Overcoming Barriers to Operational Change

rganizational Transformation, Continuous Improvement, Human Resistance, Organizational Improvement, Operational Excellence, Consulting, MetaExperts, Michigan

Leadership turnover can be the first item that is detrimental to positive operational change. Leadership turnover can be seen as an opportunity to derail any program or project implementation

Beyond natural human resistance there are three huge barriers to improvement in our organizations. Recognizing these barriers and knowing some ways to overcome them makes operational improvement much simpler and effective.

Leadership turnover can be the first item that is detrimental to positive operational change. Leadership turnover can be seen as an opportunity to derail any program or project implementation. The next leader in line often has a different agenda from the old one. Secretly, most middle managers pray for a new boss and a new agenda before they have to actually change anything. Continuity during any leadership changeovers that occur during implementation of any process change is vital.

An ongoing 5S audit program is a great way to stay on top of this, regardless of leadership changes. 5S workplace organization is one of the first things that many do during a world-class operational improvement implementation. From a program such as this, a top-down mandate is achieved period-over-period no matter the leadership. It also provides a basis for appraisals and job descriptions that contain specific actionable requirements which provides for excellent continuity of leadership.

Another barrier to improvement is traditional accounting and the metrics involved. It is important to remember that what gets measured gets done. When people can see hard proof of the results of their efforts, they comply with the mandate. That’s the good news. The bad news is that traditional accounting is obsolete. Despite the amazing changes we have seen in areas such as manufacturing over just the past ten years, accounting is still being done fundamentally the same way as it was 150 years ago.

Organizations need to rethink some of their metrics and measurement systems to provide an accurate picture of the modern business strategies and systems employed in todays pursuit of operational success.A  Exploring and learning lean accounting and value stream accounting are a great way to overcome this barrier. These programs show the important metrics and measurements it makes sense to see in an organization involved in improvement change.

Lastly, there is a huge lack of urgency for change in organizations. In many cases this is the crux of the problem. Change is often implemented piecemeal, hesitantly, or half-heartedly. Leadership often communicates the idea of change, but without the sense of urgency to get it done and get it done now. They must instill this sense of importance in the people of their organization.

Two things seem to cause enough urgency for change to happen quickly: threats and visionary, dynamic leaders. Threats from the outside in the form of competition and pressure from customers go a long way toward getting everyones attention and driving them to make change happen quickly. A Survival in the marketplace can be huge motivation to a team.

Without this sort of immediate clear and present danger, the next best source for change is the visionary and dynamic leader with the horsepower and support to drive change throughout the entire organization. The development of leaders of this caliber is a monumental task in the future change and success of any organization. Providing the tools and skills needed to all leadership levels in different methodologies, teambuilding and other management techniques is a huge benefit. It is an investment that will payout handsomely in the future.

There are many barriers to the success of any organization when it comes to implementing change. It is hoped that some of these examples along with further training and further development of an organization’s people can smooth the way for the changes required for a world-class implementation and eventually a world-class operation.

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Discover the key to successful Organizational Transformation. Join Operational Excellence Thought Leader & Keynote Speaker Ron Crabtree on Wednesday, February 19 12 Noon EST.

Overcoming Barriers To Organizational Transformation

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/256312226

 

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Top Leader Commitment and Outside Consultation Make a Huge Difference

MetaOps Inc. is currently conducting interviews for a new book. The purpose of the interviews is to uncover how CEOs / top leaders use process improvement methods as a tool to drive their strategic objectives. The interviewing process is about 25% completed with consultants as well as internal organizational consultants. These changes in process improvement are across organizations of all sizes.

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When a CoE or the process improvement team is buried within the organization and doesn’t have the commitment from the top leaders, employees know and their support goes out the window

When a CoE or the process improvement team is buried within the organization and doesn’t have the commitment from the top leaders, employees know and their support goes out the window

The preliminary results identify one thing that seems true among all organizations. CEO’s and organizational leadership that brings in outside consultants tend to get better results than what is supplied by internal consultants. It is being revealed during these interviews that the skill set is not different between the outside consultant and internal consultant. What is being found is that the success is driven right back to the leadership and their engagement in the initiative. It seems the external consultants are more successful in getting the top leaders to engage more effectively in transformation efforts at a personal level than the internal consultants.

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The interviews are also finding that nine times out of 10 organizations are putting their Centers of Excellence (CoE’s) and process improvement departments inside the organization several layers below the CEO and leadership teams. When structured in this manner, results are consistently less than stellar. It has nothing to do with the skill of the individuals in the organization. It has to do with their being insulated from the CEO and key leadership who drive the vision of the organization.

