Thursday, August 18, 2005

HBS Working Knowledge: Operations: Six Steps to Operational Innovation Seems like Michael Hammer has caught up to his old buddy James Champy (the two of them were behind the business process re-engineering craze of the mid-90s) in jumping on the innovation bandwagon - hey, better late than never!

In this article in HBS' Management Update, he sets out 6 key factors that make the difference between success and failure in the innovation:

1) Process focus - focusing your innovation efforts on a very small area, means that you are also limiting the scope of the benefits you'll get from innovation.

2) Process owners
- Assign a process owner (a senior executive empowered to make the changes needed) to own the process for the whole enterprise.

3) Full-time design team
- Use a full-time team to conduct the necessary process redesign rather than asking team members to do this part-time. Then invest in them - their education, methodology, etc.

4) Managerial Engagement - Actively engage the senior management team in the implementation process to make sure the projects don't languish in limbo and to ensure that departmental heads are released from their narrow focus to instead consider the end-to-end implications.

5) Building Buy-In - Engage participants throughout the redesign process so as to engage and enable buy-in into the process as it is developed, and to reduce the stress of future changes.

6) Bias for Action - Develop a solution that provides most but not all desired capabilities, get into the field quickly, and then enhance it over time. This approach allows concepts to be tested, builds momentum and credibility, and delivers early benefits that silence critics and sway doubters.

Overall an interesting short piece (he uses Scheider as a case study in this) that has some good, if slightly re-hashed, tips for change management and process design.

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