initiative and also with peers who inevitably will be supporters and/or stakeholders in any implementation.
The principle of involving as many people as possible is key and should be made common practice. All too often good people with great ideas sit in an office for weeks and months designing how best to implement a great initiative, but during implementation it fails, purely because of the lack of involvement and understanding of others.
Before locking yourself away in a darkened room you need to share and involve others in this work on a regular basis. If you’re a manager who is actually implementing everything within the initiative you have the fundamentals wrong! Successful implementation involves other coaching, training and supporting others, otherwise it’s not going to be the “organisation’s initiative.” Unfortunately, it’s going to be “the manager’s idea”, which in the long term will never work successfully.
Implementation for larger initiatives must be in phases with the first phase being a pilot stage, so all learning, both good and bad, can be adjusted for rolling out to other parts of the business.
With a large initiative, the organisation should form a “Chartered Team” to lead and steer the process. A good chartered team will have an identified scope, measures of success, clearly designed outcomes, a step-by-step approach and scheduled regular reviews and meetings.
Sustainability and continuous improvement is a process within itself. All too often we meet managers who believe that a very good implementation will lead to the initiative sticking in the business. Sadly this is rarely the case. Often a well implemented initiative that lacks the sustainability phase will not last and will fade away.
Often new initiatives are brought into business because other initiatives have failed to stick. Ironically an organisation goes round and round in circles aiming to achieve the same business results often with different initiatives because the last one failed!.
Sustainability processes are systems that need to be implemented, whilst the initiative itself is being bedded in.
Examples of sustainability processes are:
- senior management involvement
- good communication processes both formal and informal
- regular reviews at all levels with measures of success
- initiative objectives integrated into appraisals and performance measures
- on boarding training for new employees
- refresher training for existing employees
- self-audits at various levels to ensure the planned activities are still happening.
Throughout the model “new thinking” is required amongst the key people leading the initiative as well as the employees implementing it. If businesses don’t encourage and create new thinking, initiatives will be implemented in the same way as they always have been. Sadly, if an initiative failed in the past the new initiative will fail again.
It’s ironic but true, we meet many people in organisations who have implemented well tried and tested initiatives, such as TPM, LEAN, JIT, WCM but failed and then reviewed and blamed the initiative instead of the way it was implemented. Must be one of those signs of madness, surely?
New thinking is paramount to the success of an initiative and people in organisations must realise that they have a certain cultural way of thinking and that thinking may not be suitable for the initiative they are going to implement. This doesn’t mean the initiative is wrong, but it does mean they have to think differently. For example an organisation that is steeped in excellent project management and years of developing skills associated with project management, won’t necessarily make good change management implementers. That is because it requires a different sort of thinking to implement the step-by-step project tasks to taking hundreds of employees into a direction they’ve never been before, which is Transformational Change.
We specialise in the implementation and the training and coaching of people involved in Transformational Change.
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email@example.com or 01905 425209
Martin Gummery, Managing Director, NewLeaf International Ltd