Four Steps to Accelerating Improvement Changes
Companies have had great strategies that have sat on the shelf or languished in their ability to execute them at any pace in the organization. Here are 4 important steps to accelerating process change.
Step 1—Develop Direction and Business Case
The first step in any improvement change is to know where you are going. It's called the vision or direction or success outcome.No matter what you call it, it is what the end (when it's accomplished) looks like. This end needs to be defined with as much specificity so others can understand the desired improvement change. As a part of this definition, a business case rationale needs to be simply laid out. Why are we doing this, how does it contribute to the company goals, what's our investment, what does the company and stakeholders receive (returns), and what are the risks? Both these are important tools for prioritizing with other strategies and will be paramount to the engagement process.
Step 2—Engage Stakeholders
Once the direction and business case rationale are developed, it's time to engage the stakeholders. The stakeholders are of course those most affected by the direction changes. How the stakeholders are engaged is an important question. The critical part of engaging the stakeholders is to not only gain their commitment but to motivate them into action. Sometimes the stakeholder engagement can be in a group and sometimes it will be necessary to do one-on-one, at least with key individuals. Listening is an important part of the engagement process as they need to feel as though they have input into the direction. They may have good ideas that should be considered. Finally, to affirm the engagement process, the stakeholders should be encouraged to participate in the process redesigns and implementation planning thus putting them into action.
Step 3—Align Incentives and Reinforcers

Once the direction is defined and the stakeholders are engaged, it is critical to align or realign the incentives to produce desired behaviors to accomplish the direction or its implementation. Incentives or behavior reinforcers can be a variety of methods from goals and money to internal system integration and rewards. Anything that drives behavior fits. I've seen many companies forget this step resulting in regression to the old process or behavior, the way stakeholders are most comfortable. If you want to add speed to the direction implementation, make sure the incentives are clear, valuable, and broken into incremental behavior milestones.
Step 4—Measure and Check Progress
The final step to change acceleration is clear success measures with milestones and a checking process. A formal progress review and measurement reporting process with key stakeholders needs to be established. These reviews need to be frequent enough to manage the pace of desired change. One of the most critical reinforcers to driving change is the checking process both formal and informal, done by leadership. Employees generally want to do a good job and thus if they think leadership is serious about the new direction through checking, employees will be motivated to make appropriate process and behavioral changes.

Executive Partners is a business improvement consulting firm with over 30 years of experience implementing business improvement results. They have worked with organizations from mid sized to fortune 100, developing efficiency strategies, business case analysis, and assisting in technology upgrades.

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