Ideas abound if you know where to look for them.

How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things

Neil Smith has written a good book about how to make change happen. It's not about the big ideas like "The Advantage" or "Great by Choice". It is about the nitty gritty of getting change done. He explains that there are two things every company has:
 - Hidden barriers that prevent great ideas from surfacing
 - Employees with great ideas for how the company can do things differently

There are potentially thousands of ideas within your company. If unleashed, the impact of this could be dramatic:

  • 25% increase in profit
  • Less complexity
  • Increased customer satisfaction

Eight barriers

  1. Avoiding Controversy
  2. Poor Use of Time
  3. Reluctance to Change
  4. Organizational Silos
  5. Management Blockers
  6. Incorrect Information and Bad Assumptions
  7. Size Matters
  8. Existing Processes

Twelve Principles

There are twelve principles for breaking down these eight barriers:
  1. The process must be personally led by the CEO and supported by senior management.
  2. The entire organization must be engaged-not merely involved-to the change process.
  3. The process is guided by a sprinkling of superstars from within the organization who are willing to challenge the status quo.
  4. There are no upfront targets for the company as a whole or for individual groups within it.
  5. The ideas must be owned by the people responsible for implementing them.
  6. The ideas are easy to put into the process, but hard to remove.
  7. The consideration of ideas is based on facts and analysis, not opinion.
  8. Consensus is built so that everyone who will be affected by a change must agree with it before it is made. (This is the real secret to removing barriers.)
  9. There must be a focus on increasing revenue, not only on reducing expenses.
  10. The process of breaking down the barriers will not disrupt normal business.
  11. Anything less than 100% implementation is not acceptable.
  12. The change process is about culture change; this is not simply a matter of completing a project.

Point number seven is pivotal. Ideas must be given fair consideration without regard to who talks the loudest or cites a sample size of one as a proof. With senior management acting as referee, no one gets to bully their way to promote (or kill) an idea.

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