When an improvement intervention is implemented, a reinforcing process ensues, resulting in improved performance. After a while though, a balancing or stabilizing process will kick in and will limit the growth, slowing down the improvement. These stabilizing processes exist within the organization structure, either as a formal process or policy, but sometimes they may also be hidden and exist in the subconscious of the teams.
The correct structures are the foundation to the transformation of an organization. Get this right, and changes made over time will be lasting and will be committed to by everyone. Balancing or stabilizing processes must be identified as soon as they appear, so that they don’t affect the overall improvement process. Let’s define what structures are, then we can look at the impact of changes.
- Reporting structure is very important in sending a message to teams, you can promote interaction and productivity with certain structures or alternatively limit progress with others. Structures focus teams in the business on targets that are key to the vision and strategy. Structures need to promote interdependency and collaboration.
- Policies that control the way people conduct themselves, such as ethics, education & training and the use of IT systems can create an environment of learning and growth, setting the stage for the development of the learning organization. Policies need to support collaboration and need to be reviewed regularly to eliminate balancing processes that stifle growth.
- Making sure that the correct skills sit at the correct levels, and where gaps are identified, training programs must be in place to strengthen them. Succession planning is very important in a learning organization, you need to show that there is progression in the organization for those who deserve it.
- Walk the walk and talk the talk is the role that must be played by senior management and the Leadership of the organization. Organizations need an inclusive Leadership style to ensure that organizational learning becomes central to its strategy. Leadership cannot delegate transformation and observe, they need to lead and drive it.