Large organisations often deliver multiple and complex services across dispersed areas. This can bring challenges when embarking on a journey of transformation or change. Lean transformation is a long-term commitment, a journey that focuses on the performance and culture of an organisation. Engaging staff in the change is critical and whilst organisations set out with the aim of creating positive change across the whole organisation, staff outside of Head Office functions can feel distanced or disengaged from the changes taking place.
Some of the main challenges
Having worked with many organisations to deliver transformational change programmes, Ad Esse has identified some common challenges:
- Change programmes are frequently managed from the centre and this can lead to regional staff feeling ‘it’s just a Head Office change programme’
- Staff/teams have a different sense of purpose, with conflicting and in some cases competing objectives and targets
- The organisation sees change as being the responsibility of, for example, an improvement team – leading to a lack of ownership and delays with implementing changes
- An ‘us and them’ culture between central support and frontline services – both sides feeling that the other doesn’t understand the challenges they face, or the contribution that they make
- Silo’s exist at multiple levels, for example, in regional localities staff in local programmes can feel distanced from a regional hub
- Communication plans are an afterthought and not sufficiently bespoke
- Even good communication initiatives to engage staff are often left ineffective because of poor technology.
How to overcome the problems
There are 5 guiding principles of Lean management, which are critical:
- Teamwork – breaking down silos and encouraging staff to work together to solve problems across functions, teams and localities
- Go and see – leaders see the facts first hand, rather than reading reports from behind a desk – carrying out process confirmation to ensure that processes, policy and agreed standards are followed
- Respect the frontline – building trust and giving those closest to the work, and often to the customer, a voice in making improvements
- Challenge the status quo – enabling and empowering staff to identify and resolve problems at their level, where nothing is sacred
- Support continuous improvement – ensuring all staff see improvement as part of their job and creating conditions for staff to improve their work.
Other key factors to consider:
When delivering change across geographically spread organisations, the following can also contribute to successful outcomes:
- Have a clear plan to engage the whole business, using a variety of communication methods and testing them out to ensure messages are getting through
- In choosing values streams to improve, select cross-cutting processes to engage the wider business
- Ensure senior leaders are visible across the whole organisation
- Provide leaders with the skills to support continuous improvement
- Share progress and success with the business.