Change culture is the driving force in process improvement initiatives. The culture must support the fundamental ideology behind the reason for an organization to exist. And as we all know, every organization exists to fulfill customers’ needs and wants in one way or another, because they for that service.
Process improvement requires right kind of organizational culture to support it. Here are few key ingredients that you can consider while building your organization for better process improvement results:
Have genuine focus on the customer – the customer is everyone’s business, no matter what function person has in an organization. Even people in “internal roles” should be doing something that enables others to serve customers. Always seek customer satisfaction and value through fulfilling their needs. Make your employees to understand that customers will always want something, but even more important is to know what they need. Serve the cause, not the effect
Your organization needs a culture, where focus is on mastering processes from a customer-oriented perspective – Build in competitive advantage in delivering value to customers. People do what they are rewarded on, so make sure that you give out the goodies for right reasons. And you do not necessarily need to give bonuses; just pay the salary for delivering successful customer outcomes.
Have data- and fact-driven management – Clarify key measures for gauging business performance, gather the necessary data and analyze it using key variables. You get what you measure for. Build your balanced scorecard from customer-oriented perspective and make sure everyone sees and understands those results. With every KPI ask: “How does this help my customer to succeed?” That will help you to think internal matters of an organization from customer-oriented perspective. If something does not contribute to providing great customer experiences, get rid of them.
Create boundaryless collaboration culture – Break down organizational barriers to improve teamwork throughout the organization. It might be best to have truly process-oriented structure in your organization, so that everyone gets what he or she need to do provide profitable customer experiences. Do not support old-fashioned silos that prevent people from collaborating.
Require proactive management – Set goals for providing customer experiences, review them frequently, establish clear priorities and focus on problem prevention rather than resolutions after the fact. Have your people anticipate problems before they even occur. Cost of fixing a cause of problem is lower when detected earlier.
Support a drive for perfection, combined with a tolerance for failure – You must be willing to try new ideas and approaches that have some risk of failure in order to make changes leading to perfection. Just make sure that you learn from your mistakes that you will make on the way. If you cannot extract a teaching from a failure, you better stop trying. No failure is a failure, if you learn something from it; it is just a way not to do that thing (like Edison concluded while trying to create a light bulb).
These six things mentioned in this article are quite big issues to handle, but they underlie most of the successful process improvement initiatives. Which one of these cultural factors is strongest in your organization? And which one weakest?
Spend few minutes on evaluating, what can you do to strengthen the weak parts and make an action plan to do it.