If you want to Change, and make it Stick, you need a Process
- May 11, 2020
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Have you implemented something new in your team? Or made a big change in how you want to handle something? Have you made a big “Change Management” style change in your organization, or been a part of one?
Did it stick?
Odds are, that it didn’t, according to an analysis in HBR on the subject of “Making Process Improvements Stick” :
The researchers also explored whether projects that were initially successful could not only preserve the gains but also show continuous improvement—getting progressively better over time, which is the goal of many lean projects. Just 51% of them were continuing to improve a year after launch; after two years the figure dropped to 36%.
This HBR article was focused on lean projects to product process improvements. They had a good initial uptake, and produced good returns, but over time, inexorably the improvements dissipated rather than growing.
Managers said that one condition needed to keep improving was visible support from board members and senior leadership—without it, frontline workers believe that the company’s enthusiasm for the effort has waned, and backsliding ensues. They also cited the need for consistent measurement and monitoring and noted that problems arise when significant early improvements give way to diminishing returns. “Addressing the low-hanging fruit is easy; it becomes harder in the long term,” one lean champion told the researchers.
The data reinforces these observations. Projects with strong support from the head office showed 35% greater improvement after a year than ones without that support; they were also less likely to backslide, with 79% performing above baseline after a year, compared with 61% of projects not driven by the head office.
If you want to succeed where these programs failed, it isn’t enough to identify the improvements and change your manual processes.
You have to *also* implement a process in software.
Software doesn’t backslide. Software doesn’t regress to old behaviors by itself. Software doesn’t need to be motivated, or have its narrative aligned or messaging aligned. Software doesn’t care if it runs on the weekend.
Get your team together, and by all means define the better process – the better mouse trap – but then also leverage process automation software to build that new process in software. This is what will allow your team to, over time, ratchet up the efficiency of their operations by improving the software-defined process.
I believe Phil Gilbert did a really good job of explaining this in a talk he did about design not so long ago.
“The only way a company sustains anything is through process. If you’re not married to the production process, you will not survive over the long haul. you won’t survive a leadership change. You won’t survive a management change. You won’t survive a budget cut time. Unless you’re deeply embedded in the operations of the company. “
If you’re looking for ways to sustain a change in your company, let us help you leverage processes defined in software to do just that. This is what we love to do.