A 12 step program to stop the reorganization Insanity!
How many reorganizations (reorgs) has your company gone through in the past five years? Some will say too many to count. It is not uncommon these days to see companies have one to three reorgs per year in various departments and even the corporation as a whole.
Below is a 12-step program to assist you in improving your company’s operational effectiveness. Let’s stop the insanity and build a plan that will be successful!
1. Admit you have a problem!
a. Many times, we know we have problems, but we don’t start the improvement process by clearly defining them. We wind up taking a “shotgun approach” and shooting in the dark, hoping to hit the mark. This rarely works. When leadership is ready to undertake an initiative as large and impactful as a reorg, ensure that it will be one of the solutions and not become just another part of the problem.
2. Understand the “true” problem and its source (Assessment)
a. If you want to truly get to the bottom of your issues, you must recognize all the gaps inside your company, departments and business units, etc.
b. An assessment provides a “cold eyes review” of your current situation and should be compared to industry best practices in order to build a gap analysis
c. Here is where another mistake can be made if you are not careful. Assessments can be too high level. We don’t ask the Subject Matter Experts (SME). Who is that, you ask? It is the personnel that live in the poor processes currently. It’s the operators that (struggle to) run your process every day. It’s those maintenance technicians that are forced into a reactive process, so we only have time to “fix it when it breaks”. It’s their supervisors that are many times, handcuffed into working with sub-prime workflow processes and systems.
d. If you want to understand the problems, you simply must ask the right people. They know what’s wrong and many times they have great ideas on how to make it better. We simply don’t ask them because “we know what needs to be done”.
3. Build strategies so people can be successful
a. Align to the mission of the organization – If you have done a good job of producing a successful assessment and now have a detailed gap analysis, you are on a much better path to addressing your opportunities for improvement. As part of this step, you should take the time to prioritize all the opportunities by performing a risk analysis on each item in order to properly prioritize them. Once again, mistakes can be made at this point. You take the proverbial “shotgun approach” and try to hit everything all at once. We call this being “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Prioritize your list and ensure that your plan is aligned to the company’s mission. If you can ensure your plan is designed with these things in mind, your chances of improving the right things at the right time is beginning to have a chance at success.
b. Design department goals and objectives that support the company mission. So, you have a high-level mission for the company. You have goals and objectives defined by Corporate leadership. We must now ensure that the plant, and or the departments being affected will use the information from the assessment gap analysis to set their own goals and objectives. In order to properly prioritize the improvement activities, they should align their plans in support of the company mission, goals and objectives. Key stakeholders should begin designing their improvement plans using a risk benefits analysis in order to assist in prioritization of activities.
c. Development of Work Process flows to support daily functions of the department. One of the key activities will be design of the workflow process(es), dependent on the function of the department in the overall scheme of the plant. This should have started as part of the assessment to determine the “as is” current process, in which many opportunities are identified during this exercise. Once this is designed, reviewed and gaps clearly identified, you can then use this “brown paper” to design a “to be” process. Then a “white paper” exercise should be designed to address all of the issues identified in the current way of doing business. Once designed by the SMEs, it is best practice to have others review it, using team members from the exercise to “walk” the reviewers through the process. This begins to build buy in as now it’s their process. Getting feedback from others gives them an opportunity to contribute and hopefully gain buy in as well, making the process rollout a little less stressful. It won’t be the first time they have seen it and they helped to build it.
d. R & Rs designed to support Dept processes and meet goals and objectives. Once the new process flow(s) is built, the next step will be to design a RACI chart.
R – Who is Responsible for performing the activity?
A – Who is Accountable for ensuring the task is completed?
C – Who should be Consulted to ensure the task is performed properly?
I – Who should be kept Informed on the status of the task?
e. To start understanding the work process flow and the RACI, start at the beginning and ask:
- Who is in the box?
- What is their role in the box?
- What level of training is required to provide adequate knowledge of the task(s) and the skills required to perform them?
- What level of live coaching in the field may be required to ensure they not only have knowledge, but also that their skills are adequately developed?
- What work aids can be produced to ensure consistency of process?
- What are auditable points that can be developed to ensure sustainability of the process step?
After determining the RACI and answering the questions above, you have just provided a serious level of information needed to build the formal Roles and Responsibilities for each position!
4. NOW, you can consider organizing to better support the company and departmental mission
a. Once you have successfully started closing gaps and implementing the new processes as designed, you will have a much better idea of what your organization should look like, but…
Be careful not to cut and move personnel too quickly, as you may still have further changes to the process as you get things working. This could have a direct effect on what you do with personnel.
You may find that as you reduce your organization through attrition, as the improvements will not happen overnight. You make improvements this year, some personnel retire, and you determine “We don’t need to fill the position”, as you are running much more efficiently now. You can continue this process over multiple years.
You are NOT finished! You’re only on Step four!
