Initiating the Process of Change
As we approach the New Year, I sit here pondering what my New Year’s resolution will be for 2014. Last year I set out to lose weight and I stand proudly knowing I was persistent over the year. Not an easy task and not without struggle. Weight control is extremely difficult for me since I’m constantly surrounded by good food and rarely have time for anything. Overall, I’m satisfied with my performance for the year. The real test will be to see if I can sustain and keep up with the lifestyle change. A positive change is worthless unless one can sustain and continuously strive to improve over and over again. But the first step is to identify an opportunity for change and know the end result will be for the better good.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill
Change as defined in the Webster dictionary is “to become different; to make (someone or something) different; to become something else”. An appetite for change is a precursor to improvement. Change, as I see it, is a life-long journey in search of perfection by continuously improving. It is largely unpredictable due to its companions, Fear and Uncertainty.
To help overcome this fear and uncertainty in an organization, change must start with buy-in from the common stakeholders. Change is a process. Empower the common stakeholder to take ownership of the process. Let them participate and understand the need for change and it will be a more meaningful and lasting change. After all, they are the ones closer to it than anyone else and can identify weak points and strengths of the current process. I always find better results when the owners of the process participate.
DAMAIC (pronounced Duh-May-ick) is a Lean Six Sigma tool that can help guide the change and is an abbreviation of 5 improvement steps:
1. Define – Define the problem or item that you want to change. Develop your goals and develop your strategy for improvement. Get stakeholder agreement.
2. Measure – Measure the process to understand current and future state.
3. Analyze – Identify areas for improvement based off of your findings in your measurements. Brainstorm and find areas where change can produce effective results.
4. Improve – Develop an improvement plan to improve process deficiencies. Improvements are continuous and stakeholder feedback and participation are necessary in this phase.
5. Control – Ensure future state is sustainable. Continue to measure and monitor process and ensure process is on target and in a stable condition.
Let’s use my previous New Year’s resolution and apply this technique as an example. It also shows that this can be applied to not only work related processes but outside events.
Define – The item I wanted to change was my weight. My goal was to live a healthier lifestyle and shed some pounds.
Measure – Measurement was my beginning weight and I made it a point to weigh myself every week on the same day and at the same hour. I chose to weigh myself every Friday at 6:00 in the morning. I started to track my daily caloric intake and also started to keep notes of my weekly weight.
Analyze – The data I was collecting was used to see what was working and what still needed changing. One thing that was clear was my daily caloric intake was too high and I wasn’t burning enough of it by the end of the day.
Improve – Improvement plan was to reduce my daily caloric intake. I also added exercise to my daily routine, just so I can still enjoy good food but was careful not to exceed my daily caloric intake goal.
Control – After about 6 months of effort, I hit my goal. Now that my ideal weight goal was met, control is the most challenging stage. I’ll continue to monitor my intake and still keep on my exercise program as best as I can. I have to admit, it is extremely hard to stay motivated, especially since the goal was met. Usually in this stage you have to realign or reset the goal and keep up with what is working. Sustaining is the hardest part and if the pounds start coming back, I can go back to the Analyze phase and repeat the process.
Sounds simple enough but in all honesty, this has been a long struggle for me. I can’t say this approach to weight loss will work for everyone but the beauty of this is you can tailor the plan as you see fit. I would highly recommend you consult with your doctor first.
As I mentioned earlier, sustaining is the most important factor in the DMAIC process. The final “C” usually fades and the project is slowly dropped when the goal is met. Don’t stop and drop the final stage. There will be initial gains in a DMAIC process but if control is not ongoing, you will eventually lose your investment and it will be a lost project.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Bring in the New Year with positive change and try your hand at using DMAIC.