05 Feb 2019
Process sustainability, why does it matter? After all, once a company deploys a programme, achieves its goals and has reaped the benefits, there is nothing more to do, right? Wrong. Process sustainability is a crucial element in any business success story. In this blog we uncover the five keys of sustainability, a self-perpetuating cycle to not only maintain the results, but continually build improvement through the application of a disciplined approach.
1 - Education and Training
Education and training should be ongoing to encourage personal development and the motivation to strive for improvement. The difference? Education is the "why" we do things the way we do, and the training is the "how" we do things, often referred to as "knowing how to press the buttons".
Many companies have induction education, which is usually more about the "who" and "what" of the company, than the "why". However, induction should place a heavy emphasis on the "why" and then be reinforced by annual ‘refresher’ sessions to re-energise people, look at what has been done and obtain feedback on improvements. This can also be timed to coincide with annual document reviews and updates to policies and procedures.
When it comes to training, we have found that a common mistake is for organisations to either provide superficial training, such as a PowerPoint presentations of screen shots, or to give access to the tools with no guidance. True integration should start with people and behaviour ensuring knowledge transfer has occurred and buy-in to appropriate behaviours has been gained. Knowledge does fade over time, so top-up sessions are always beneficial to keep things fresh, and it is essential that when new tools are installed, training is provided to ensure they are used and used optimally.
2 – Communication and Feedback
When Oliver Wight introduces programmes of work, there is always a communication plan to ensure timely information is shared. At the end of the programme this should be converted to an ongoing communication plan with a budget allocated, the strategic intent documented, and a detailed activity plan created – and measured for impact and relevance. Feedback then becomes fundamental in establishing a culture of two-way communication and continuously improving how we work together.
3 – Formality and Discipline
For sustainability to happen, policies (the rules for running the business) and procedures (the detailed process steps) are a fundamental and an essential discipline for embedding ways of working – you just need to keep it in control. If policies are the rules, they therefore need to be signed off by the CEO and Lead Team, and must include people's roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities. Supporting the policies, procedures should describe how the process flows from beginning to end. The test of a good policy and procedure is whether someone new to the business can follow the steps and engage in the process with minimum assistance.
4 – Role Descriptions
Role descriptions ‘join the dots’ from the roles defined in Policy, to what is identified in the role description. This assists in performance appraisals against specific roles (what a person does) responsibilities (how the person performs their role) and accountabilities (how the role is measured).
5 – Appraisals, and the Recognition and Reward Approach
If given the choice, people will always choose the path which will earn them the most recognition and reward. It is vital to align expectations, through role descriptions, so that people can be judged fairly during performance appraisals. If the description isn’t aligned, then there is a strong risk that people will be assessed subjectively.
Continual improvement is what divides the good from the great in business, and the organisations who understand that ‘improvement’ is an on-going journey, are the organisations that will achieve the greatest success.
To find out more on Process Sustainability read our white paper on the subject here.
Partner at Oliver Wight Asia Pacific
Based in Sydney, Australia, Rod has 15 years hands-on experience in the pharmaceutical industry and consulting, and is an accomplished strategist, with proven record of effective implementations that deliver tremendous value for his many blue-chip clients, which include Abbott Laboratories, British American Tobacco, Caterpillar, and Wrigley’s .