At the heart of the agile transformation lies to develop dynamic stable processes which is the biggest challenge that organizations must face in search of agility. First and foremost, it is important to distinguish between stable from standard at a process level. To begin with, a stable process was traditionally defined as a process under control without special causes of variation from a statistical point of view. On the other hand, through the ISO 9001 the vision of a standard process popularized in the west was “absence” of variability without any kind of control in most of the cases. Moreover, standardization from this perspective has led organizations to develop not only rigid processes but also lots of bureaucracy. However, in the east the standard work was defined in terms of a “way of working” from which knowledge is gained to improve the process throughout kaizen events. Thus, change is managed by alternating standard work cycles with kaizen events which instead of creating rigidity increases flexibility. Therefore, I believe that a new vision of knowledge and change management traditional concepts and current applications can open new possibilities within organizations to bring agility.
Daily knowledge gains and micromanagement
In the first place, knowledge management is an essential capability within organizations to capture, share and ensure in place and in use best practices. However, the current approach is more focus on outcomes than on the process itself, which in most of the cases leads organizations to concentrate their efforts only in getting best practices instead of understanding the process through which there are created. What is more, when organizations move from knowledge outcomes to focus on the process through which it is generated, they begin to inhabit the space of organizational learning that is the fundamental capability that underlies all the others. Furthermore, “micromanagement” of knowledge was included within traditional Process Control Methodology to ensure stable process, while “daily” knowledge gains at a “shop floor” level during the standard work cycles were of crucial importance to drive kaizen events and continuous improvement within the TPS. Therefore, an enlarged approach to knowledge management to include both daily knowledge gains and micromanagement is needed to develop dynamic stable processes.
Daily change readiness and maturity management
Another point to consider is also extend the current concept and application of change management within organizations mostly focus on external driven change. As with knowledge, the management of change must be incorporated within the process instead of being considered as an external capability. On one hand, daily knowledge gains must be assessed to develop current maturity baseline as well as to know its readiness for change to reach out the next performance level. Moreover, instead of only assessing process readiness for external driven changes, it is required to also assess its readiness for changes driven from within on daily basis. On the other hand, in the same way that readiness can be accelerated for external driven changes, it can be also enhanced for the already mentioned internal ones. Furthermore, by establishing both baseline and a clear vision of the future state, process maturity can not only be managed but also further developed following for example the ADKAR framework.
Developing and sustaining dynamic stable processes
To summarize, daily knowledge gains and micromanagement will empower organizations to have not only transparency in performance but also a deep understanding about effectiveness drivers to develop and sustain a stable process. Moreover, daily change management to assess and accelerate process readiness to reaching out the next performance level based on daily learnings will ensure not only a dynamic process increasing organization’s flexibility but also the development of new capabilities that can lead to competitive advantages. Furthermore, the combination of both daily knowledge and change management with a process approach will empower organizations to develop and sustain dynamic stable processes to not only drive agile transformation but also to grow their agility on daily basis. Einstein stated: “Once you stop learning, you start dying”. To conclude, I believe this can be applied to organizations as well as it is through agile knowledge and change management that daily learnings can be translated rapidly into action which is “the ultimate competitive advantage” as pointed out by Jack Welch.
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