Resistance to Continuous Improvement

Sometimes individuals “push back” because learning a new discipline is hard, but sometimes the resistance is a symptom of poor organizational implementation. Here are some excuses and remedies:

Things Individuals Say: “We don’t have time. This just slow's us down”

Remedy or Approach: Continuous Improvement can save time – if you measure end to end time, focus on the       “time thieves” - bottlenecks people complain about.

Things Individuals Say:  “This feels like extra work”

Remedy or Approach: Attack the improvements that are central to the work

Things Individuals Say:  “We do this already. Its not new”

Remedy or Approach: True – it’s just a way to ensure consistency and to ensure that problems stay solved.

Things Individuals Say: “I don’t have any problems”

Remedy or Approach: Usually a reaction to the word “problem” –try “opportunity”

When Stuck in the Process: “Problem statements are hard”

Remedy or Approach: Practice makes it easier; use key words,   Object (What you are  improving), Defect (What is wrong with it), Impact (So what? What is the cost of doing nothing?)

When Stuck in the Process: Scheduling of team –“I Can’t get people to work on this”

Remedy or Approach: Scheduling of team –“I Can’t get people to work on this”

When Stuck in the Process: “There’s no passion for this”

Remedy or Approach: Need to find hidden CTQ’s – connect to the business

When Stuck in the Process: Project loses steam – after identifying  causes or solutions

Remedy or Approach: Often a symptom that project was scoped too large – pare back to milestones  or rethink  interim metrics

When Stuck in the Process: “90 days is way too short to show results.” “This problem is too big.”

Remedy or Approach: The project was scoped too large – Use a scoping tree to break down – measure defect not impact

Implementation Symptoms: “Those guys up there don’t care.” No sustained leadership

Remedy or Approach: Valid – it is hard to make work without support. Connect with business leaders about critical business improvements needed and demonstrate results.

Implementation Symptoms: “If we did this we’d shut down operations.”

Remedy or Approach: This is related to individual time and difficulty resistance, but if true, it is a symptom of out of control operations and poor scheduling. Start small and eliminate the constraints that cause poor quality, rework and frustration.

Implementation Symptoms: “Flavor of the month” “People are just ‘Rubber stamping’ - box ticking

Remedy or Approach: True in organizations that follow fads – only cure is demonstrating results and sticking with it. Need dashboard metrics to track `value’

Implementation Symptoms: “CI projects don’t deliver”

Remedy or Approach: Perhaps the wrong projects are being chosen or we give up too soon.

Implementation Symptoms: “People are just documenting old projects.”

Remedy or Approach: May be okay for teaching the process, but a symptom of measuring number of projects and non-value-added

Implementation Symptoms:Process isn’t valued by our culture”

Remedy or Approach: "Process" is defined as “bureaucracy” in organizations where “process people” add too much complexity. Start small, simplify everything, and build a track record. In a paraphrase of Alice’s Restaurant: “One person is crazy; Two are harmony; Three or more are a movement.” Start a movement!

In case you missed it, my last post was What can we learn from Japanese Management? Part III of III

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