I recently came across a very interesting article about Kaizen methods
of change which led to me revisiting the concept of Kaizen and change. I have always understood Kaizen to be about facilitating change through small steps. In fact the original Kaizen approach, as declared by the Kaizen Institute , emphasizes that it is not just about small steps, rather it is about everyone being involved in change.

Some time ago as part of my MBA study I watched a video about kaizen being implemented in a small UK manufacturing organisation, Dutton engineering. What resonated with me and which I recall so well, was the pride that one of the shop floor workers took in an improvement he had made himself in his work processes. This resulted in a much higher level of engagement than is often normal for this type of industry. Having started my career in manufacturing industry my observation would be that processes are driven by management with little involvement of people using them.

So in revising  what is really important in facilitating a change programme, I have concluded that the following aspects are the most important

  1. Engagement

If people are not engaged in the change process, understand the need for change and can see what’s in it for them, then they will not support the change. For a discussion on engagement see this blog post here.

  1. Supportive leadership

I emphasise here the word leadership rather than leaders. Leadership is a concept that can be applied to anyone willing and being accepted to take on the role of facilitating change whatever their position in the hierarchy. Change requires leadership which is supportive, emotionally intelligent and resilient.

3. A compelling vision

This should probably be first however it is crucial that a compelling vision is created in order to inspire people. The best type of compelling vision is one that is co-created by engaging people in the process of change. I have written before about this in this blog post.

4 Commitment at the top level of the organisation to sustain the change.

So many organisations I have worked with have short terms plans which change from year to year. If change is to be successful it must have long term commitment and not be flavour of the month. Change does not happen quickly, however organisations try to make it so, and in doing this they fail to implement fully what is needed for the change to be sucessful. This becomes a self defeating cycle because next time a similar change is suggested people can say we tried this once and it didn’t work! So commitment to the long term is important.

5 Developing a flexible plan

In terms of sustaining the change, not only are vision, leadership, engagement and commitment needed but also a flexible plan. A plan or a map of the journey to the change is important and I would argue that this needs to have in built flexibility such as Mintzberg advocated.

What would you add to this list?

Barbara is an executive coach, change and creativity facilitator and is launching RenewYou Personal Development workshops for women in France. These programmes are enabling and confidence boosting. For more information take a look here .