To the people of the organization burying this key component under many layers appears as insincerity on the top executives’ part. When a CoE or the process improvement team is buried within the organization and doesn’t have the commitment from the top leaders, employees know and their support goes out the window.

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Outside consultants can be very helpful to the highly-skilled internal process improvement specialist. They can help bridge the gap between the top leaders and the internal team. This can be a cost effective way to maximize the resources in which the organization has already invested. In most cases, the knowledge provided by internal specialist combined with the skill of outside consultants can help immensely with a successful operational transformation.

Connect with us in LinkedIn:

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Three Key Factors for Leaders to Remember

Leaders must provide ways in which the employees are allowed to experience “insights’ at a personal level.

Leaders must provide ways in which the employees are allowed to experience “insights’ at a personal level.

Here are 3 key factors for any leader desiring a change in their organization to remember These actions are critical in any transformation.

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First, leaders must recognize that the power of a plan or vision comes from the people understanding and adopting it. But, contrary to what many believe just having that ‘compelling vision’ is clearly not enough alone. Where things fall short is often the result of a combination of factors, including the inability of the leaders to demonstrate their commitment to employees.

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Over-delegating and falling victim to magic ‘silver bullet’ cures fail to drive the proper communication throughout the organization. In addition, the necessity to convey the vision/strategy/plan to win both understanding and buy-in of all in the organization is paramount.

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Second, employees will see through any in-sincere and / or lack of leadership commitment. It’s necessary for executives to truly commit to personal leadership of a change initiative. Without the top leaders showing the right level of personal commitment it is nearly impossible to expect the next level of leaders to do so. This idea cascades down from there building a culture in the organization.

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Third, leaders must provide ways in which the employees (ie. The people who must adopt change) are allowed to experience “insights’ at a personal level. Not only must the vision be understood and seen as important by the CEO, that person must also experience the vision on a personal basis. This will facilitate the adoption of new lines of thinking by all.

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Upon reflection, the last point here is the ‘secret sauce’ that we never learn about in management school and are missing in all the ‘transformation models.’ In the cases of most the successes the top leader or CEO is the difference maker. By making the process personal in a genuine way, everyone in the organization understood.

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It is very important to think critically about how the ‘personal touch’ can be accomplished on the part of the top-most leaders. As with anything else in organizations, there is no silver bullet cure for success. However, the absence of these key inputs correlates highly with failure. At the end of the day organizations are made of people. Winning their hearts to fully embrace the vision of the organization and embrace change is decidedly a personal decision and builds a successful culture.

Connect with us in LinkedIn: .

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

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Gaining Operational Excellence in Distribution Centers

Recording and Tracking what we think is the right data only to find that we are not making any progress - metrics alone aren't nearly enough

Recording and Tracking what we think is the right data only to find that we are not making any progress – metrics alone aren’t nearly enough

In distribution centers across industries and encompassing different products we are told that operational transformation processes just won’t work. A successful process being used by an organization often comes to a grinding halt when it reaches the distribution area. Often distribution centers won’t even tackle the process. We are simply told that DCs are entirely different animals.

It seems that normal processes don’t apply in these areas due to the variations encountered day-to-day in many distribution functions. Numerous things might be being accomplished at one time by many different people working on their own. Developing a team culture of operational excellence in distribution centers or distribution areas of any organization can be what appears as an insurmountable task.

Many times it is found that organizations who have tried changing to gain improvement in distribution operations encounter failure. Something is wrong, the poor outcomes can be easily identified, but the root cause is just out of reach. Distribution centers often record and track what they think is the right data only to find that they are not making any progress – metrics alone aren’t nearly enough.

You can learn the key factors to DC success in our webinar “How to Set the Right Metrics to Produce the Right Outcome in your Distribution Centers”. In it you gain the knowledge to be successful in your transformation journey by learning to:

– Identify the different metrics that are tied to improvement goals
– How to use metrics to find the root cause of poor performance
– Identify which metrics are trailing indicators of performance

In this webinar we will share key tactics to add to your leadership skills in this area:

– Methods from Lean Six Sigma tools that can be incorporated with existing DC metrics
– A meaningful metric that directly solves the main root causes of poor outcome
– Finding the right leading indicators

In this webinar we can discover together the keys to improving performance and output. Join us on Wednesday, November 27.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
12 noon EDT | 11am CDT |
10am MDT | 9am PDT

Register here: “How to Set the Right Metrics to Produce the Right Outcome in your Distribution Centers”

Connect with us in LinkedIn:

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Drill-Down into Critical Processes for Gold Opportunities

call center improvement, call center consultant, operational excellence, contact center performance, contact center innovation

Methods to drill-down to the critical few processes that yield 80% of the GOLD opportunity.

