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Title: Managing Through Continuous Improvement: If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you

Abstract

The past 24 months has been one of non-stop continuous improvement – every month, every week, every day, and every hour. It has been filled with continuously re-examining and challenging business systems, work processes, and legacy culture. The journey was difficult, but well worth it. It began by examining the existing conditions in each organization and building the case for change. When we stepped back and looked at our processes, systems, tools, and performance objectively, we realized we were struggling with frequent organizational, resource, and schedule conflicts, work processes that were not well-defined or expert based, project delays were common, management methods were predominantly reactive, advanced planning was limited to the near-term, no integration in scheduling across organizations, limited to no performance metrics to measure and manage performance, and internal and external customers did not feel like we were meeting their quality and performance expectations. It was a wake-up call. Change began at the top with a change leadership with where a new vision, expectations, and commitment were established. Leaving no stone left unturned, every aspect of the business was challenged which opened up communication and exposed the gaps. This was done in a ‘safe’ environment allowing for honest andmore » solution-oriented discussion and action. The leadership team committed to managing through continuous improvement. The organizational structure was realigned to better align scope, responsibilities, execution, and customer focus. Visibility and transparency became the norm as higher levels of leadership and supporting organizations were invited to be part of regular strategy meetings and partnership discussion, effectively opening up the dialogue. This required a tremendous amount of trust and faith in a short period of time. Health assessments were conducted on each organization with specific lines of inquiry. These self-assessments helped to identify better define the scope of the organization and where targeted improvements were needed. Frequent organizational reviews were implemented to answer three fundamental questions: 1) What is your organization paid to do (scope)?, 2) How does your organization, or you, demonstrate that you are doing the job effectively?, and 3) What are you doing to improve your performance? To answer the first question, leaders defined the scope of the organization. Leaders were required to provide a path forward, with specific actions, where performance was not at expected levels internally at first and then from the stakeholders. Where business processes were not clearly understood, process maps were developed to provide this clarity for both those performing the work and those utilizing the process – the customers. To help answer the second question, numerous automated or semi-automated real-time, dynamic performance metrics were developed and implement to help leaders gain the visibility and demonstrate performance in six areas of operational excellence: safety, security, quality, effectiveness, productivity, and sustainability. Analysis of the performance provided windows of transparency and trends of work performance, work delays, cycle times, utilization, and much more that revealed many areas of improvement that were either not visible or desired to be visible. At the same time, they provided real-time progress which generated initial performance improvements by just beginning to measure. To address the third question, where systems did not support effectiveness of an existing or new process, then systems and tools were developed and implemented to drive the right behaviors and reinforce the processes. Tools and metrics were one of the major catalysts for culture shift and change. Risk assessments were leveraged into continuous improvement strategies, plans, and schedules. Targeted initiatives were identified and performed. Change and improvement was not, and is not, without significant and common challenges including limited/fixed budgets, resource availability, data access, natural resistance to change, and numerous other reasons or excuses – we called them ‘off-ramps’ and began to close them one-by-one. The results and outputs were significant and impactful in each organization and across the business with increased productivity, efficiency, visibility, accountability, management, and performance. Stakeholder satisfaction also increased. Cost and time savings allowed to more continuous improvement efforts to be performed. The effort clearly provided clear and measurable return on investment and value. Efforts that once seemed impossible, not feasible, or not achievable were performed. Decades-long issues were solved. ‘Impossible things are simply those which so far have never been done’ said Elbert Hubbard. So what will the next year be for you and your organization? Are you satisfied with the ‘same ‘ol, same ‘ol?’ Will you fall into the complacency trap and believe that change is too difficult, too expensive, and not necessary (or any number of possible excuses) or will you make this year your year or continuous improvement (and every year thereafter…)? Remember – what you do today can improve all your tomorrows’ (Ralph Marston).« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [2]
  1. Nevada National Security Site, Mission Support and Test Services LLC
  2. Proactive Tools LLC
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Nevada National Security Site/Mission Support and Test Services LLC
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1488488
Report Number(s):
DOE/NV/03624-0298
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-NA0003624
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: Energy Facility Contractors Group (EFCOG) meetings; Related Information: https://efcog.org/library/
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
99 GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS; 96 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT AND PRESERVATION

