Our clients often ask us about Improvement Plans and what they should include.
An Improvement Plan should contain all the elements required to embed the practice of continuous improvement into the culture of the organisation.
Elements to consider are:
A vision and reason for change. CI is a change program and people need to know what it will look like and why they are being asked to change their day-to-day work practices. The Framework should clearly articulate the reasons for change up front.
A preferred improvement approach. The preferred approach should include a set of improvement principles, an improvement process and a toolkit with improvement tools and techniques.
Governance arrangements to manage the program. Some organisations employ a CI Manager, others use a steering committee, still others use a mix of the two. An agreed over-sighting mechanism is crucial.
A capability development approach. People need knowledge and skills in using the methodology and an understanding of the overall approach. The Framework should include what training will be required for different groups of stakeholders.
A leadership engagement strategy. An improvement program is a change program and the key to successful change is leadership, from at all levels of the organisation. Middle level managers in particular can be threatened by change programs and ACIG’s experience is that this group often presents the most resistance to change. The Framework should include a strategy for engaging managers at all levels and developing their leadership change capabilities. This could mean tapping into a current leadership program or integrating leadership training into the skill development workshops and then putting in place mechanisms to monitor leadership behaviours in the workplace.
An implementation strategy and plan. A CI program can be implemented in different ways. Issues to consider include: should it be deployed at the service unit or organisation level; should it include cross functional projects or focus on service processes only, or both; should it be implemented across the organisation at once, incrementally, or one directorate at a time; should it use pilots to test the Framework before full deployment.
A change management approach. Resistance to change will occur and an approach to recognising and dealing with change issues can mitigate the negative effects. Issues to consider include: implementing an effective communication plan that targets the preparatory, implementation and mature phases of the implementation; whether and how staff will be recognised; how to encourage or motivate people, particularly key influencers, to get involved; and how to deal with people who disrupt the process.
An evaluation plan. It is important to consider how and when to evaluate the CI program, and what measures of success should be used.