Leadership in Micro Process Improvement
I recently read this article posted by Abbey Carpenter, describing the need for a specific set of characteristics in leadership in order to make a process improvement exercise viable and successful.
Ms. Carpenter describes a number of process improvement methodologies, including Six Sigma and TQM, but I think the resounding message is that any process improvement exercise will benefit from the same characteristics.
In the work that we undertake with our clients, process improvements are often at the micro level, affecting small groups or even individuals. However, the impact on productivity, efficiencies, cost savings, etc. are just as real and can affect an entire business unit or beyond. Thus, senior leadership still needs to be aware of, and passionate about this change, and (as Ms. Carpenter notes), most importantly, must empower staff to act.
Nowhere is this more evident than in a public sector environment, where complex and busy departments are starving for change, and provincial or federal imperatives make this change increasingly necessary. Throw in external influences, such as citizen demands and delivery partners, and it's a bit of a mash-up. Leadership is the key to driving change and progress, from the very top down to the line level. Additionally, it is extremely important to foster grassroots communities that share passion for change and bring an operational perspective to its outcomes.
Whether process improvements are enterprise-wide, or very focused on a small work pattern, I believe these requirements still exist in order to ensure success.