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Getting Cooperation in Fact Finding

The cooperation of operating people is crucial to fact gathering. However, if the operating people believe that the purpose of the fact gathering is to make changes in the work with the object of reducing staff, it is naïve to expect them to help. The key to obtaining cooperation is two-way loyalty and trust. We get this by commitment to developing improvements that simultaneously serve the interests of employees while they serve the interests of owners, managers and customers.

Process improvement projects should be undertaken with the object of making the company as good as it can be, not reducing staff. Of course process improvements will change the work, often eliminating tasks. This is obvious. Not quite so obvious is the fact that eliminating tasks does not have to mean reducing staff. It can mean having resources available at no additional cost to do any number of things needed by the organization, not the least of which could be further improvement work. And, no one is in a better position to improve the work than the people who know it first hand. When organizations are truly commited to their people and their people know this, their people can relax and enthusiastically commit themselves to continuous improvement.

This article is written for companies that want to capture the enormous potential of enthusiastic employees embracing new technology. They cannot accomplish this with lip service. The employees of an organization are its most valuable resource. When executives say this sort of thing publicly but then treat their people as expenses to be gotten rid of at the first opportunity, that is lip service. Resources should be maintained and utilized, not dumped. When they are dumped, trust dissolves.

Meanwhile the people and their society have changed significantly in the last few decades. The popularization of computers stands high among the factors that have contributed to recent social change. Young people are being exposed to computers early in their education. A sizeable portion of the work force is comfortable working with computers. This was certainly not so a generation ago.

Another social change that is very important to process improvement is the increasing acceptance of involving operating level employees in the improvement process. It has become rather commonplace to form teams of operating people. Along with the increasing acceptance of employee involvement has come a dramatic change in the role of the internal consultant who is learning new skills for working with teams.

This article addresses the role of the facilitator who gathers facts about work processes to use with an improvement team. The facilitator follows a work process as it passes through departmental boundaries and prepares an As-is Chart. Then an improvement team made up of people from the departments involved in the process studies the As-is Chart and develops a To-be Chart. Facilitators learn how to study work processes. Facilitators are a great help as they gather and organizing the facts of work processes and guide the study of those facts by improvement teams.


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