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The status quo is more dangerous than the change, doing nothing is risking the financial strength and longevity of the organisation
There is always a good reason to do nothing.
We’ve always done it this way… Change will take time and that’s something we haven’t got when we are already rushed off our feet… I don’t see the point of… The customer/supplier/market won’t like it… If we change this we will also have to change all of these other processes…
And so on, and so on! But what if I were to tell you that the status quo is actually more dangerous than the change, that doing nothing is risking the financial strength and longevity of the organisation? Would that be sufficient reason to take a fresh look at processes and procedures, at behaviours and attitudes?
It had better be! Or, to put it another way, if you genuinely believe that no argument I could put forward would persuade you to look again at your business and its products then really you shouldn’t be in a position of leadership. Customer needs change, the marketplace changes, technology changes and unless businesses are prepared to change as well then their only future is an increasing irrelevance.
Having said that, I admit it is hard to move away from entrenched process. There was once a good reason for doing what you do. Maybe you had to add an extra step to meet the demands of a major customer or changing regulatory requirements. Perhaps one individual was struggling so you introduced an extra sign-off layer. There may have been a time when your desire to be cutting edge took you ahead of the available technology but manual work-arounds helped you to deliver to the limit of your ambition.
But whatever the reason then, there is no excuse to carry on piling complexity on top of process now. Not only are you risking your business becoming increasingly out of step with the rest of the marketplace which has invested in new methodologies and technology; there is also a grave danger that with your people being bogged down in process they forget to join the dots. As a result gaps appear and processes start to fail. Before you know it your people are increasingly under pressure as they seek to remedy problems, customer service starts to fall away, wastage rises and the business is in visible trouble.
What is the answer? The first step is simply to put yourself outside of the day-to-day and to ask the simple why questions. In any transformation knowing where you are at the start is key to designing a pathway to success. By asking why, by inviting explanation and an open review of processes you may be surprised at what you find.
More importantly, work with your team to move away from ‘we can’t do because’ and towards ‘this is how we can’ and you may find that you can transform not only product delivery but also customer excellence. The golden rule here is not to wait until you have completed your investigations before you take any actions. If you’ve identified the need for change, if you’ve identified potential pathways for change then instigate change immediately.
Not only will this drive the message home to your people that you are sincere about streamlining the processes it will also encourage them to look around and come up with further ideas. Before you know it you’ll be well on your way to building a culture of innovation. Is that a step too far? Absolutely not! Innovation isn’t simply about products and services, true cultures of innovation permeate the entire organisation and encourage people to look for improvements at every level. So by asking the question, by being open and looking for improvement you have already taken your first steps to innovation.
It won’t be easy. There will be times when you come across a process which can only be transformed if you invest in new technology and that requires a cost/benefit judgement call. But there will also be times when engaging your employees in a can-do attitude can have far-reaching consequences way beyond the immediate. The more you encourage them to question, the more you empower them to explore alternatives, the sooner you remove your culture away from entrenched process and towards one of innovation and action.
There is always a good reason to do nothing. But there are infinitely more reasons to do something which will benefit profitability, productivity, reputation and investability. Are you ready to move from entrenched process to can do? Take the first step today.