For Change that Sticks, Replicate the System

My previous issue of The Leadership Report discussed how small wins can improve already good performance and help you transform your business. The day after it was published, a reader said he was “interested in knowing how small wins can lead to a more systemic, holistic shift in embedding employee engagement as a routine day-to-day continuous improvement habit for everyone.”

results that stick 300x186 - For Change that Sticks, Replicate the SystemGiven that many change efforts amount to gushing leaders chasing bright shiny objects that have little to no staying power, that’s a relevant question.

It’s important to understand that the process I described really isn’t about replicating small wins. We’re replicating a system and a way of doing work to produce better results that stick.

This system includes six levers.

  • Leadership

There needs to be clear financial and non-financial expectations of leaders. Goals must be aligned with the desired results. Leaders need to be assessed, developed and held accountable for meeting or exceeding expectations.

  • Measurement

Measurement powerfully communicates what’s important. Key performance indicators must represent the critical few that reflect the health of the business. These indicators need to be drilled down into the organization so that every employee knows how he or she can influence measures that drive its overall success.

  • Communication

A strategic story includes five information categories that lead to high performance.  The story then needs to be embedded into the operations so everyone in the organization understands how the “say communication” translates to what’s actually done. Scoreboards and regular huddling processes help to rigorously and continuously improve performance.

  • Work Processes

Organize performance improvement teams to attack specific areas of under-performance. One of our clients cut warehouse damage by 65 percent and improved productivity by 15 percent. Another cut scrap and rework by 60 per cent in a couple of weeks. These successes created momentum for much larger company-wide improvements.

  • Rewards/Recognition

Drive the behaviors that lead to success through rewards and recognition.  In one of our projects, the client’s reward system over-emphasized productivity at the expense of quality. Too much emphasis on productivity can cause people to hurry, make mistakes and inadvertently create costly scrap and rework. We adjusted the reward weightings to create better balance.

  • Learning and Development

A high priority needs to be placed on continuous learning.  People in the organization need the right skills and knowledge to perform at their peak.  In many organizations, this manifests as making sure first line leaders have the skills, knowledge and time they need to do lead.

When this system is aligned to the goals, the organization has a new and better way to do work that creates better results.  The system is not a program, it’s at the heart of the culture.   It’s a continuous improvement process that’s never ending. Organizations with this system in place brim with enthusiasm. The environment becomes electric. People are excited because they’re involved, in control of a piece of their destiny, feel valued and part of a winning team.


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