Sunday, October 6, 2013

ASQ Influential Voices: Change as Strength

In his blog this month, ASQ CEO, Paul Borawski writes about sustaining quality in the long term.

How easy and wonderful would it be if things just stayed the same?  Unfortunately, they don't - we live in a world where customer needs continuously evolve, and new competition to meet those demands seemingly emerges overnight.  Sustaining any type of greatness or competitive advantage is only possible if and when you become very good at changing.

The challenge is that "proactive" change is very counter-intuitive.  Most executives and managers are risk-adverse by nature, but can we blame them?  Why mess with a winning product line, or tinker with the old ad campaign, or restructure a dependable sales department?  When times are good, why risk any change at all?  But that's the rub; our world is going to change whether we prepare for it or not. As the old cliche goes, the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.

Screaming for change only after a crisis is upon us doesn't take much business acumen.  Real management courage is driving for change even when you're already winning the race.  Innovative organizations view change not as a singular tool or fad, but as a key cultural value.  Getting good at change is as important as any other business skill - in fact, it might be the most important organizational competency we develop.  Here are some simple ways to start creating a culture of change:
  • Voice of customer program (VOC)
  • FMEA on core processes
  • SWOT analysis
  • Technology benchmarking
  • Employee engagement and competency surveys
  • Scorecard analysis
  • Project portfolio prioritization
  • Gemba walks

Require your leaders (and yourself) to perform these activities at regularly prescribed intervals.  Use the findings to drive continuous improvement; get everyone to start viewing change as a strength.  And above all, be brave!  

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