Image for  "How to create a culture of improvement this autumn?"

How to create a culture of improvement this autumn?

In a week or so, the wheels will be in full spin as usual. Everyone has returned from holiday and the situation is returning to normal. The only difference is that many of us are a little more tanned and look more rested than usual.

Time to look ahead

Isn’t it time to take a look at your approach to improvement? How you can really capture all the good ideas for improvement in your business. And not only that, but how you ensure that you implement the desired improvements.

Because this is where many people fall short, unfortunately. Many people go around talking about improvements that they “should do” and that they want. But it stops there. There will be no more.

I read an article that describes that more than 80% of things that the management team wants to push through, never get done. That’s a bit strong, isn’t it?

To succeed in improvement management and the improvements you want to see, you have to have improvement in the culture. To have continuous improvement as part of your culture, you need to actively put it in there. Because it doesn’t happen by itself.

Culture exists in a business, whether you like it or not. It’s not something you choose if you want it. But that doesn’t mean the culture is good for the business and you who work in it.

Influencing your culture

You can control the culture you want in your business and organisation.

  • Should it be full of whining and blaming others – or should we take responsibility for our own delivery and openly discuss things that go wrong?
  • Should it be unstructured and everyone does a bit as they always have done – or should we have a common structure where everyone knows where it happens, when it happens and who does what?
  • Should it be a big “us and them” where “we” are always better than “them” – or should we have a common view of how we create value and then work together.
  • Should we tolerate not feeling well – or should we feel that our work gives us energy.

To make improvement part of the culture of your business and organisation, you need to actively put it there. It is not something that happens by itself.

Only an active and focused effort to embed improvement as part of the culture will work. It becomes even more important if you have a culture that contains the negative elements I mentioned above.

Improvement work is hard

Improvement is “hard” because it means we have to change. Any change of situation is laborious. That’s why we need to actively create a culture of improvement.

Unfortunately, many times it’s not just adding improvement work into your culture. It may require you to also push aside a negative culture that is already there. That is, the new, more positive culture you want will replace a negative culture.

Now that it is almost time to start the autumn work, I suggest that you also take the opportunity to make these positive changes.

Three tips to get you started

To get your improvement work going again in August, here are three tips. We keep it simple with the goal of starting to turn the culture of the organisation around.

Start by planning and organising your improvement work. Check out the Shaper of Business Excellence methodology and its first phase, for guidance on each step that creates a solid improvement plan. (Let me know and I’ll go through them with you.)
Also ensure that improvement work is a standing item on the management team’s agenda.
Also make sure that you have improvement work as a standing item at your staff meetings.

The first point is to show that you are serious and that there is a plan. With a plan, everyone will be able to understand what you are aiming for and the order in which you will work on improvements in a structured way. If there is a plan, there is something to follow up.

The other two points are intended to raise the term improvement work to a higher level in the organisation. That’s where you talk about improvements.

If improvement work is on the agenda of the management team, it is clear that senior management will demand results on an ongoing basis. It then drives the important work just by the interest and constant questions about how it is going. As a manager, you need to be patient here; your sustained interest in improvement will pay off.

The third point is to clearly signal to the whole organisation that improvement is natural and should be part of your daily activities. As management, you need to show the plan and where you are in relation to it. It sends an important signal that will change your culture for the better.

No quick fix

This is not a quick fix, because it’s not culture change. Getting better takes time. But don’t let that stop you.

Remember that we tend to overestimate the time it takes to push through change, but once it takes root we underestimate the time it takes to have an impact. That is to say, it takes time at first, but then it goes away once you’ve managed to make the improvement work part of your daily routine.

How would you increase the momentum of your improvement efforts? What activities would you need to do to take the next step?

Please get back to me and let me know what you think.

And you know, if you need any advice along the way, just pick up the phone or email me. With no obligation on your part. If I can help, I’d be happy to.

You can reach me at 070-528 52 61.

Until next time, I hope you continue to have a great transition between July and August.