Call centers are very dependent on robust processes, carefully designed and standardized to create a smooth work flow and consistent result. What happens when those processes break down, or worse yet, were never designed to work smoothly in the first place?

Leadership in the call center operations is the first place you should look when your critical processes aren’t up to your expectations. Once you have identified the key roles and the organizational structure of your call center operations, you can begin looking at the relationships forged between front line staff and management.

How are the lines of communication in your call center? I’m not talking about communication between the organization and its customers’ at least, not yet. Here, you need to focus on the communication styles and skills within the organization. How are issues escalated to higher-ups? What is the turn-around time on management responses and input?

Now it’s time to look at the micro-management situation within your organization. Do your call center employees have an adequate amount of authority to handle day-to-day issues and situations? If micro-management is a problem, it’s time to invest in training your managers how to delegate, evaluate and motivate employees, rather than constantly looking over their shoulders.

By mapping out the most usual and typical processes in your call center, you can more easily identify where the process is breaking down, where it is succeeding and where it could stand to be improved or modified in some way. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to monitor and analyze the results of your improvements; not all “first pass” fixes are the best solution for the given situation. There should always be a process in place to implement new and better processes as they are determined and identified.

If you have an interest in learning more on the methods to uncover opportunities within a Contact Center and Organization-Wide that quickly convert to GOLD, join me for my webinar Mining Your Contact Center for GOLD.

Here is the registration link: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/868286626

 

 

Connect with us in LinkedIn:

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

 

Why Can’t Organizations Keep High-Performing Teams Working Consistently?

Having mentored hundreds of high-performing teams over the years, I have seen great successes. Unfortunately, I have also seen far too many failures. Obviously, my experiences bring up a big question: “Why is it that many organizations can’t consistently keep high-performing teams working in all areas?” Typically, the answer comes down to just a few basic reasons.

High-Performing teams, problem solving activities, performance management, operational excellence

Sometimes, team leaders set the team up for failure right from the very beginning

The first reason can be found behind the scenes when top management is not a believer in high-performing teams. If the organization’s leaders subscribe to more of a “theory X-type” style of management, as opposed to a more participative “theory-Y style” of leadership, the team members will not believe in their own abilities or performance. The worst type of manager is the one that listens to ideas and then tells the team what to do. This is a fatal step to take with a team and guarantees they will not reach the status of “high-performing.”

Another situation that hinders teams is the creation of a team that is either too small or too large. Three members or fewer creates the problem of no diversity and limited resources. Seven members is typically ideal for most projects. Teams with more than ten members start to be a problem because it’s too hard to keep everyone in-tune.

Sometimes, team leaders set the team up for failure right from the very beginning. This can happen due to several issues. For example, if a leader loads the team up with too many of one personality type, that team will struggle. To avoid this scenario, pick the personality profiling tool you like best and then try to select team members who bring different strengths and weaknesses. This may sound counter-intuitive on the surface, but it really does matter.

Unrealistic expectations can also shoot your high-performing team in the foot, whether those expectations are too low or too high. If given no or very low expectations, the team will go nowhere. Conversely, tasking the members with real or perceived expectations that can’t be met defeats and demoralizes the team before they can even begin. Finally, the team leader or facilitator may be the reason why the team fails.

Oftentimes, management is unable or does not know how to support the team. Either through not providing enough guidance, resources or support of good decisions, a team leader can destroy the chances of creating a high-performing team through inaction. Additionally, management that fails to give the right kind of leadership to the team guarantees a wasted effort.

Through establishing the correct size for your team, carefully selecting your members, providing measurable and realistic expectations for all involved, and effective team leadership, your organization can foster high-performing teams across all functional areas. If your organization is struggling to create high-performing teams, put these suggestions to the test and you will begin to see real results.

If you have an interest in learning more how the Code of Conduct can transform teams, join me for my webinar 3 tactics REVEALED to Crack the CODE on High-Performing Teams.  Here’s the registration link:

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/195092330

Connect with us in LinkedIn:

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Leading High Performing Teams

The single most important skill you must have to be an effective leader of high-performing teams is understanding that your role is always situational. You may already be aware of the theory of a four-phase development for teams: forming, storming, norming and performing. While that theory will go far toward helping you learn to lead a high-performing team, it isn’t the only information that you need to do well.

The Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model, which states that leadership styles must change for people depending on their level of competence for the task at hand, is also very useful. People and teams of people exhibit the same kinds of behavior with respect to a task assigned. As mentioned above, these behaviors shift through four defined phases. What most leaders fail to understand is the type of leadership behavior needed for each phase. The most critical phases for leaders to establish a team culture are the “forming” and “storming” phases.