Citation Formats

Nelson, Jerel, Morris, Patrick, Negrete, Dawn, and Kruskall, G. N. Managing Through Continuous Improvement: If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. United States: N. p., 2018. Web.
Nelson, Jerel, Morris, Patrick, Negrete, Dawn, & Kruskall, G. N. Managing Through Continuous Improvement: If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. United States.
Nelson, Jerel, Morris, Patrick, Negrete, Dawn, and Kruskall, G. N. Fri . "Managing Through Continuous Improvement: If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you". United States. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1488488.
@article{osti_1488488,
title = {Managing Through Continuous Improvement: If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you},
author = {Nelson, Jerel and Morris, Patrick and Negrete, Dawn and Kruskall, G. N.},
abstractNote = {The past 24 months has been one of non-stop continuous improvement – every month, every week, every day, and every hour. It has been filled with continuously re-examining and challenging business systems, work processes, and legacy culture. The journey was difficult, but well worth it. It began by examining the existing conditions in each organization and building the case for change. When we stepped back and looked at our processes, systems, tools, and performance objectively, we realized we were struggling with frequent organizational, resource, and schedule conflicts, work processes that were not well-defined or expert based, project delays were common, management methods were predominantly reactive, advanced planning was limited to the near-term, no integration in scheduling across organizations, limited to no performance metrics to measure and manage performance, and internal and external customers did not feel like we were meeting their quality and performance expectations. It was a wake-up call. Change began at the top with a change leadership with where a new vision, expectations, and commitment were established. Leaving no stone left unturned, every aspect of the business was challenged which opened up communication and exposed the gaps. This was done in a ‘safe’ environment allowing for honest and solution-oriented discussion and action. The leadership team committed to managing through continuous improvement. The organizational structure was realigned to better align scope, responsibilities, execution, and customer focus. Visibility and transparency became the norm as higher levels of leadership and supporting organizations were invited to be part of regular strategy meetings and partnership discussion, effectively opening up the dialogue. This required a tremendous amount of trust and faith in a short period of time. Health assessments were conducted on each organization with specific lines of inquiry. These self-assessments helped to identify better define the scope of the organization and where targeted improvements were needed. Frequent organizational reviews were implemented to answer three fundamental questions: 1) What is your organization paid to do (scope)?, 2) How does your organization, or you, demonstrate that you are doing the job effectively?, and 3) What are you doing to improve your performance? To answer the first question, leaders defined the scope of the organization. Leaders were required to provide a path forward, with specific actions, where performance was not at expected levels internally at first and then from the stakeholders. Where business processes were not clearly understood, process maps were developed to provide this clarity for both those performing the work and those utilizing the process – the customers. To help answer the second question, numerous automated or semi-automated real-time, dynamic performance metrics were developed and implement to help leaders gain the visibility and demonstrate performance in six areas of operational excellence: safety, security, quality, effectiveness, productivity, and sustainability. Analysis of the performance provided windows of transparency and trends of work performance, work delays, cycle times, utilization, and much more that revealed many areas of improvement that were either not visible or desired to be visible. At the same time, they provided real-time progress which generated initial performance improvements by just beginning to measure. To address the third question, where systems did not support effectiveness of an existing or new process, then systems and tools were developed and implemented to drive the right behaviors and reinforce the processes. Tools and metrics were one of the major catalysts for culture shift and change. Risk assessments were leveraged into continuous improvement strategies, plans, and schedules. Targeted initiatives were identified and performed. Change and improvement was not, and is not, without significant and common challenges including limited/fixed budgets, resource availability, data access, natural resistance to change, and numerous other reasons or excuses – we called them ‘off-ramps’ and began to close them one-by-one. The results and outputs were significant and impactful in each organization and across the business with increased productivity, efficiency, visibility, accountability, management, and performance. Stakeholder satisfaction also increased. Cost and time savings allowed to more continuous improvement efforts to be performed. The effort clearly provided clear and measurable return on investment and value. Efforts that once seemed impossible, not feasible, or not achievable were performed. Decades-long issues were solved. ‘Impossible things are simply those which so far have never been done’ said Elbert Hubbard. So what will the next year be for you and your organization? Are you satisfied with the ‘same ‘ol, same ‘ol?’ Will you fall into the complacency trap and believe that change is too difficult, too expensive, and not necessary (or any number of possible excuses) or will you make this year your year or continuous improvement (and every year thereafter…)? Remember – what you do today can improve all your tomorrows’ (Ralph Marston).},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {11}
}

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