A recurring activity to increase
the ability to fulfil requirements.
The anatomy of change
There are three things
that are certain in this life, death, taxes and change! . Change is improvement if it is beneficial and a
retrograde step if it is undesirable but there is a middle ground where change
is neither desirable nor undesirable – it is inevitable and there is nothing
we could or should do about it. Change is a constant. Its effects can be desirable, tolerable or
undesirable. Desirable change is change that brings positive benefits to the
organization. Tolerable change is change that is inevitable and yields no
benefit or may have undesirable effects when improperly controlled. The
challenge is to cause desirable change and to eliminate, reduce or control
undesirable change so that it becomes tolerable change. We cannot improve
anything unless we know its present condition and this requires measurement and
analysis to tell us whether improvement is both desirable and feasible.
Improvement is always relative. In terms of business performance, there are only three states.
Businesses are either in decline, remaining stable or improving. To cause
performance to be in one of these states requires action. Performance
deteriorates because of inappropriate action or inaction. Bringing performance
back to where it should have been is not improvement, neither is fire fighting
or resolving random problems. However
maintaining the status quo requires improvement. To maintain market position,
keep customers, retain capability requires a lot of effort so
improvement is not only about pushing forward the frontiers. In an environment
in which all around you is changing you need to continually measure your
performance against that of your competitors and identify any threats to
Types of improvement
Improvement can be targeted at specific
characteristics, specific activities, specific products, specific processes or
specific organizations. When targeted at a specific characteristic it may
involve reducing variation in the measured characteristic. When targeted at
specific products it may involve major modification – product upgrade. When
targeted at the organization it may involve major re-organization or
re-engineering of business processes. To appreciate the scope of meaning you
need to perceive requirements as a hierarchy of needs. At the lowest level are
the needs of the task, passing through to the needs of the process, the needs of
the system and ultimately the needs of the organization. At each level
improvement is about improving efficiency and improving effectiveness.
is a universal improvement process that can be applied to any type of improvement.
the objective to be achieved, e.g. new markets, products or
technologies, or new levels of organizational efficiency or
managerial effectiveness, new national standards or government
legislation. These provide the reasons for needing change.
the policies needed for improvement, i.e. the broad guidelines to
enable management to cause or stimulate the improvement.
a feasibility study. Discover whether accomplishment of the
objective is feasible and propose several strategies or conceptual
solutions for consideration.
plans for the improvement that define the processes by which the
objective will be achieved.
the resources to implement the plan.
out research, analysis and design to define a possible solution and
and develop the best solution and carry out tests to prove it
fulfils the objective.
and overcome any resistance to the changes proposed
the change, i.e. put new products into production, new processes
into operation and new services into operation.
in place the controls to hold the new level of performance.