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Key to Successful Change - Resolve conflict.

Posted On : Oct-26-2009 | seen (492) times | Article Word Count : 1055 |

Unfortunately, change, however insignificant, is usually resisted because people are fearful of its consequences. Even if the results are not job-threatening, there is always the suspicion that change, particularly when aimed at reducing costs, “…will somehow end up affecting my pay and benefits”.
Surely, once we have identified the key issue that is getting in the way of our progress, our core problem, finding a solution is simple. All we have to do is invite people to do things differently. What is all the fuss about? Implementing change is easy. I don’t expect anyone will object to an action which so clearly will benefit the company, right?


Unfortunately, change, however insignificant, is usually resisted because people are fearful of its consequences. Even if the results are not job-threatening, there is always the suspicion that change, particularly when aimed at reducing costs, “…will somehow end up affecting my pay and benefits”.

So, not only must we implement change, we must also resolve conflict.

A Holistic Approach

When attempting to improve an organisation’s performance we should embrace a holistic approach. Why? Because changing part of the system may have significant implications (positive as well as negative) on the other parts, so it’s always best to have a full view of the system when launching an improvement initiative.

Usually, there are endless things that can be improved, and all improvement initiatives require the use of limited resources (time, money, manpower…), so we must identify the best area of the system on which to focus our attention.

Many local improvements do not improve the performance of the organisation as a whole, so for the best outcome, we must look at the system as a whole, not just its components. To understand the benefits of a holistic approach we must realise that a change in one place has ramifications in another. There are cause-and-effect relationships that need to be understood.

Once we understand these, we can focus on where we get the greatest bang for our buck!

This sounds pretty straight forward, until we consider that our ability to achieve change is heavily dependent upon human behaviour; people are strongly influenced by how they are measured.

How we manage operations is expressed and controlled by the measures we use.

Imagine we need to increase output and reduce costs. Increasing output implies employing our assets effectively in order to maximise our throughput, employing our resources in such a way as to achieve our goal.

How many operations can you think of where an operator’s efficiency is measured by the number of widgets produced – a local measure of efficiency? The underlying assumption being that an idle resource is a major waste.

Let’s see what happens when we apply local efficiencies as a measure…

Suppose that a measure of efficiency in our company is “widgets/hour” (it could just as easily be patients/hour, or phone calls/hour or documents processed/hour). Since people respond to how they are measured, what happens when we apply widgets/hour as a metric?

* Departments try to maximise their performance as measured by widgets/hour (“Must produce as much as possible; my bonus depends on it”). Some items need less time per widget to produce than others, so…

a. People tend to produce the fast items at the expense of the slower ones, which results in:

– Poor due date performance
– Increased customer complaints

b. To maximise performance, departments tend to produce for stock even when there is limited demand, which results in:

– High stock levels

c. Every additional setup reduces the measured “widget/hour”. What results?

– Orders are pulled ahead to increase batch sizes.

Conclusion: As long as we continue to use local efficiency as a key performance measure we will continue to have undesirable effects.

If the measure of efficiency (e.g. units/hour) is responsible for damaging side effects, why do so many organisations use it? To get to grips with this, we must understand why the system complies with a problematic policy/measure. Whenever such a policy continues to exist it means that we have reasons not to change it.

* On one hand, we want to change the policy because it damages the process.
* On the other hand, we comply with the policy because we are afraid that changing it will remove something else the system needs.

To change or not to change? A CONFLICT underlies every policy.

Conflict Resolution

The common way to deal with a conflict is to look for a compromise to try and satisfy both needs. But compromise doesn’t solve the conflict! The best we will manage is only partially to satisfy both needs.

Is there a better compromise? We’ve had the problem for a while; we’ve tried most things we can think of; even if we find a better compromise, the improvement will probably be minimal.

Why put up with the hassle! There must be a better way to resolve the conflict; one that doesn’t involve compromise.

The good solution

My definition of a good solution is one that offers a quantum improvement and exceeds our expectations.

However while a conflict remains, we can’t fulfil both needs simultaneously. A good solution must remove the conflict by showing that one of the requirements is not necessary, which can only be achieved by invalidating the assumption that explains why the requirement is necessary in the first place!

In the above example we demonstrated that having resources always utilised is not necessarily a sound policy. The assumption that we should strive to maximise the efficiency of each resource is invalid because it reduces the global performance of the system. Making a resource work and making money out of its work are not synonymous!

The only circumstance in which a resource should be used to capacity is if the resource is a bottleneck - more about that later.


When faced with seemingly conflicting requirements to meet your objective,

* Articulate the problem and reveal the conflict
* Bring to the surface all underlying assumptions
* Identify all conditions which are necessary and sufficient to meet objectives
* Invalidate any assumption not meeting these conditions or,
* Take action to invalidate an assumption

Having invalidated an assumption, the conflict no longer exists. We are now well on our way to finding a solution rather than a compromise.

Article Source : to Successful Change - Resolve conflict._4552.aspx

Author Resource :
Dartnell : Business Planning Services

Keywords : planning a business, business planning services,

Category : Business : Management

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