Many projects often fade away over time and fall well short of their original goals. People face many very real challenges in leading these projects. So how do you avoid having your project become another program-of-the-month and disappear from view? Is there a formula?
As we have discussed in other blog posts we have tackled Inventory Turnover several times, amongst many other challenges. We have doubled turnover and achieved industry leading results in very short periods of time.
Your challenge may be trying to improve Inventory performance or trying to create a transformational improvement in some other area. We have found that there is a formula and a set of key principles that are critical to driving the game changing results you are looking for.
Any specific Game Changing situation may only require you to use either some or all of these elements. Regardless of which of these principles you find appropriate, together they can provide the formula you require to achieve dramatically different results than have ever been achieved before.
Call To Action
In order to mobilize the organization around the change that you are undertaking you need to have a Call to Action. You may have pressure from competitors or from your investors. Or you may have a proactive drive to lead the industry. Whatever the motivator, your transformation requires a Call to Action that everyone can understand and everyone can rally around.
Everyone is usually very busy doing their day-to-day jobs. If you want to get their time and attention you will often need visible Executive Sponsorship in order to ensure that everyone understands that focussing on your project is a priority and not just an afterthought. Otherwise you will be begging for support which will be very difficult to get and sustain.
You will likely come across obstacles whether they be sacred cows, resources, individuals or processes for which some level of Executive support will be necessary to overcome. An Executive Sponsor is essential.
Global Goal Alignment
There are many, many metrics that are involved in running a business. However to drive your transformational change project you need to focus on a single, global goal. That requires a separation of the metric which represents the end result you are striving to accomplish from the other sub-metrics which are enablers to, or variables in, achievement of the overall global goal.
Additionally you need to ensure that everyone is aligned around the global nature of the goal. While everyone needs to achieve their own local targets those local objectives are not the end objective. They are merely the pieces you need accomplished so that the global goal is met.
Distinguishing the Game Changing project you are working on from everything else going on in your organization requires that it be very uniquely framed for everyone. A powerful way to achieve this is to name your project. This name will become the very visible and clear rallying point for your initiative.
When anyone hears your project name they should understand the overall goal, their role, the progress, and the next steps. They should also understand from the name what new paradigms it represents.
At its core every Game Changing transformation usually requires some level of change in the cultural norms. You will require a culture that is results oriented with everyone on the field making improvements. People will need to "embrace the possibilities" and be willing to challenge existing paradigms and sacred cows. And you will need leaders who are dynamic ambassadors of change.
Your organization may already have some of these attributes. Regardless you will need to ensure that this type of culture is prevalent in your organization as demonstrated by the actions taken in the name of your project.
Attack On All Fronts
Approaching a challenge in a piecemeal fashion or attempting to make change serially and incrementally will often drive minor improvements over a protracted period of time. In order to make Game Changing results you may need to take a much more holistic approach addressing all dimensions, all processes, and all stakeholders simultaneously.
By attacking the problem on all fronts you will be addressing all perspectives including processes, customers, competitors, suppliers, resources, systems, and culture. And by doing this in parallel you will be addressing the likely pressure to make changes quickly. Time is often not on your side.
Process Based Focus
Trying to brute force the change you are making may give you short-term improvements but they are usually not long-lived as it is very difficult to keep up this level of manual intervention.
True change comes from attacking the processes that affect the metric you are looking to improve. By having a process based focus you will end up making sustainable changes. You will be creating and implementing a future state process addressing all of the deficiencies, inefficiencies and pain points with the current state process.
A process of governance and oversight provides the platform for you to keep your finger on the pulse of what is going on in your project in real-time. Regular reviews will allow you to understand issues, make course corrections, and shape direction more rapidly. Without any governance your project will quickly become rudderless and fall short of your well-intentioned objective.
It is key to ensure that the administration of governance for your project is not actually, nor perceived to be, a forum which is judgemental and unvested in the project. Those who form your governance steering committee have to be willing to get their hands dirty and work to move the project forward and not just pass judgement on the work of others.
Clear Communications Strategy
Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! As mentioned previously people are busy. If people do not understand your objective, what is expected of them, how the project is progressing, or if they are not recognized then you will have not their attention and focus for long. Reinforcing your messages will serve to embed these inputs into the culture and dynamic of your organization.
Success also breeds success. As your project moves forward you want to communicate the small, and growing, successes. Communication is central to the formula for success. Momentum will build from this communication. Otherwise inertia will set in and your project will stall.
Industry Leadership Competitive Hunger
Your single, global goal should be bold and be a stretch from anything currently being accomplished. One measure of that target is Industry Leadership. If you can get the competitive fire going in your employees I guarantee that they will step up to the challenge.
I have never believed that our competitors are any better than us or our employees. It is important that this is understood so that everyone can get on board with raising the bar on expectations and results.
When we have applied these principles in varying degrees, depending on the situation, we have been a party to some truly incredible game changing results and transformations. We have referenced the application of these principles to the task of improving Inventory turnover performance. Yet this formula of principles has been equally applied to many other challenges often with tremendous success.
Whatever your challenge requires, it is worthwhile to take some time at the beginning of your project to ensure that you are moving forward across many of these principles simultaneously. There is no replacement for hard work and high energy. But your leadership in these focus areas will pay dividends for you along your journey!
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