How to Sustain Front Line Process Improvement Activities
Our process-focused blogging friend Brad Power wrote an interesting post on our other friends from Technicolor, in their efforts to sustain the front line process improvements that were written about in All You Gotta Do is Ask. The post is titled How to Sustain Front Line Process Improvements. Here’s an excerpt:
Therefore, whether front-line improvement sticks depends on what else is competing for managers’ scarce time. Managers need to believe that spending time on nurturing front-line process improvement is worth it. Doing their own work â€” not helping the front line â€” will almost always have more incentives and be the more natural thing to do. It’s easier for managers to stay in their offices. Managers were raised as individual contributors, where they added value by solving problems themselves. Most stood out by doing things better and faster than their peers, commanding and controlling, not by coaching and helping others to solve problems.
I’ll share my comment here, since it’s buried in a fairly active comment thread:
What people need to remember is that there is no such thing as self-sustaining. Here’s a few tactical tips to be thinking about when worried about sustaining anything:
1. Mindset: always keep the why in mind. People need to know why they are doing something. If not, when they have to make a decision of whether to do the thing, or do something else, they have no criteria on which to keep doing it.
2. Process: make the right way easier or the wrong way impossible. We’re all lazy enough that if you make the right way easier and allow us to experience that, it is more likely for us to make a wholesale shift. And if we can’t make the right way easier, then we have to find a way to make the wrong way impossible.
3. Audit: Yeah, this is wasteful. But if the thing to sustain is important, then a little extra review is less waste than the process in question falling apart.
4. Don’t rely on good intentions: This is where we see solutions like “we’ll retrain everyone.” RE-train? It didn’t work the first time. It’s not likely to work again.
5. Set the example: If the thing you want to sustain is behavioral, then you must set the example by never sacrificing it. If you are seen pushing it to the background, then everyone else will as well.