I won’t be exaggerating if I say, “Choosing the right Continuous Improvement methodology is the lifeline of your business- be it a small firm or a large multi-national corporation”.
As the consulting expert or the consulting firm usually recommends the best Continuous Improvement methodology for a company, selecting a right consulting expert therefore becomes key.
A Continuous Improvement consultant plays dual roles. Firstly, she /he advises the Continuous Improvement methodology a company must go in for. And secondly, she / he may be become the change leader for that campaign.
It is up to the company to select one individual who can wear dual hats, or they can get two separate individuals. Although, in my experience of two decades in this field, I believe that it is better to get one individual on board who will play dual roles, that is, advise on the methodology to be used as well as lead to bring-on the change.
When the Continuous Improvement project is large, a group of consultants may be needed to handle it well. But this consultant group must be led by one individual, who is the Principal Continuous Improvement Expert.
Usually I witness that Continuous Improvement projects in companies are ill-coordinated. The result of which is that several projects either fail or sometimes do not lift- off the ground. Too many cooks spoil the pudding is an old adage and this is very apt for projects too.
Another vital point to note is that companies run Continuous Improvement projects department wise. For example, Facility maintenance may run a Continuous Improvement campaign in their department. Another campaign may be going in Manufacturing division or, yet another campaign may be happening in Supply Chain division etc. Each of these campaigns are led by individual consultants who are assigned for the project. And these consultants report-in to the Manager or Head of the respective department. In my view, this is wrong, because costs rise while rewards generated are few.
Also, many a times Continuous Improvement function is clubbed with Quality Management department. This is again wrong, because quality improvement or quality management is only a small part of Continuous Improvement campaign.
If a company is indeed serious with its Continuous Improvement initiative, then they must create a full-fledged Continuous Improvement department. Small companies can perhaps have it as a department of one individual, while larger companies can have bigger teams.
This Continuous Improvement department must identify improvement projects that will bring-in maximum rewards for the company. If pains in business operations are already known, then surely, they can be picked up as Continuous Improvement projects, but this selection must be done strategically and with a flawless execution road-map. The success of the Continuous Improvement project therefore lies with its Leader.
There are several criteria of a successful Continuous Improvement Leader. But here I have mentioned nine crucial skills of a highly effective Continuous Improvement consulting expert-
- The consulting expert must have the ability to understand client’s business and be efficient at stakeholder management.
- The consulting expert or firm should have an integrated and overall understanding of the industry sector, its verticals, peculiarities, regulations & legislation, product types, customer avenues and marketing geographies. Most importantly for companies, it is imperative to match ‘chemistry’ with the Expert rather than looking at ‘geometry’ of the Consulting firm.
- The consulting expert must have an up-to-date knowledge of different continuous improvement or business process management methodologies. She/ he must be hands-on with applying those methodologies successfully.
- The consulting expert must have a passion for creating a culture of Continuous Improvement in your organization, to bring-forth the desired positive change within prescribed time, scope and budget.
- The consulting expert must have the ability to speak up whenever top management is wrong.
- The consulting expert must have the ability to explain complex ideas in simple words.
- The consulting expert must have the ability to listen and must show openness to continuous learning.
- The consulting expert must have high emotional quotient (EQ). She/ he must be patient, persistent and persuasive while bringing on and/or managing change.
- Amnesia- This is the most vital criteria.The Continuous Improvement expert should forget all the good work she/he did with previous organizations- What worked there may not work at your workplace, as each company has its own set of business processes, people, organizational culture, office politics and associated problems as a result thereof. The continuous improvement expert should have a mindset of always ‘starting with a clean slate’.
Want to invite Shruti to speak at your organization or evaluate Continuous Improvement prospects for your business?