“The Reasons Why Many Change Programmes Fail”

Part 6

A Legacy of Previous Change

This month I’m looking at another reason why significant change programmes fail. That is where organisations have tackled significant change programmes ineffectively and have left the business with an overriding feeling that any other change initiative won’t work next time.

We have been helping large organisations managing significant change programmes for many years and it still amazes me how many senior, intelligent people are reluctant to embark upon improvement programmes, because they have had bad experiences in the past.

The first thing to point out at this stage is… we all have to look at ourselves and our businesses and ask the question and give an honest answer.

“Was it the programme or the way we implemented it?”

I always remember a key lesson when I was a manager in Proctor and Gamble. Back in the day, we had embarked upon TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) and it had never reached the expectations that were desired. It wasn’t the programme TPM itself, but we looked at ourselves and realised it was the way we had tried to implement it.

We had fallen into the trap of “giving ownership” of TPM to the Engineering community. So, of course, it became an engineering project managed by engineers for engineers and operated within the silo of the “World of Engineering”.

Engineers are highly skilled and a highly respected part of a manufacturing community and do a great job of running and leading maintenance programmes and design projects for production equipment of its infrastructure…but “Engineering Thinking”, logical and pragmatic, isn’t always appropriate for shifting the thinking of the masses.

The diagram shows that failure is rarely a complete failure (blue line), but more a peak and then dip to some gains (yellow line), but nowhere near that transformation the programme should have been (green line).

We went back to the drawing board, employed the Japanese Institute of Plant Management (JIPM) to train and coach us and to my amazement we completely redesigned the programme. We called it Integrated Work Systems and immediately started to engage the whole workforce. The rest is history and IWS is still the process that encapsulates all initiatives and improvement across the total organisation.

Incidentally, I was an internal consultant that pioneered IWS and we at NewLeaf International use many of the lessons learnt in those days!

Symptoms of a bad legacy of change.

Below is a list of the top symptoms we see when previous programmes haven’t reach their full potential?

These are all real experiences.

1. Change for the wrong reason. A CEO wanted to implement a productive improvement initiative to reassure customers that the business was in great shape and focused on quality. A great idea, but the 3000 employees engaged in the programme, didn’t understand the need.

2. Poor Leadership Control. The senior managers agree and sanction a programme of improvement and then sit back and expect the rest of the workforce to implement changes and think differently, but don’t see the importance of being involved themselves and leading by example.

3. Lack of focus. The new initiative is one of many and not designed to “integrate” into the existing programme. Ideally, like P&G they should have had one umbrella programme to capture all improvements

4. Realistic timescales. There are many examples of companies trying to run significant programmes over a one year timescale. This is usually created by budgets being driven annually. Significant programmes take a minimum of 18 months to implement the processes and 18 months to embed and sustain

5. Pitching the programme at the wrong level in the business. This happens a lot. Complex programmes of projects and development of new skills to problem solve complex issues, but most of the workforce, including most managers are drowning in day to day simple problems.

6. Owned by the wrong leaders. Like in the introduction, if a programme is resourced by Engineers it will be an Engineering programme, likewise, accountants, IT experts etc. Silos need to be broken down. Significant programmes, need a cross functional team of senior managers acting as a steering team. Too often programmes are left to one group of people.

If you would like to know more about how NewLeaf International helps organisations with Business Improvement and significant Organisational Development programmes, please make contact for an informal chat.

Martin Gummery, Managing Director, NewLeaf International Ltd

Tel: 01905 425209

Email: headoffice@newleafinter.co.uk