5. Ensure all personnel are properly trained to the new improved processes
a. Based on the bullets Step 3d & 3e, you can now design the appropriate training matrix in cooperation with Human Resources (they will be very happy that you are designing this). This will be required to ensure everyone inside the workflow process and sub-processes are appropriately trained. Included in the training matrix should not only be the process training, but all competencies and skills required to perform their work in their position daily.
b. As information – World Class companies provide between 80 and 120 hours of skills-based training annually. If you think you can’t afford training, how expensive is ignorance?
c. Be sure and start by letting each person provide a self-assessment in order to determine what they think they are good at and where they think they need help. You must ensure they are encouraged to be honest on the assessment as this is the time to say you need more training, coaching, etc. so it can be added into your training plans. Telling us you’re great at everything will help no one. It delays training you might have received earlier if known.
6. Build internal expertise to drive change, constancy of purpose and communications.
a. Identify your coaches. As the new processes are designed and being prepared to be rolled out, it will be important to set up personnel in each area that have been instrumental throughout design, testing and now rollout. They will help drive performance to the new standards in each area and help make the processes sustainable.
b. These positions can be full time or part-time. They need designated time for coaching as part of their daily activities. This is easier said than done, especially when you are on the front end of implementation. It takes time and commitment on the part of leadership to allow resources time to get the processes embedded. Otherwise, it will fall apart and be the next “flavor of the month”.
7. As you begin to close the gaps for each dept based on assessments, find quick wins to show personnel that this new way of business can be effective, and build excitement for things to come
a. Everyone is watching, in whatever you do (or don’t do). How you present new processes and systems is as important as what they are supposed to achieve. Any time you can take the ideas and suggestions from the SMEs and others and make positive, quick improvements that are visible to everyone, it will go a long way with the masses. For one, it shows you listened. It also gets people excited to see what else might improve given time. You will need these types of wins, as a lot of the improvements will be behind the scenes and take longer to implement. The trick is to keep coming up with quick wins when you can to help keep momentum over time.
8. Align your systems to support the company’s and departments missions, goals and objectives
a. Don’t let the system dictate how you work. Too many times we see companies buy new CMMS systems or other tools and then adjust their processes to the tools shortcomings. We don’t work the way we want or need to because the tool “won’t do that”. This should not be acceptable. If you have performed thorough due diligence before deciding on a new tool or system, you should have a very thorough design specification which will “weed out” those who cannot provide you with something that can support your processes as designed.
9. Recognize that you have many of the answers to making these changes and improvements in the palm of your hand (SMEs on the floor)
a. Use your Subject Matter Experts! As mentioned throughout this article, there is a group of people at all our sites that would love to be heard. You as a leader, do not have to have all the answers. A good leader recognizes this point and realizes that a good leader utilizes his people’s expertise to drive improvements. They have the answers if we will just listen. We simply need to provide the vision and guidance as needed. Otherwise, give them the opportunity and get out of the way.
10. Embed the improvements
a. Set up standards. In many cases, you have expended huge amounts of time and resources to make these improvements which will hopefully bring you to the “best in class” status. Now you need to ensure these processes get embedded.
b. What happens if we still decide to reorganize? Your people now work to standardized processes. If a manager moves to a new department, it is part of our process to ensure they are properly trained on the processes for that department and their roles and responsibilities inside of those workflow processes. It is NOT their place to come in and kill all the efforts you have expended just so they can leave their mark and then move on to bigger and better things. They are welcomed to learn their place and then help us continuously improve, but not to totally disrupt all of the hard work and start all over again going down some totally different way of working. This is very demoralizing to the staff when this happens. We also have practices in place for people that change positions through promotions and other reasons. Same as the manager, they will be trained in their new position, not left to figure it out on their own.
11. Sustain the improvements
a. To assist in sustainment, there are many ways to use various audits throughout your processes. One way to identify these audit points is to keep them in mind when building out the white paper for the new process steps. Always ask is this a point in the process that should be audited. How will we measure and track it? Is it important to drive the process to be sustained or maybe improved?
b. Set up Standards. There will be opportunities throughout the processes to institute standards on the floor.
5S – Organize your workplace and set up standards which show how it should be maintained
Single Point Lesson Plans – Standards which can be placed on equipment, in shops, attached to work orders, etc. These activities are best designed through the use of pictures with short step procedures. They can depict good vs. bad conditions. They can show sequencing steps and many other things. Once again, use your SMEs to help design these plans.
Planner’s checklists – Ensure planners are as efficient and effective as possible when going to the field to walkdown job requests to determine scope. This helps standardize expectations of quality work packs across planner personnel.
Standards used on PMs - Good vs. bad condition checks. Wear conditions, Adjustment procedures.
a. As you begin to perform all of the activities discussed in this article, you must remember to communicate well, and also, acknowledge key milestones, which when achieved, there is some form of congratulatory effort made dependent on the scope of the accomplishment(s). You must know your people and what “makes them tick” so you understand what these celebrations might look like.
Individual recognition – This can be very different from one person to the next. One might simply appreciate a pat on the back and “good job”, while others would appreciate group recognition, monetary, gift card, etc. Make sure you know your people to give them something that is meaningful to that person.
Group or department recognition – This can be just as tricky when determining what works on average for the whole group. It may be grilling steaks for everyone. It could be a family picnic for the department. The importance of this section is this. We tell people to do things. We should also tell them how they are doing and when they achieve the improvements we expect, show your appreciation for the hard work.
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