How do you feel about change?
As a general rule only about 20 percent of the general population are "change-friendly." They are the individuals who are willing to embrace change and perhaps even be an advocate for change. Another 50 percent of the folks are "fence sitters." They assume a neutral position, trying to figure out which way to lean. These people are not hostile to change, but they are not willing, without considerable prompting, to make change happen. The other 30 percent are the "resisters." They do not like change and will be antagonistic toward change and often make deliberate attempts to thwart change.
Assuming that employees within a facilities management organization follow typical norms the same percentages will exist. Some will embrace change, others will resist change, and the majority will adopt a "wait and see" attitude.
The term "continuous improvement" implies change. If there is a desire to improve a process, alter an attitude, or enhance an end product, some form of change must take place. Because we live and function within a rapidly changing world, change is inevitable. Technological improvements demands change. Technology is advancing so fast that change occurs in the "way things are done" at a staggering and ever-increasing pace. The world is changing. Changes are taking place within your institution. And changes are taking place within your facilities management organization.
Rather than dwell on the concept of change, perhaps it is more productive (and less threatening) to think in terms of improvement. And in a rapidly changing environment, the concept naturally becomes a continuously improving process.
In today's fast-paced world, the most successful organizations--including those that manage facilities--are committed to doing well those functions that are basic to the organization. They recognize that since everything around them is changing, they too must change or their methods, processes, and products will become obsolete. Therefore, continual improvement becomes the guarantee of survival and success.
Organizations that are successful focus on excellence and quality. They recognize that their products and services must be of superior quality, deliver good value, and improve with every iteration.
When an organization correctly implements quality improvement programs, everyone wins. The customer is happy with the product or service, employees take pride in and feel better about their jobs, and management is motivated to implement further improvements rather than just "putting out fires."
So if everyone wins, why are not all organizations involved in programs and initiatives that lead to improvement, excellence, and quality?
It seems to me there are at least four reason why some organizations have not joined the continuous improvement movement.
Organizations that resist change (for whatever the reason) may not survive. As their methods, programs, products and service become outdated, outmoded, obsolete, and antiquated, they are likely candidates for extinction much like the dinosaur. Some will surely fall by the wayside and be replaced by firms and organizations that are proactive in delivering quality products and services.
Well, is the situation hopeless for those organizations that have yet to "see the light" and be converted to receive the salvation offered by continuous improvement? Not really. There are some steps that can be taken to improve quality. Typically, organizations must walk before they run. An old Chinese proverb says, "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." There are several recognized measures that may be followed in order to improve quality within the organization.
For those interested in making change, your job is to justify the struggle and to aim your people toward something special. Plato said, "Those having torches will pass them to others." It's your role to carry the fire and pass the torch. Your survival and that of your organization may depend on it.