Embracing Change for Improvement

As a decision maker committed to reducing waste through leading continuous improvement thinking and practices in your organisation, you will be embracing change on a daily basis.

Change means risk to many people and there are several pitfalls and challenges that go hand in hand with change.  However, you can avoid these if you are willing to risk disturbing your own comfort levels when choosing to change.

Listed below are a few challenges that you should consider when making a changes for continuous improvement:

It will become necessary to defend yourself against traditional ways of thinking.  “We’ve always done it that way”.  You may have to do without approval from fellow workers for a time.  You may also encounter resistance, especially if you are young or new at the job.  Not only do some people instinctively resist chance, they may tell you that they are unable to learn a new procedure or change an old habit.  When you believe in your decision to change something, simply reinforce the need to change and the benefits of the change.  Remain calm and unemotional, but determined.  Be confident and lead by example.

People will be more likely to accept change when they see you embracing it with enthusiasm.  When they see you are thriving in a change environment, they will be more willing to take risks associated with a given change.  Let your team members know that change is inevitable.  Reassure them that both you and your organisation are committed to positive and proactive change for improvement.

Sometimes when seeing the extent of the changes required, it can seem completely overwhelming.  Often the overall change cannot be made in one easy step.  Usually multiple stages of change happen concurrently or in gradual steps and it is easy to forget that in life we rarely make the entire change in one attempt.  One of the best ways forward is to break larger continuous improvement projects down into smaller projects or action steps that can be embraced one at a time.  As a guiding rule – “For most people it is easier to embrace change when that change is gradual.”

Don’t be afraid to try new ideas or processes.  However, if you fail, fail in a correct way.  In many productive environments, people don’t understand the value of trying and failing.  This is unfortunate because failure, when done properly can be a good thing.  The correct way to fail means approaching change correctly, doing it quickly, at a low cost and never the same way twice.  You don’t want to have too much money or time hinging on any one change initiative.  If you do, then failure can be harmful, taking time and money away from other opportunities.  Testing your process on smaller scale projects allows for the risks to be lessened and the flow on effect to other areas to be reduced.  Don’t forget to learn from your failures so that you don’t repeat them in the future.

Change IS necessary and it’s NOT evil.  Lean to love it and you will be in a great position to succeed.  Leadership Management Australia has a variety of complementary resources which can be used to help support any change environment.