Resistance to change is a given in our highly conservative industry. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is often akin to “we’ve always done it that way”, (even though it IS broke). So the pain of change often kills a worthwhile positive initiative, making successfully implementing new processes very difficult. We spoke with the VP and the CTO of a very successful and highly-reputable $500mm GC firm recently, about adopting new, improved processes at their well-established company. Both these senior-level managers voiced frustration concerning their company’s inability to overcome forty years of bad habits. (In this case trying to improve the distribution of timely job information, and the sharing that data across all departments). Old habits run deep, and in a larger company, convincing many senior managers to get on board and all row in the same direction is often difficult.
A well-crafted, collaborative plan begins with a thorough review of the company’s current means and methods, and includes the input of Ops, Accounting, and IT. Weaknesses are identified, and new technology tools are often chosen to help strengthen those areas. Company leaders shoulder the responsibility to make the financial decisions, with the consulting team typically in charge of implementation, configuration, and training. A plan and schedule are created to install, configure and train personnel on the new tools, methods, and procedures. Clear communication and on-time response, by and among all team members, are essential throughout.
But in our more than twenty years of consulting experience, the number one key common in successful projects boils down to two words: Management’s Commitment. If top managers don’t demand, “if you’re not on board, we’ll find someone who is”, even a well-crafted plan is doomed. Left largely to the whims of mid-level managers, behavior backslides to how they’ve always done it. And that means wasted time and money, (often with expensive software buried in an obscure cabinet, never to see the light of day). With this fundamental commitment however, implementing positive changes can make a company better, more productive, and more profitable.
Finally, practice, practice, practice, supported by management’s persistent, and unwavering commitment are required to finish the job. Nobody said it was easy. But better process and productivity will ultimately deliver more profit to the bottom line, which benefits everyone.