Simply asking people to change a behavior without providing the vision, training, and other resources necessary to successfully implement the required change causes frustration and demoralization. In contrast, developing a coherent vision and strategy and a deployment plan that is well resourced and supported helps enable effective change. An initiative is an enabler that ensures relevant strategic goals and objectives are executed at every level of an organization. It provides tools, methods, and concepts that help people define problems, measure their extent, analyze root causes, and implement effective solutions to change products, processes, and supporting processes.
There are four key conditions that must exist for an organization to successfully change: strategic vision, relevant core competencies that can execute the strategy, initiatives that reinforce or create new core competencies, and an ability to execute projects with the initiative. Initiatives evolve to link an organization’s strategy to an ability to execute projects at an operational level. In other words, some initiatives should be deployed before others for success. As an example, a Lean initiative should be deployed before a Six Sigma initiative, so that processes are well defined and standardized prior to the investigation of root causes; otherwise, any statistical models that are developed might not be stable. The exception would be a recognized need for focused improvements. Sometimes several initiatives are operative at one time and resources must be prioritized. In summary, initiatives are important to enable strategic execution at an operational level. They also help change organizational behaviors as projects are completed using tools and methods integral to the initiative.
Managing change is easier when the strategy is clearly focused on the need for change and provides a vehicle for implementation. Linkage between strategy and initiatives will help focus projects to improve key metrics. If new product development lead times are too long, then this chronic problem can be investigated and solutions can be created to reduce lead time. If machines break down unexpectedly and cause missed production schedules, preventive maintenance projects can be deployed to reduce or eliminate future maintenance issues. An organization’s operational competency or ability to execute strategy will increase over time as it completes hundreds or even thousands of improvement projects. Properly aligned and executed projects will increase productivity in a sustainable way. Over time, the repetitive cycles of project identification and execution will change an organization’s culture.
At any time, an organization may have several major initiatives in progress to improve core competencies or create new ones. Initiatives could be deployed to improve the process performance of functions such as marketing, sales, finance, engineering, manufacturing, and supply chains. Initiatives have tools, methods, and concepts that organizations use to improve skills and capabilities across their organization. Resources are
aligned to the benefits offered by each initiative. This requires a correct prioritization of resources to ensure they are effectively utilized to execute strategic goals for each initiative.
Figure 2.5 shows the three operational initiatives known as Six Sigma, Lean, and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). When properly defined, prioritized, and deployed, these initiatives work synergistically to increase an organization’s productivity. This directly impacts long-term competitiveness. With resource prioritization in mind, it is important that a governing body (i.e., the leadership council) coordinate initiatives that compete for resources. Governance aligns resources relative to strategy and benefits.
Communication of the initiatives being deployed should use a simple and consistent message. These should describe why an initiative is important to the organization and how it is different from other initiatives. In addition to ensuring effective communication, the people who will become part of the new imitative must be trained in its tools and methods because these are necessary to work on the projects supporting the benefits. Tracking metrics are also needed to integrate projects and benefits across an organization. Organizational learning and competence help initiatives become successful. New skills are gained through the practical application of tools and methods in project teams. Applied projects are critical to ensuring an initiative meets its benefit targets. But not all projects can be completed with the same tools and methods, hence the need for more than one operational initiative.
The types of projects follow from potential benefits. This means projects may be assigned to one initiative and then moved to another as benefit opportunities and resource availability change. Using Lean, Six Sigma, and TPM as an example, resources may be shifted across the initiatives depending on potential benefit. There may also be a sequence for implementation. As an example, Lean is typically applied before Six Sigma to simplify and standardize a process before gathering data for analysis. Performance gaps also help identify the types of projects required to close the gaps.
There are different types of projects. Some have known solutions and are called “just-do-it” projects. These do not need in-depth analysis. Capital expenditure projects are a second type in which requirements need to be carefully documented, but a known solution can be applied with investment. Lean projects are focused on understanding customer value and squeezing out wasteful process steps, then standardizing and mistakeproofing the remaining process steps and their operations. Six Sigma projects are focused on data collection, analysis, and model building to modify variable settings. Six Sigma tools and methods require applied statistics and model-building training using regression and other statistical analyses. As organizations automate and expand IT ecosystems, large data sets with different data formats have pushed analytics to extract large amounts of data (i.e., Big Data), condition it, and apply appropriate analytical methods different than those required for analyzing small samples typical of Six Sigma. TPM also has specialized tools and methods. Reengineering projects dramatically change significant portions of an organization These programs require major changes to organizational hierarchies and policies and the addition or elimination of products, processes, and other organizational structures. Each initiative also has unique tools, methods, and concepts that are used to identify and execute applied projects.
Figure 2.5 shows that Six Sigma, Lean, and TPM have unique tools and methods. Six Sigma increases operational yields though root-cause identification and analysis using simple or complex analytical tools. Lean maps customer value through an end-to-end process to identify ways to simplify, standardize, and mistake-proof operations. The goal is to pull value through the improved process in synchronization with customer demand
(i.e., the takt time). There are also overlaps of tools and methods between these initiatives. Each uses process mapping, brainstorming, and simple analytical tools and methods. Some Lean tools and methods are also used to ensure effective and sustainable process control in Six Sigma initiatives.
TPM ensures tools and machines are available as needed to sustain a process, as well as process standardization. In TPM, availability is analogous to ergonomic tools and methods that help ensure people are available for work and work is performed safely without injury over time. TPM enables an operation to produce “more and more” by increasing resource “uptime.” Six Sigma enables an organization to increase yield, i.e., to make an operational output “better and better.” Lean enables a process to produce “faster and “faster.” The combined result is greater organizational productivity. These initiatives work synergistically to increase productivity, reduce lead time, reduce process cost, and improve quality.
There is a sequence of steps that is needed to effectively deploy an initiative. First, an initiative must have tools and methods useful to an organization. At any point in time, an organization has many performance gaps that need to be closed by projects. But the specific tools and methods vary by project. Organizations should ensure proper alignment of productivity opportunities with tools and methods required to identify root causes of performance gaps and execute solutions for successful project closure. An important part of an evaluation process is assessing where to focus initiatives. Applying relevant financial and operating models build a business justification for certain projects and initiatives having a higher probability of obtaining senior leadership support.
If approved for deployment by senior leadership, a leadership council is formed to guide an initiative’s deployment. This council should be representative of the major organizational functions that will be impacted by the initiative. Its purpose is to coordinate communication, project selection, resource allocation, and benefit reporting. This improves the likelihood that goals are met on schedule. The leadership council and supporting teams are trained on the specifics of the initiative and how to deploy it. After the leadership council approves the deployment plan, middle management is trained to identify improvement opportunities using formal operational assessment methods. Managers are also trained to use tools and methods that enable project closure and reporting as well as the teams. After processes have been analyzed and the project has been identified through the operational assessments, the people who will execute the projects are selected and trained. The deployment goals and schedule are finalized at this point because projects, resources, and benefits are estimated and on a deployment roadmap. Deployment modifications are made when necessary to increase its effectiveness.