Through this process, customers who agree to buy the product/service have a perception of what capabilities they will receive and how they can benefit from them. However, as the project gets underway the selling organisation more often than not, runs into problems, and either they are unable to deliver on the initial promise or they have to make compromises in order to meet key project milestones and delivery dates. In any case, the result is a not-too-happy customer and some significant financial penalties.
Another key problem faced by many is not understanding what the customer wants in the first place. When people work in a particular field for a significant length of time, they tend to develop a good understanding of what the customer wants. Although this is true, the reality that is often forgotten is that the customer is always changing, whether that means different people being served, or the same customer having different desires. With an ever-changing world, and unstoppable stream of disruptive ideas and technologies, to stay on top of customer desires and priorities is an incredible task. Moreover, getting beyond their requirements/desires and offering them things that they themselves have not even thought about is even more challenging. But the organisations that manage to do so definitely reap the rewards.
- Set-Based Design allows multiple options to be developed so that potential problems in a solution are identified early and problematic solutions can be ruled out
- Better knowledge management empowers sales departments with a more graspable understanding of what can and cannot be done so that they can have richer discussions with customers and avoid over-promising
When an organisation fails to embrace any or all of these it is heading for failure. The reason being, that someone else, some other group, or another organisation are going to realise and take advantage. With the risk-averse culture adopted by many organisations, it seldom makes sense to consider new unfamiliar ideas. Despite the realisation of the need to innovate, when the organisational structures and processes in place do not encourage innovation, it is very difficult to do so.
changes and rework?
In engineering design, two of the main causes for rework are starting to design a solutions without understanding customer desires and objectives and the opposite, defining a detailed specification too early. Each of these can lead to major project problems and result in late design changes, increased project costs, and the redundancy (scrapping) of much effort.
Although, many critics put this down to the weak Yen, none argue against the fact that Toyota is a well-run, lean and efficient company that lives the Kaizen principle (continuous improvement). For a long while, Toyota’s success was associated with its super-efficient production methods and processes. This led many organisations to focus on lean and efficient manufacturing processes, but also masked their outstanding design and product development approach.
One of the problems we often find is that many local processes are being operated by different groups within the same organisation. These processes can be unstructured, slow, expensive, and out-dated (not really fit for purpose!). Furthermore, when one group doesn’t understand the processes of another, it is difficult to work together. This tends to be one of the common causes for groups working in silos with a lack of trust between them. The lack of trust inhibits constructive open communication and various further problems ensue.
Another key issue that many organisations face is too much emphasis on productivity. Although process outputs are the things that customers pay for and company groups are measured on, the process itself is just as important, and we would say more! Many companies that we have worked with have pushed their processes to their limits. This leads to processes becoming very sensitive and can actually lead to ‘process burnout’. thought about is even more challenging. But the organisations that manage to do so definitely reap the rewards.
Across any organisation standardised processes must be operated. Exceptional performance will be achieved by streamlining processes, improving connections between processes, and enhancing the trust and communication between different groups. Standardised are much easier to manage and measure. Better measurement of process efficiency and productivity will help to instil the Kaizen principle and transform processes into evolving organisms that keep learning and responding to change.
Sometimes, there is no imminent danger, but due to their foresightedness they are able to see or sense it coming. Being aware that something bad is approaching is of little use unless you are willing to act. But why act when you have little hope that the seniors in your organisation are going to do anything about it?
The above scenario is all too common, and the results can be quite catastrophic. The good news is that there are ways to address these problems and gain management support for change. Some important points to consider are:
- Is there a strong enough reason for your organisation to change?
- Do you have sufficient evidence to support your organisation to consider change?
- Have you documented your view of the current situation and your proposed solutions in the best way?
- If someone else proposes your idea, will it be better received?
- Why don’t we have a change positive culture?
- Why did the current situation develop?
- Why have/haven’t previous change proposals been successful?
- Why have/haven’t previous change initiatives been successful?
- Why do I fear resistance and why would senior management resist change?
- Why would change proposals be accepted?