Achieving 'Sticktuitiveness'

The results of "sticktuitiveness" are solid performance on a consistent basis across all performance metrics.

Statements such as, “We used to do that and quit,” or “We tried that once and stopped,” are common responses to inquiries regarding attempts to promote change and improvements in many organizations. These responses are common place for such change efforts as basic as the 5-S implementation to the more complex implementations of ERP system modules. The starting, stopping and restarting of continuous improvement efforts in many of the facilities we visit are indicative of an inability to create “sticktuitiveness.” In today’s lean organizations, as well as in attempts to create lean enterprises/cultures, sustenance of change or “sticktuitiveness” is difficult to achieve for a few of the following simple reasons:
 
• We often dictate change that has been created by individuals in a vacuum without achieving the ownership or “buy in” of the culture to the objective or the approach of the change.
 
• We neglect to create the correct measures/metrics to track or communicate the effectiveness of the desired change and monitor for needed corrections in course or direction through a robust PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) discipline.
 
• We do not support the effort throughout the management team and fail to reinforce the effort with the continued emphasis and reinforcement required.
 
• We might not include cross functional representation in the “buy in” of the activity, creation of the appropriate metrics, and may not achieve management support from all departments effected.
 
To address these potential reasons for failure to achieve sustained change, a cultural shift might be in order. This sustenance of change requires a culture with a foundation rooted in the values of transparency, collaboration and trust. If the entity is shrouded in secrecy, combative without compromise, or is suspicious of the motives, then there is a need to transform the day to day focus to a more positive routine. 
 
We may have made significant progress and improvements with these focused efforts, but in a lot of cases failed to cascade or sustain this progress throughout our business processes. There will need to be a dedicated, communicated effort over a period of time before the desired cultural shift begins to be realized. 
 
Following a few basic principles can aid in progressing towards the initial cultural swing. These also become the basis for reinforcing and maintaining “sticktuitiveness” in the effort of creating lasting change in the organization’s grassroots efforts to improve and create a culture receptive to change on a broader scale:
 
Though the word “team” is sometimes overused in describing the organization’s inter-workings, it is important to solicit input from the effected group once the clear objective is defined. 
 
Discussing how to measure, visually broadcast, and at what points to recalibrate the direction and the initiative is important. If the measure or metric is difficult to get on a daily basis, it may be necessary to redefine the scope of the effort, or a different metric may be needed. 
 
Raising the visibility of the effort throughout the organization should be achieved through timely communication with the measures being well publicized and refreshed daily to establish importance. Establishing small group follow-up meetings regarding the status of the effort and needs of the group are critical. In the lean enterprises that celebrate the most, the “sticktuitiveness” of a project, program or initiative has a clear definition of desired change, a collaborative model for input from all subject matter experts, and cross functional ownership to foster the success of the effort.
 
The best manufacturing companies today have worked to develop this “sticktuitiveness.” They have put countless hours in the development of the team and the processes necessary to drive this culture. The results are solid performance on a consistent basis across all performance metrics, including throughput, quality, productivity, morale and the most important, profitability.