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Change Management in Industry

10 October 2022
Article by Luiz Rodrigues, consultant in Industrial Engineering and Management at INEGI.

Industry is particularly susceptible to technological progress, so change and transformation are constant in this sector. The effective consolidation of the change, however, appears as a great challenge in the execution of new projects. To avoid unexpected adversities that compromise the sustainability of the business, management in the industry involves not only anticipating change, but also creating new paradigms.

The ability to react in a flexible manner to changes is essential in any project, whether the objective is to reach the forefront of industry trends or maintain current market share.

Within the scope of our consultancy work in industrial engineering and management, we have followed the implementation of several change processes, knowing, therefore, that the accelerated pace of transformations in this sector impacts not only the processes, but also the people, and it's essential for it to be in line with new challenges imposed by the market.

How to manage change efficiently?

To ensure the success of a transformation proposal, the process must be systematic and strategic. Defining the steps and associated quick wins contributes positively to the support and consolidation of the required transformation. Therefore, the following steps are crucial in this process:

Picture of the current situation

Before diving into the acquisition and implementation of transformations, companies should spend time and resources on identifying the needs for change, the specific areas that can be changed, and a proper cost-benefit analysis and prioritization.

After collecting stakeholder inputs at various levels of the organization, a robust picture of the expected functionality of the project across the entire value chain is obtained. This makes it possible to design solutions and define requirements for implementation.

Change planning

A large part of the industrial fabric does not define an integrated roadmap for the execution of the change, causing initiatives in the industrial units that do not dialogue with the global reality of the organization. It is essential to define the project schedule, its scope and the associated maturity level.

These isolated approaches in an attempt to keep up with modernization, called siled implementations, generally present few real gains for the business. Opportunities for synergies between people, technologies and implementation areas are missed. Even more, it may happen that change never passes from plan to practice.

Involvement of the entire team

In order to put plans into practice, employee action will be vital. This is, in general, the critical point in the implementation of improvements and not the lack of information systems or equipment, situations that can be solved, as long as there is investment capacity on the part of the organization. Changes in people's culture, habits and way of working are not implemented by decree, nor can they be resolved with just investments. They require time, training and a lot of resilience on the part of leaders.

Therefore, it is vital to monitor the different impacts of change, especially in case of resistance to change by employees and stakeholders, so that it is possible to reach a point of no return, where the change has effectively been endogenized in the organization.

The shop floor team must be convened from the start. Changes lead to strong reactions, such as reactivity to the new. If employees are involved in the decision process, they will feel responsible and more committed to the transformation.

Pilot implementation

For better control of variables, error mitigation and little initial investment, it is recommended to run the solution in a pilot space. This works both for testing changes before full implementation and for developers. The more believable and visual the pilot is, the more likely the team is to recognize the positive impacts and collaborate on the change.

At this stage, it is also possible to discard unfeasible projects, or to identify transformation synergies in different areas. The change process can have implications for your relationship with customers, your organizational structure, your market positioning, and your production process. In this way, it is of great value to measure the changes through pilots.

The choice of pilot is very important. There is sometimes the temptation to select the pilot with the greatest impact on the final result, but what is really important is that it is easy to implement: a success that conquers the organization and opens the way for these more impactful transformations.

Change rollout

After validating the proposed solutions, there should be a structured transition that addresses real business needs and current performance challenges in a pragmatic way. To maximize the value of the overall implementation of the change, indicators should be established that make project results visible, measuring «before» and «after».

In addition, the daily process of monitoring change management is essential. The involvement of the entire team, from management to field employees, ensures that the new technologies, operations and structures created are continually improved. This follow-up, carried out with focus and agility, allows organizations to be at the forefront of transformations, contributing to their sustainable growth.

Related Pages

Consulting | Industrial Engineering and Management

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