In every organizational business, success is the core objective, and so any single plan is oriented towards the success of that business. In the face of a competitive environment, it is good to learn how to suitably compete, so as to avoid ending up in a significant disadvantage. As one of the instructors said,”if you are not getting better, you are getting worse” (Gardner 3). Many people have several criteria for getting to success, and some of them are complex while are just but simple not forgetting that they either work or fail.
Considering the history and the future of the performance improvement sector, it becomes less certain that the current movement will deliver the best and long lasting as they are being promised by the methods applied. Looking back to the ways which were sometimes used back, they were too promising to give good results and so they all began with great expectations. But because of the huge expectations of an improvement it continued to consume many resources in documenting and auditing quality systems, which probably allowed continuous poor quality production. (Gardner4)
For the process of improvement to do well and give better returns, there are some fundamentals that need to be considered- where investments are made today, and the benefits waited for future to tell. Failure to acknowledge this idea will tend to promote several non-profiting patterns as discussed by Gardner (Gardner6)
Short-circuiting the essentials; to move from the level of existence in the performance improvement, there are crucial steps that must be passed through. Skipping any of these essentials will mean that the effectiveness of the program will be impeded over the long run. Many people are always willing to short circuit the process may be because of trying to easily and shortly get to the fruits of success and therefore the seeds of failure are set in place which sprout soon and the hope for success start diminishing (Gardner7).
Bogus improvements; sometimes the development managers are under high pressure to produce great improvements in a very short time. This place them at a verge of using any means possible to reach to their focus and what they do is to manipulate and exaggerate the genuine results obtained. When this happens, programs become superficial and promote form-over-substance conditions (Gardner8).
Premature harvesting; the anxiety to take improvements to the bottom line, early gains are most likely to be realized. It is more than obvious that results in an organization are what sell the programs. However, it is more convincing that total concentration on the immediate results will propel the patterns outlined in ways that will ultimately defeat our programs set in place. It must be understood that while the improvement work practitioners must move faster in their operation, the managerial department must also understand that success results take a long time before they are realized. Practitioners must therefore not act rashly but should discuss with the long-term manager the potential capacity of the production effort before agreeing the time limit after which result of improvement will have been realized. Otherwise, even whatever the promising the program is to give results might not come to be true. Out of Gardner’s research, it is clear that upon, “closer examination, however, one would find that the localized improvement has significant adverse effects on the enterprise and its value stream” (Gardner6).
It is now clear that every organization has its different capacity of realizing the improvement results and therefore the time span set for every program vary from institution to the other. Process improvement is just but a step in moving towards success, and it must be preceded by many other steps, and the one who closely follows is the level-setting improvement. This is necessary because owing to the organization’s speed of moving to success; it has to begin from a basic level where all the resources will be easily and safely accessed. Therefore, process improvement is an important but incomplete tool, and so it is better that we may need to consider the following cautions when engaging in the process improvement work: (Gardner 7-8)
Process improvement is not a magic pullet. Many people are tempted to believe that process improvement will move the whole process and give good results that will swiftly change the luck of the enterprise, but it is never to happen because it will not be able to solve every single problem that faces the company. So for a complete thinking the broader issues of how the organizational structure and systems are designed and managed must be considered and the many problems facing us today will be solved, as Gardner said, “Actually, it seems that these broader issues are frequently the real cause of many of the performance problems facing us today.” (Gardner 7)
Process improvement has limited application. Now that the process improvement is famous it can be easily applied in every step even in where it is not working to solve any problem. In his book, Gardner has used Abraham Maslow’s maxim saying, “Whoever is good at using a hammer may think that everything is a nail” (Gardner 8). And this similarly would apply to the situation of using process improvement to solve every kind of a problem, which can only result in the waste of time.
Process improvement is not the final answer- The process as we said earlier is a paramount step, it is a fact that there are several other essentials to cover before knowing or exploiting the full power of process and bringing it to effect. To do this we have to follow what Gardner says in his book, and I quote, “To fully exploit the power of process we must learn how to link process to organizational strategy, how to integrate the process with the organizational structure and systems, and how to manage process-not just fix them proactively.” And he also concurs with the action offered by Geary R. and Alan B. about the dangers of thinking that the final answer to performance improvement is in the hands when they give a reminder that, ”Managing to meet the challenge of change is a complex and complicated task. Piecemeal approaches that are assumed to be answered would be dangerous as a non response. These efforts could absorb various resources by pulling organizations into thinking on addressing the needs.” (Gardner 8)
Another key thing in the strategy of an enterprise in moving to success is how the future will receive the outcome of today’s activities. It is imperative to remember that the future holds the level of our success and for this reason we need to know to face the future. And our future is who will be the consumer of our product and how will that consumer receive it.
