Baking & Snack - May 2018 - 121

Jim Kline

Change is inevitable,


but it can be managed.

Change is ongoing and, one can argue, unavoidable. On
a personal level, change results from a need to respond
to the variability of factors that affect our family, health,
social relationships, economics, communities and the
environment around us. As we know, businesses face the
same pressures from internal and external factors that
seem to remain in constant motion. Given that change
surrounds us, one would think we would become masters at handling it. But, as we well know, change - and
managing it - can be difficult.
A variety of continuous improvement systems have
been used with different levels of success by manufacturers from bun production to aircraft and by familyrun businesses to multinational corporations. The one
thing all these initiatives were designed for and reported
to deliver was positive change. Yet, when CEB, a bestpractice insight and technology company, studied 400
continuous improvement initiatives, they found less
than 35% succeeded.
Why is it when the goal is to make things better,
change is so difficult?
I suggest we need only look inward for the answer.
Our natural reaction is to ask, "Why?" The questions,
apprehension and feelings continue until the inevitable
event - change - happens.
There are several ways to ensure that change is
A good starting point is with analysis of the operation. What is actual performance? What are the actual
costs? What are the limitations and/or influencers to actual cost and performance? The current operation needs
to have performance documented and quantified and
the root causes understood. With the current operations
defined, what is the vision for the future? It is also time
to consider what the impact on the operation and the

business will be if changes are not made. The analysis
also enables a clear articulation of the compelling reason
for the change.
It also provides a true understanding of who benefits from it ... and who will not. If the change is
not positive for the individuals affected, it will be a
hard sell. For example, if a change necessitates job restructuring (as it frequently does), the business gains
through cost reduction. However, some employees
will see it as an increase in work or as job enrichment
while others will see their jobs disappear. Consider
who benefits and who does not, and plan to address
the needs and questions of each. With planning,
even job reductions can be minimized or mitigated
through hiring freezes, use of temporary workers and
retraining initiatives.
With the background work prepared, it is time to
plan how to move from today to the future. What resources will be needed? What will it cost? How long will
it take? How will it be managed? How will it be monitored? How will it be communicated? What will be the
results or the outlook if change is undertaken?
With a complete foundation and defined plan, it is
time to get employees involved and the things in motion. Communication with the workforce is essential.
Be prepared for varying feedback; employees may not
process the change the same as you and I do. Expect
the hard questions, and be prepared with the appropriate answers. In short order, it should not be hard to gain
employee involvement and create a participative environment around needed change.
Lastly, as change is made, manage it, monitor it and
make corrections as needed. Remember, it is the end vision that you are targeting, and as others get involved,
the path to that vision may vary a bit.

* / May 2018 Baking & Snack 121

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