How often do managers ask their people about what goes wrong in their company’s processes? And how often do they listen to what they say? Let’s be honest -we ask fairly often but do we listen? Do we respect what our people tell us or do we know it better?
In my company we continuously work on process improvements. We are not Toyota and we could do a lot better in what we do. But we know how important continuous improvement is. We use the practical process improvement approach (PPI) as it is very easy to learn on different levels. We have teams of employees working in the PPI projects for a short time and then bring the results back into their departments to implement. The system is in the core of the company and you can’t work for us without knowing something about PPI. And yet, we have plenty of broken processes and plenty of employees who are frightened of process improvements. Clearly something goes wrong.
PPI is not just a way of improving processes. To do it right you need a whole new mindset. The managers must accept that their teams come up with projects and solutions they would not have prioritised. Employees must accept that it is in their responsibility to identify broken processes and to make changes. When I began to discuss process changes with my team our standup meetings lastet at least half an hour and I ended up with a huge list of action items every day. I respected my team and did everything to make their work easier. And their wishlist got longer and longer.
Some time ago I decided that I would not survive this for long.