The value of our product will determine the customer’s satisfaction, yet it is very unfortunate that most clients will frequently see the measurement of customer’s satisfaction and rarely see the measurement of customer’s value delivered, though the value is a more powerful and useful performance indicator. When we measure value, however, we measure future satisfaction, and this will put the business at a level that it can proactively manage satisfaction before occurring (Gardner 9)
Challenges in delivering good value to customers
Before a good value is produced and delivered to the customers there are many challenges that face the process, to be successful in the long run, these challenges must be carefully addressed in the performance improvement level (Gardner10-14).
There are various challenges and potential role of processes used in addressing them. One of the processes is execution speed. Organizations, must execute faster than is always does. The organization with the shortest product design to deployment cycle time will be much more responsive to the shifting needs of the marketplace, while the organization with the shortest order fulfillment cycle time will be more responsive to meeting near-term customer needs. Today, many organizations have exceedingly long lead times along their value chain. Most of this time is filled with idle time, where designs, products, and orders sit around waiting for approvals or resources leading to a lot of time wastage. The slowness in this is majorly caused by the handoffs that occur between the various organizational units that participate in our processes. These handoffs are the source of delays and non-value-adding work. Process work is an important thing that can help to increase the execution speed (Gardner10-14).
Waste is also a challenge in the processes. During the entire process of production there is a lot of wastage of resources. This might be caused by using very long cycle of processing which needs extra time to complete the cycle. At times the rechecking and correcting of the previously done work products also uses a lot of energy which could have been used elsewhere for a different production. Work processing can also help to identify the various types of wastes and help to eliminate in the cycle of production (Gardner12-14).
Quality is also a crucial challenge in production processes. In every other time since history and for almost all the enterprises quality of the product is what matters above all other factors of production. Most of the organizations though still do not monitor the quality of the outcomes closely but try to implement corrections only when the products have been rejected in the market. A common challenge is how to find a way in which it can eliminate this problem by developing processes that are capable of doing it right at the first time of production. Process work gives an opportunity and the tools required to proactively manage the results of the production by managing the upstream determining factors of those outcomes (Gardner14).
Alignment of all the compositions of an organization also plays an important role in its success. Therefore, the arrangement of these components matters. Today, it is common to find organizations operating in ways that are detrimental to the performance of other components. Gardner tells us that from his experience, misalignment is less a result of maverick behavior than it is a result of how the organizational components are measured and managed (Gardner12) Addressing alignment requires the knowledge of how to manage the horizontal dimension of performance as the primary determinant of success. To do this the organization has to establish clear enterprise performance goals, deploy these goals to our value-creating business processes, design our organizational structures and systems to support the value-creating processes, and manage performance by managing process performance (Gardner12).
Manageability of the product of a business should also be of a value satisfying the stakeholders. In most organizations management is left trying to manage the components of the business without good know-how of the relationship that exists in between the components and so most likely they offer poor management which in turn a poor value of the produce. Process work help in solving this challenge by providing a framework for determining the costing approaches that yield more accurate results (Gardner13).
Adaptability is also crucial due to the changes in the surrounding of the business. The business must be in a position to flexibly adapt to the changes that may come along the production cycle. So this calls for a plan of the future possible occurrences, but this is not always an effective strategy, however, since the future is majorly unknowable. So a better organization which can deal with the future much easily is that which can adapt to the future regardless of the shape that it will take (Gardner10).
We at least agree that these challenges we have discussed above referring to Gardner’s work, are real and they define the success of any enterprise according to how they are solved. Therefore, it is common sense that our approach to performance improvement should address these broad issues, by adopting a broader system perspective to performance improvement.
Rummler and Brache share their perspective regarding the performance challenge in their classic book ‘Improving Performance: How to Manage the White Space in the Organization Chart’ when they say: ‘Whether concern would be based on quality, focus of customers, productivity levels, cycle time, cost, underlying issues would be based on performance’. In our opinion, most managers have never responded effectively to the challenges due to failure to create systematic and continuous improvement performance infrastructure. We believe that their shortcoming does not lie in the understanding of the problem—rather most managers would not understand variables that influence individual and organizational performance” (Gardner14).
In conclusion, for good health of any business enterprise, the above-discussed factors among others must be put into consideration. However, trusted and even the less trusted components merge in the business premises, and this makes the process of handling every part becomes an intricate work because each one needs a different attention.As we have seen the performance challenge forms the basis of every step until the final stage of producing a quality product. Though at times, practitioners may dismiss the shortcomings in the performance improvement as implementation deficiencies there is much more to it than only that. Gardner emphasizes that those who are responsible for crafting process programs to try not blame their colleagues in case of a failure but instead the primary cause of it is most likely to be the process. The level of the enterprise too plays a significant role in checking the quality of the end product of the process.
Gardner, Robert. The process-focused organization: a transition strategy for success. ASQ Quality Press, 2004.