Brad Power offers a parable in avoiding catastrophic failures in process improvement

Avoiding Catastrophic Failures in Process Improvement - Brad Power

Brad Power:

When the company declared its "reengineering success" and the publicity machine ramped up, it had a new business model on paper — a process blueprint, a series of cultural changes under way, and a pilot of the new business model just starting. These were all good things and to be expected after investing many millions of dollars on people, systems, and consultants. But questions soon emerged: How do we know the model will work? What's it worth? Where's the economic model, and when do we make money at this?

In process improvement programs, when things get tough it ALWAYS comes back to money: How do we make money from these process changes? What kind of return can shareholders expect, and when? In this case, the answers were not there, the effort was stopped, and a new management team took over.

Fascinating post from Power this morning -- it's a case in the form of a parable that offers us a chance to think critically about the mistakes we make in change initiatives. He's bullish on finance, which is always music to our ears. Bringing the finance organization in on major change projects tends to have what we see as a sobering effect on planning (rather than a chilling effect, as some team members have, at times, asserted). Finance is about practicality, feasibility, reality -- just what big change needs to succeed,

So it's a matter of nuance that we'd update Brad's argument to this: In process improvement programs, when things get tough it always comes back to results: how do we measure the results of these process changes?

Results may in fact be money. But it may not. One of the best lessons we can take away from today's post is to consider very carefully how we define the projected results of our efforts, how we measure and track results, and how we communicate our results to stakeholders.

Another terrific post from Power that is worth your consideration this morning.