An Educational Process for Change and Improvement Efforts

Jim Clemmer

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"Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject. " — Thomas Mann, early 20th century German novelist and essayist

Once a management team has established a change and improvement plan, there are many ways to help everyone in the organization understand what's going on and why. These include one-on-one discussions, group presentations, workshops or seminars, videos, printed materials, and the like. The best approaches are personal and interactive. Rather than just presenting the changes or improvement plan, effective education and communication engages everyone in discussions that deepens understanding and provides feedback, options, and further ideas to the team guiding the improvement effort. That's why workshops or seminars featuring presentations and discussions by senior managers are such an effective educational tool in the improvement process.

Following are the key components in roughly the order they might be used in an educational workshop or seminar. Obviously those points that will be the most important to the audience, the organization's culture, and the direction management is trying to move toward need to be stressed or highlighted. Why Should We Change or Improve? — this is the first and most critical step. Changes and improvements that's don't seem to have solid reasons behind them look whimsical. They will (and should) be resisted. Those reasons should talk in terms of the audience’s interests.

Balancing Leadership, Management, and Technology — everyone needs to understand this critical balance. Managers might pinpoint where the organization or team is now, and what needs to change in order to move to a better balance.

Self-Leadership — leadership is an action not a position. The organization needs to be “leaderful. " In today’s fast-changing world, we need everyone to be proactive and take the initiative to continuously improve themselves, their teams, and the organization.

Focus and Context — the team or organization vision, values, and purpose need to be clear and compelling. We can also help everyone develop their personal Focus and Context and look for ways to align their own with those of their team and the organization.

Customers/Partners — understanding and drawing a customer-partner chain (with performance gap data if available) that puts the audience we're working with into the middle of the big picture. Organizational Learning and Innovation — outline and discuss how the organization is searching for deeper latent/unmet needs, exploring new markets, experimenting, and learning from clumsy tries. Then clarify the role and involvement of the audience.

Team and Organization Goals and Priorities — present and discuss team and/or organization's strategic imperatives, improvement targets, and key measures. Outline and discuss the cascading goals and objectives along with the ongoing review process the audience will be involved in.

The Improvement Model, Plan, and Process — introduce, update, or clarify the improvement model being used and why. Walk through all the sub-components and the plans that have been developed (or are developing) for this planning period. These should include improvement structure and process, process management, teams, skill development, measurement and feedback, organization structure and systems, continuing education and communication strategies, reward and recognition, and plans for regularly reviewing, assessing, celebrating, and refocusing the improvement process.

Improvement Tools, Techniques, Principles and Practices — introduce or review the methods that the team and/or organization will be using. Discuss how this group will be trained and expected to use the improvement tools and approaches.

Next Steps — explain what's going to happen next and how the audience can expect — and will be expected — to become further involved in the improvement effort.

Jim Clemmer is a bestselling author and internationally acclaimed keynote speaker, workshop/retreat leader, and management team developer on leadership, change, customer focus, culture, teams, and personal growth. During the last 25 years he has delivered over two thousand customized keynote presentations, workshops, and retreats. Jim's five international bestselling books include The VIP Strategy, Firing on All Cylinders, Pathways to Performance, Growing the Distance, and The Leader's Digest. His web site is


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