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Successful process improvement needs to be cultural, and urgency must be at the cultural heart. Whether or not your entire team is driven towards process improvement will decide if your organizational change will succeed or fail.
Professional services businesses are close-knit teams. While having everyone under the same roof may get crowded sometimes, it also creates a deep sense of unity. You’re all in the same boat, and it’s that much easier to build a culture of urgency.
1) Daily Stand-Ups
Remember the meetings that are called with a deep sense of urgency, but by the time people wander in, pour a coffee and find a seat that urgency is gone? It’s time to bring it back.
We often don’t realize some of the advantages our business models have. In professional services, everyone arrives to work at about the same time. It’s an opportunity to catch people before they get into their work and get them all on the same page.
Daily stand-up meetings will build a habit of urgency. The model is about energy and efficient communication designed to get people focused and on their way instead of ambling into their projects over 3 coffees.
Make it clear to the team that the stand-ups are reserved for announcing wins and losses, proposing solutions, and requesting help from other people on the team. When the team understands the utility of the stand-up, it becomes a tool for employee engagement and rapid change.
2) Identify Waste as a Group
Being there to listen to someone who tells you about waste is effective. But providing the space for people to assemble and identify waste together is powerful.
Hold a monthly or quarterly ‘efficiency’ meeting. Ask people to prepare by spending time beforehand thinking about waste (give them this time, don’t ask them to make it magically appear).
Conduct the meeting roundtable style with the bosses keeping their mouths shut. It’s the employees’ turn. Give them the chance to talk and they will, and what they say will save you money.
3) Inspire Them
Process improvement needs everyone’s engagement, but it needs your vision. Urgency comes from being inspired, and inspiration comes from leadership. It’s a common theme in process improvement and Lean that leading change can’t be done from the corner office; it happens in cubicles, hallways and lunchrooms.
Inspiration is more realistic than idealistic. Set actionable goals with timelines and accountability. Get everyone involved and move towards them together. Stay transparent about what parts of the plan are working what needs to be improved.
Make Sure Urgency is Productive
There are 2 kinds of urgency. There’s the running place-to-place, always-busy-never-focused, working-harder-but-not-smarter urgency. It’s unproductive, and in an office environment important details can get missed like that.
Productive urgency is being driven not to work faster, but smarter. It’s following the processes you’re used to, but opening your eyes to the waste that’s in plain sight.
Urgency goes hand-in-hand with a sense of ownership. Take the steps to involve your team today, and let them in on the impact their productivity is making on the business. When your team knows how much their contributions matter, a sense of urgency will naturally become a part of your business’s culture.
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
— Leonardo da Vinci