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April-May 2013 • North American Quarry News • Page 18

For the past 100 years, we have been starting change in the wrong place Every time you want to improve a process, you start in the same place. You map the process so that you understand the process steps. Then you identify customer requirements and locate deficient process steps that must change to keep customers happy. You may also establish new measures and new communications. You train people on new procedures and expect changes in efficiency, quality and culture as the result of this work. Time passes… and improvements fall short of expectations. What was it that prevented you from achieving your goals for change despite excellent process work, training and coaching? You followed an accepted “recipe for change,” so why didn’t the benefits materialize? The answer to this question may surprise you. Process improvement theory and practice began a century ago at Ford Motor Company, where simple improvement concepts, processes and tools positively impacted production, cost and quality. By the 1920s, TQM

was born and gradually morphed into continuous improvement by the 1950s and 1960s. Six Sigma made its debut in the 1980s and was designed to promote consistent productivity rates. Lean followed in the 1990s with a strong focus on minimizing delays. Through the decades, improvement experts have set expectations with executives about the benefits that come from process improvement work (i.e., higher profits and culture change). As a result, millions in additional profit are promised to executives, boards of directors and shareholders. If the dollars don’t materialize, management teams lose credibility and may believe they picked the wrong improvement methodology. They search for “new and improved” initiatives or systems that WILL DELIVER the expected benefits. They jump from initiative to initiative, causing chaos within their organizations as they search for the “perfect process for change.” This kind of search is very expensive and does a lot of dam-

age to culture and credibility. What is the root cause of this cycle? I believe that 100 years of improvement history has limited our perspective on change. I also believe that management has been misled by a strategy to start change with a focus on processes. When we start change in the wrong place, here’s what happens: • We focus on budget instead of reaching “optimum” performance (i.e., the best you can be) and increase the chance of approving expansion capital when existing capacity (already paid for) has not been tapped. • We believe that process improvement work will change culture. The truth is that process improvement work will only change culture IF poorly designed processes created the culture. Let me repeat that… process improvement work will only change culture IF the processes that were improved created the culture! Many expectations for change have never materialized for this reason alone. • We ignore barriers in the management

team. These barriers are powerful change blockers but are rarely recognized as such and can even be accepted as part of the culture. Examples include poor working relationships, resentment, baggage from the past, and poor management choices. Traditional process improvement work WILL NOT remove these barriers, so we are left trying to change around them and fail to deliver the expected benefits. We ignore the management system for two reasons: • It does not create products or services that generate revenue; and • Management teams believe that they already do things the right way and no improvement is needed. The problem with this assumption is that weak management processes cause capital to be approved when none is needed, result in flawed cost reduction strategies, cause silos to form between departments and cause conflict and confusion between management and the workforce. So… if processes are the wrong place to start

The People Side of Improvement by Kay Sever with change, what is the right place to start? The answer is simple. Start with your barriers to change! If a log blocked the road, you would move it to proceed. If you only needed one more class to graduate, you would be the first person to sign up. Likewise, you would never engineer barriers into your processes, culture or management system — why not take immediate steps to remove them so that change is easier and faster! If you remove your barriers BEFORE you begin a change initiative, you will have a much greater chance of delivering the results you promised. Your bottom line and culture will benefit, and your credibility will soar with executives, the board of directors and shareholders! Amazing success is closer than you think — all you need is a new perspective and a new place to start! Kay Sever helps organizations move be-

yond improvement to become “the best they can be.” She is a certified management consultant, improvement strategist, business coach, author and speaker with 32 years of industry experience. Kay founded OptimiZ Consulting LLC in 2000 and builds an optimization focus into performance, culture and management systems. A leader in change acceleration, her work in removing barriers to change is groundbreaking. Barriers steal production, increase costs, stall projects and weaken relationships. Management’s challenges with change are the toughest and Kay teaches five strategies for change designed to meet those needs. Management teams that work with Kay never go back to their old way of thinking. Kay has over 60 articles published in industry periodicals and wrote “Building An Opportunity Culture” in 2008. Learn more at


Lives from 17 Beach, Operation Blessing has daily operations in multiple U.S. cities and 23 foreign countries. The faith based organization specializes in hunger relief, safe water, medical aid, disaster relief and a variety of programs for at-risk children. Bill says he travels constantly to stay close to the action and have an opportunity to meet the people OBI helps. “I built my machinery business by listening to customers and delivering exactly what they asked for. I do the same thing in the humanitarian business. For example, in the days following the Japan tsunami, I visited decimated fishing villages and asked village leaders what they needed most. The answer was very specific: boats, motors, nets, anchors and fishing gear-so that is what we provided. I call the policy ‘ask don’t tell.’ Rather than tell people what we are going to do… we ask. It amazes me that more charities don’t use this time proven model.” Bill, now 69 years old, says he has no plans for retirement and that “everything I ever did was just practice for what I’m doing now.” Bill’s wife Laura still operates a scaled down version of

Michigan Aggregate Machinery, but says “it’s hard to get Bill interested in machinery these days; he says that saving lives is more rewarding than selling rusty iron.” For more infor mation, visit

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North American Quarry News 4.13 / 5.13  

North American Quarry News April / May 2013

North American Quarry News 4.13 / 5.13  

North American Quarry News April / May 2013