Transforming Systems

Effective systems are critical to success. Businesses have multiple systems: lead generation, sales, accounting, workflow, customer service, etc.  These systems and processes are set in place at the beginning however once set up, should be reviewed regularly. Adapting to unforeseen variables, technology, social behavioral changes and expectations, and innovations is an ongoing effort.  Continuing adaptation is non-negotiable if a business is to experience any kind of sustainability and success. While commitment to transformation has always been important in the modern era, the speed of change has increased dramatically.

Sadly, the temptation in many organizations is not just to avoid change, but actually punish anyone or anything that hints at the need to change.  Leadership often looks at the cost of change in the short term rather than the long-term cost of being locked in a concrete (aka safe, proven) system.

Some organizations are trying to “transform”. They get that things have changed and they need to adapt. Unfortunately, the aspiration to change is much easier than actually doing it. Transformation requires continual learning and the ability to adapt, over and over again. Businesses struggle with this because they rely on choosing solutions to create their way of doing things, and those solutions are based off knowledge and ways of thinking.

Yet to be successful, positive change must be ongoing. The burden falls on leadership to:

  1. 1) be committed to continual education and long-term change,
  2. 2) provide an environment that allows for flexibility and adaptation and
  3. 3) empower workers rather than inspect them.

Dr. W Edwards Deming is considered to be the father of modern quality control. He popularized the process of Plan/Do/Check/Act. Later in his career, he modified it to Plan/Do/Study/Act because he felt that the emphasis on “check” was interpreted as inspection. The difference between “check” and  “study” is enormous. “Checking” can be used to threaten workers and create fear in the workplace. “Studying” looks at the system and allows for understanding and growth. Far too often quality control is used to bludgeon the workers rather than modify a faulty system. As always, the root of the problem falls on leadership’s ability to allow ongoing transformation.

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