Organizations have tremendous hidden capacity for improvement and change. This capacity surfaces spontaneously during crises or must-do situations—when “zest factors” are present. Most managers, unaware of all the hidden capacity, bet their chips on big-fix programs. But the big programs do not take into consideration the hundreds of grassroots implementation changes necessary for success. Building capability at the micro-implementation level is the only way to enable larger changes to occur. Rapid Results projects, pioneered by our partners Schaffer Consulting, avoid the unhealthy by-products attributed to short-term action.
So whenever possible, we organize initiatives around a 100 day time frame to ensure rapid results. A rapid results project is a focused effort that can generate zest, can be achieved quickly, usually lasts seventy-five to one hundred days, and yields a successful result with tangible rewards while simultaneously providing a developmental breakthrough for the organization.
Why a rapid results approach?
In many organizations, implementation skills are weak, so in most places, the big go-for-broke projects, no matter how well conceived, inevitably fall far short of their potential. This grim reality can be overcome only if, as part of any major change program, serious attention is devoted to strengthening the execution capability of many staff. And that is precisely what rapid results projects do.
Rapid results projects are designed to achieve—in a very short time—actual, measurable results in a strategically important sphere. They are also designed to introduce new ways of accomplishing work and new ways of managing. Each project of a hundred days (plus or minus) is a miniature organization development step. Each is designed to bring together new combinations of people and functions and to strengthen work methods and management practices. And each is designed to reinforce success, which develops new-found confidence.
Rapid-cycle successes are powerful vehicles for developing the grassroots capability to execute major change. Every project strengthens the organization’s change capacity by a modest but significant amount. All that is needed to make huge gains is to carry out many rapid-cycle projects, over and over, in expanding waves. Each one is carefully orchestrated, and as increasing numbers of them are run, they blend together into a symphony of change. As implementation capacity throughout an organization grows, and as the confidence of managers increases, the connection between large-scale visions and their grassroots implementation is better understood. Senior management can set increasingly large goals with the growing knowledge of how to mobilize their entire organization in achieving them.
What are the benefits of rapid results projects?
- Fast positive payoffs;
- work process innovations;
- quick learning and development;
- confidence booster to take on other business challenges;
- focus on an important goal;
- measurable stretch result;
- works in the short term;
- pinpoints clear accountability;
- drives experimentation and ignores red tape;
- is planned and disciplined;
- makes learning a deliberate outcome;
- pride of accomplishment.
Rapid results projects test large-scale change in low-risk ways. They begin with action and results, not preparations. Rapid results projects need to be carefully designed to provide both results and learning—thus setting the stage for expanding scope. These short-term projects complement, but do not replace, long-term efforts.
You get the idea. It’s the responsibility of managers to make things better. Rapid-cycle projects provide a way to exercise that responsibility. Each project yields a dividend of learning: how to select the best goal; how to generate interest and motivation to act on the goal; how to create a strategy and do the problem solving needed to come up with a workable strategy; how to generate cooperative effort and overcome obstacles and diversions; how to integrate various efforts needed to get the results; how to reward success; how to manage such projects to put maximum reliance on the people who do the work. Each project can help overcome common dysfunctional syndromes and bypass the perpetual preparations.
Every manager has opportunities to accelerate progress with rapid results projects, starting today. Better operational implementation itself can be a competitive advantage. Rapid results projects can be used to improve current performance, strengthen collaboration with customers, or attack soft goals such as diversity and worker safety. Rapid results can help create a culture of operational success and implementation excellence.
But can we do it?
The “zest factors” named by thousands of managers as the generators of super performance in must-do situations are:
- a sense of urgency—results needed quickly;
- success near and clear ;
- personal accountability;
- collaboration-a new esprit;
- exciting, novel, game-like.
Why do organizations shy away from short term projects?
It is not uncommon to hear business leaders make statements such as, “We have too much going on to undertake any more projects for a while.” This often means that the usual suspects—a small number of able senior people—are drowning in special assignments and one-time projects while the rest of the organization goes about its routine work. Naturally, if the same fifteen or twenty people are exclusively the keys to change, they will also function as the limits to change. To develop truly superior implementation capability, it is necessary that large numbers of people at all levels share responsibility for making change happen. When hundreds or thousands of people are mobilized, the potential multiplies many times.
In what situations can the rapid results approach yield success?
- achieving incremental sales;
- getting to market faster on targeted growth opportunities with long time frames;
- partnering with customers to develop product modifications that would meet unique needs;
- finding new markets for old products;
- modifying old products for new uses;
- providing unique value-added services that would enhance the customer’s benefits in dealing with the company.
Major change requires mobilization of large numbers of people, not just the same old reliables. Initial rapid results projects may be modest in scope, but many can then be launched quickly. A few pilot breakthroughs set the pattern for the rest. Large numbers of people and functions can be involved rapidly.
Keep in mind that GE made frequent use of its GE Work-Out methodology to prove that it can be used for mobilizing large numbers of people in rapid-cycle change–quickly. Other companies have successfully adopted the rapid results approach to dramatically accelerate growth and achieve huge business goals. Isn’t time you considered this proven methodology as well?
To discuss how Avidium, in partnership with Schaffer Consulting, can help you, please contact us today.