Management: Continually Improve the Process
Last month's column said managers must eliminate process interference
factors, but successful managers also search for better ways of doing
things. They are not content to simply fight fires and manage crises;
they improve the process by implanting productive change.
Implementing process change is often difficult. Managers of change may
hear such killer phrases as "We've always done it this way," or "If it
ain't broke, don't fix it." Combat these attitudes by putting "it" in
perspective. Find examples of how we once believed something would never
work, but we were wrong. Agree that the old way was good for its time, but
give concrete facts and examples of how conditions have changed. Show how
the basic assumptions of doing business have changed.
People need to understand their part in implementing change and how
they will fit into the organization after change occurs. This last point
is important because those people who help implement change and know their
role after the change more likely will be supportive of the change and
work to make it happen.
Where do managers get the ideas for change? While they may generate
ideas themselves or get them from reading trade journals or from others
who manage similar processes, they often come from their own
subordinates—the people they manage. Managers can (and should) learn from
subordinates. Then they should put the best ideas into practice to
continually improve the process.