Phase 1 – Forming the Team

High-Performing teams, problem solving activities, performance management, operational excellence

Your role as a leader in HPT is always – SITUATIONAL

During the first phase, members of the team may be unwilling, insecure or unsure how to do the task. That means that the leader’s behavior must be very directive. Team leaders must be very prescriptive and almost dominating in directing the team as they get started. They must accelerate the members through the “forming” process and get them oriented as quickly as possible.

Tell them what the team will do, show them the steps to take, and then figuratively hold their hands as they start the tasks. Close supervision and providing a substantial amount of feedback on how they are doing is essential during this phase, just as if training a new employee on a job he or she has never done before.  Finally, make no assumptions until the team proves they are ready to move on as a cohesive group.

Phase 2 – Storming Development

In the second phase of the model, people on the team are beginning get committed, seem to be “getting it,” but may still be reluctant. Members may also be working through developing their relationships and trust with each other on the team.

The manager’s role shifts from being directive to helping people build relationships. He or she also needs to focus on getting members emotionally involved with the purpose of the team. Think of the leader as a salesperson asking a lot of questions, helping the team break down their disagreements and finding compromises with which the entire team can move forward.

Leaders should directly reinforce the kinds of “norming” behaviors they want and allow the individuals to begin taking on some responsibility for tasks as they demonstrate their ability to do so. A “team progress check” is appropriate at this juncture.

During the final two stages, norming and performing, team leaders will eventually be able to step back from the team, delegate more, and function as a resource for the team. When led successfully through the first two phases, your team will earn the title of “high-performing” and will have gained knowledge and expertise that will continue to work for the organization in the future.

Share your experience with these four phases that teams go through.  If you have some interesting story to share about how you handled a situation, I’m sure my readers would enjoy hearing.  Just comment below.

Here’s an FYI – I’ll be hosting a webinar on the 3 tactics REVEALED to Crack the CODE on High-Performing Teams.  You might find it interesting.  Here’s the registration link and more details about the content.

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/195092330

Connect with us in LinkedIn: .

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Call Center Improvement: How Your Call Center Can Be Your Best – Early Warning System; Your Canary™ in Your Coal Mine

Before the advent of modern solutions to detect harmful gases, workers used small birds like canaries when they explored or excavated deep mines. Because canaries are more sensitive to the danger of asphyxiation, the miners knew that they were safe as long as the birds still lived. In much the same fashion, you can use data mined from your organization’s call center as your own “canary.” This allows your call center to function as an early warning system and let you know when there’s a problem to address.

It’s no longer sufficient to simply meet or even exceed your customers’ expectations. When you’re facing tough competition or

Call Center Improvement: Canaries are known as an early warning sign.

Call Center Improvement: Canaries are known as an early warning sign.

significant waste, you need to learn ways to delight your customers with the products and services you offer. That’s where your call center comes in. One of the easiest ways to add value is to reduce your waste and variation in performance.

Before we explore the call center, however, let’s look at the definitions for three commonly used “but often ambiguous” terms: waste, opportunity and added value. Waste can be defined as “resources or efforts beyond the minimum required to satisfy a customer’s perceived value.” Opportunity, on the other hand, can be defined as any value-generating activity that’s not currently being employed. Finally, what do we consider “added value?” Here it’s important to understand that the customer determines the value; that means that adding value involves any activity performed for which your customer is willing to pay. That can apply to service after the sale or just a better designed product.

Waste is commonly found in call centers, especially when your employees are provided incomplete or poorly organized

information. Any time spent in looking up answers or waiting for responses from others is waste. Waste is also found in mistakes in information given. Any work that needs to be fixed on redone detracts from the service your call center employees are able to offer. The same can be said for communication breakdowns and misunderstandings between employees and management.

Now let’s talk about how to implement your “canary in the coal mine” system. To begin, you’ll need to evaluate your inbound and outbound call statistics, taking special note of several key factors. Can you predict the spikes in your inbound call volume? Is there one or more particular issues that receive more calls than others? Has your inbound call volume dropped sharply? The answers to these questions will give you a good place to start looking for opportunities to eliminate waste and variation. Your outbound call statistics should also be monitored, looking for calls that are not related to closing a sale, converting trial customers or courtesy follow-up calls.

Finally, it’s important to understand that most inbound call center calls are out of the control of the call center itself. Tracking the reasons behind these calls will likely identify areas of service or issues with your products that you can address to further eradicate waste and variation. Whether you choose to implement a process improvement system or just improve upon the one already in place, your call center holds the information you need to effectively create operational excellence throughout your organization.

If you’d like more details on this subject join us for a free 55 minute webinar May 30, 2013.

Find out how to mine your call center for gold.

Register here.

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Connect with us in LinkedIn:

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

 

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