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Chris Gray

 

New techniques, approaches, tools, and systems, and technologies often spur companies to change and improve. There doesn't seem to be a better motivator than a direct competitor using a new tool or technology and getting superior results.

And we’re in favor of implementing new systems and approaches.  Sales and operations planning and lean manufacturing are two of our favorites with the greatest potential for payback for the average company.  You’ll see a lot of references to them in this newsletter and at our websites.  

 

Yet history teaches us that companies who focus solely on a tool, technique, or technology, without a clear vision of the process they are trying to improve and how they want to improve it, get results that fall short of expectations.

 

The sad truth – technology alone will not produce the results you want or need.  If you really want to get the best results from any new approach, understand that the real key is behavior modification - so that the old ways of doing things don’t strangle the new system.  Unless this is the outcome of your implementation efforts, the results of any new system or technology, no matter how good it is, will be disappointing. 

 

So what drives behavior modification? 

 

Effective education and training – along with a “pilot approach” to implementation – are the secret that successful companies keep when it comes to getting almost anything new on-the-air. 

 

General education, done properly, covers concepts and principles, so that users understand why and how a particular tool, system or approach (S&OP, lean manufacturing, etc.) works and how it can be applied to specific situations.  General educational also helps users develop a sense of how the business will be run using the tools of the new system. 

 

Training covers specific forms, transactions, reports, procedures, etc.. 

 

The later phases of most implementations, the conference room and live pilots, verify that the education and software were done properly, and that it's okay to “go live” at least on some portion of the business.  It’s the validation that the changes in behavior have been made appropriately and will work in actual practice. 

 

General education is flight school.  Training is flying in a simulator.  The conference room pilot is flying with an instructor, and the live pilot is going solo.

 

You can’t expect good results without doing them all.  Yet many companies think that training is essential and education is optional and the best approach to implementation is “cold turkey”.  Having observed lots of manufacturing software implementations over the years one thing stands out over and over again:  the really successful companies seem to get the right mix for these activities - lots of time and money on the educational and behavior change parts of their implementation, some targeted training activities and then brief, intense pilots to ensure that things work before betting the business on the new system. 

 

And here’s another secret - from the start, get the people who know the most involved in leading the change and the education. Even if they do not conduct the education and coaching sessions, your most knowledgeable people should participate along with those that know the least. Why? - it's simple:

 

1. The more knowledgeable people can accelerate the learning process for the others by connecting concepts with concrete examples and applications in the company

2. By participating, they lend credibility to the importance of the change.

3. They can participate early in the design process for change, rather than waiting until the end and critiquing someone else's thoughts.

 

We can help you unleash the power of your people to find and implement solutions to everyday problems.  We’ve developed a comprehensive approach to education, training and the pilots.  More than anything else, we’re in the business of helping companies change and improve.  If you’d like to discuss how you can structure an education program that works, or assess one that you are using today, give us a call or drop us a line: 

 

1 603 778-9211