Simplicity = Progress! 5 Tips to Keep Change Simple

As the saying goes (or at least one of those sayings), “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”.  Too often, we try to accomplish so much with one change that we end up getting nothing done.  We expand the scope of change to a point that we miss the initial intention of the change.  It is so important to keep things simple; you will be shocked how much progress you can make if you do.

Here are 5 tips to keep change simple:

  1. Recognize that change may need to be made over time: It will not be “perfect” the first time around, but it will be substantially better!
  2. Identify what the immediate goal of the improvement needs to be: By limiting the scope of change, how do you get a quick win to make the process more effective and/or efficient?
  3. Develop the process that will accomplish the goal of the immediate need: Keep it simple – bullet point the process; don’t write an essay.
  4. Implement the process with the team: Communicate the process to, and involve all of those who are part of the process.  Test what works well and what needs to be improved by testing the new process over a period of time (a week, a month, etc.).
  5. As you test the new process, maintain a list of future enhancements required: Some of these enhancements may need to be made immediately, while others can be made over time.

To understand how to implement these tips, let’s look at an example.

Consider a company that has a fleet of trucks and repair technicians that service appliances.  Let’s assume that we need to improve the efficiency of getting the service repair team on the road in the morning.  More specifically, the first customer window starts at 8 am and for the past number of months (if not years), the repair technicians have not even left the office until 8:45 am or so, so they are not arriving at the customer’s home until well after 9 am.  This not only frustrates the customer, but it puts us behind schedule for the remainder of the day.

This change impacts, and thus requires input from, numerous functions within the organization – operations manager, each repair technician, fleet manager, repair technician’s manager, dispatch and warehouse supervisor.  Unless all functions work together, there is no chance we can make the process more efficient.

Think about how complicated we could make this process improvement if we get bogged down in the needs of every single person or department on day 1, the development of new, complex systems, etc.  An overly complicated change will delay the needed improvement to the effectiveness and efficiency of the new process. 

So, let’s think about the change in a simplified form; let’s get our quick win!  The following are the changes that each team member needs to make to improve the process NOW:

  • The operations manager needs to create and communicate the new process (as explained below), train employees and implement.
  • The repair technicians need to understand and be accountable for their role in the process, including highlighting issues with the trucks and repairing equipment the night before (after their shift), arriving to work on time, remaining focused during the morning meeting, etc.
  • The fleet manager needs to make sure the trucks are reviewed, repaired and ready for service before 7:00 am based on the information received from the repair technicians the night before.
  • The repair technician’s manager needs to start the morning meeting with the repair technicians earlier (now 7:00 am) and keep the meeting topics organized, focused and valuable, so that the meeting concludes on time (7:30 am).
  • Dispatch needs to create the schedule for the day the night before, take roll call first thing in the morning, adjust the schedule for absences and post the schedule earlier (by 7:15 am).
  • The warehouse supervisor needs to take the final schedule prepared by dispatch and ensure every truck is stocked and ready for the road by the time the morning meeting concludes (7:30 am); the warehouse supervisor then checks out each repair technician/truck, so that they are on the road by 7:45 am.

All of this will ensure they are at their first customer by 8 am, or shortly thereafter.  Of course, there are detailed components of each of the above points, but, generally, the changes are focused and simple.  They are not over-prescribed or over-complicated!

After we implement it and test it for a while, we realize that we have made significant progress, but additional enhancements will make it better.  Here are some examples of enhancements that will continue to improve this process:

  • Create a check-out and check-in list to ensure trucks and equipment are all accounted for and operational at the beginning and end of every day.
  • Repair technicians need to do a better job of reporting everything (truck issues, equipment issues, etc.) timely, and we need a way to track these (possibly automation), so the fleet manager can make the necessary repairs every morning.
  • We need to determine what spare parts and tools should be on each truck (what internal equipment the repair technicians can fix on their own vs. at night by the fleet manager), so the repair technicians are completing each job timely.

As we make these changes (and the others that we will continually identify over time), we will continue to get better at what we do and how we do it!

Prism Partners International can assist you and your leaders develop your strategy and deliver resulting action plans to embed your strategy into your organization.  We drive results by holding individuals and teams accountable for accomplishing their goals, continually focusing on process improvement.  This creates an organizational environment positioned to effectively and efficiently manage growth and improve profitability.

Also, as you continue to look for ways to develop your team, consider our online training courses.  Our courses cover the following topics: strategy, culture, leadership and performance management.  These courses can be an invaluable and affordable tool to help you drive your organization/function forward and develop your people in practical, SIMPLE terms.

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