Costs are found in flow – not within activities

 flow2To reduce costs, the expectation is that we must ‘gain efficiency’. This means speeding up the activities which we carry out or reducing the amount of money spent each time we do it. To understand the speed of activities, we should (surely!) count those activities or their cost – and perhaps see how quickly they are repeated or how much cost they accrue. Does this make sense so far?  If it does, then you have been led down the garden path.

Meaningful change should relate to the purpose of the team (essentially their focus on the work), and the team’s purpose should fit with the wider organisation’s purpose. Efficiency gains mean nothing if purpose is compromised. Even cost savings to save a business must be purposeful (and related to core business) if that business is to have any chance to succeed in the long term – otherwise it is just giving respite to an essentially lost cause.

Next consider whether your change is going to impact/intervene with the task (work), the team, or a particular individual (or individuals).

  • With task changes you are interested in both the value of the task (output quality as assessed by the user) and the flow of the activities (timeliness and waste/repetition/failure recovery etc).
  • With team you are looking at effectiveness of contribution and team energy, morale, sharing, learning, synergy and interactions.
  • With individuals it is about their contribution, development and commitment.

If people have been brought along with the change, the reasons, how it fits with team purpose and how it improves output for users at less effort for us (or at least, less wasted effort), then you are much more likely to avoid problems with ‘team’ and ‘individual’. So in a roundabout way a holistic view is important. But it is important at the outset  – during the design of your intended change (when you consider what /where/when) and how you design the ways in which  to get people on board in that design.

The reason people get bothered by change is either:

1) because they know the work and can see the pitfalls and would prefer to implement changes that would make a real difference (potential positive constructive contributors), or

2) they know the pitfalls and want to hide them because they should have raised those problems themselves, so feel a bit exposed (likely negative grumblers).

The ‘1’s will be in the majority – you need to make sure those people don’t become grumblers because their input has not been sought or valued!

 

Reading:

Adair, J. E. (1973). Action-centred leadership. McGraw-Hill.

Seddon, J. (2003). Freedom from Command and Control. Buckingham: Vanguard Press.

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