in Communication, Leading Change, Leading People, Process Improvement

8 Pointers On Balancing Improvement and Efficiency

When leaders undertake process improvement/change initiative, they walk on a tight rope.

On one hand, they have to improve the processes to deliver positive business outcomes. On the other, they have to ensure that improvement/change initiative does not slow down the current work and bring the overall efficiencies down.

Both are crucial and striking the right balance between improvement and business efficiency, between standardization and evolution is a big leadership challenge. Based on my recent experiences in implementing large scale changes, here are a few lessons I would like to share:

  • Avoid Big Bang implementation of major changes. When it comes to processes and changing habits of people, there are no direct cut-overs. People (and culture) need time to change.
  • Improve Incrementally by implementing high priority (and high value) changes first. When people start seeing value in those changes, implement a few more.
  • Have a Strong Purpose behind each change being implemented. People will not subscribe to change unless the purpose of the improvement initiative is clear. People want to know how improvements will help them do a better job.
  • Keep Communication Tight during the change implementation. On going trainings, one to one facilitations, interactive audio/video based training go a long way in ensuring that people are aligned.
  • Focus on “Value Delivered” when looking at a change/improvement. There is a lot to improve, but focus on improvements that have direct impact in value delivered to the organization/customers.
  • Understand People because effective change implementation is not possible without understanding how people operate. With this understanding, managing resistance becomes a little easier.
  • Innovate In Process itself, without getting fixated on best practices. The “wow” customer experiences delivered are always a combination of remarkable people and innovative (yet simple) processes that makes customer’s life easier.
  • Look For “Exceptions” because they are the opportunities for improving and simplifying. When people don’t follow a process consistently, it may be a process problem.

Additionally, here are 5 things a leader should avoid when implementing any significant change. Read more about insights on managing process improvements and change.

Join in the conversation:

What have been your lessons in implementing change? What best practices would you like to share when it comes to balancing improvement and business efficiency?

  1. I could not agree more with point #1 and also believe it belongs at the top of the list as it is the one issue that can cause failure in change efforts.
    My experience is that those making the changes give themselves plenty of time to discuss and adjust and to the changes and then want to implement them immediately without giving others the same latitude. They don’t really intend for that to happen but once we align our own expectations, we believe others should immediately jump on board.

    • @Perry – Thanks for the comment. I have seen leaders who expect changes to be implemented in a few weeks (let alone months) and expect everyone to be aligned from day one. They set a wrong expectation for themselves, the one that almost fails.

      Change is organic and business often needs immediate results, which is why this post was needed to re-iterate the fundamentals of managing change.


  2. Clarity of purpose (for change) and constant communications are 2 most important aspects for managing change.
    I have been facing this very recently. Our clients don’t allow the delays, even though they understand that enforcing some changes in term of benificial processes, might result in some delays in outcomes or schedules. For this we have to constantly keep highlighting the purpose of changes or injecting additional processes. Any information communication passing through cracks may result in increase of implementation efforts and time.
    Totally agree to these two items plotted above in the post.
    Nice topic to share with.

    Best regards,
    Jay Chhaya

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