During change, there is a 3 to 4 times higher chance of employees getting disengaged or even leaving. Successful change and improvement do not happen overnight, but without them you are nowhere. You need structure – a conscious approach – in order to bring about change and improvements. Not just once, but continuously. People’s engagement is critical to this; you want to understand their keenest insights, knowledge and points for improvement, and more importantly; you want to show them that you consider them important. After all, change is permanent, a constant. Continuous improvement is the name of the game. The PDCA model is a much-used approach. PDCA gives structure to your continuous change and improvement process. In this blog we will explain how to use CircleLytics Dialogue successfully in PDCA. This ensures (short) cyclical feedforward. No change without employees. Change fails or succeeds mainly because of people. And without their data and insights, or unreliable data, you will not achieve successful change. The quality of the input of this feedforward and feedback determines your success. We will explain how CircleLytics helps you to obtain high quality data from stakeholders, such as and mainly employees, to prevent bias, mistakes and missed opportunities. It will also help to prepare the people involved for your change and secure their involvement. The tool is especially suitable for regular, (short) cyclical qualitative and quantitative feedback and feedforward.
How does PDCA work again?
PDCA stands for Plan – Do – Check – Act; a structural, cyclical approach in continuous improvement programmes. It ensures that you continuously and systematically pay attention to the steps needed to structurally solve problems. You can read more about the background of the PDCA model here. We describe all steps and explain how other organizations use CircleLytics for this purpose. In addition to tools, continuous change also requires a culture of continuous learning; being open to something better and repeating it. CircleLytics ensures organizations of efficient, effective feedback cycles, to achieve this culture and finally bring the necessary insights to the table. This cannot be achieved, or only to a lesser degree, using other tools and interventions, such as stand-ups, project meetings, and certainly not surveys. Our blog Survey or dialogue explains why this is so.
The different phases
Plan: identification of the problem and formulation of a supported plan for improvement
Do: implement actions, involving all relevant people
Check: evaluation of results, progress and analysis of deviations on the basis of data
Act: adjust activities based on the Check phase and make improvements sustainable.
Step 1: do you understand the problem and why?
In this step, you identify and analyse problems. Remember what Einstein said: “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.” So spend ample time on this step, because a lack of attention now, will work against you later. Ask open questions: who, what, where, how, when and why? Look for the why behind the problem by, for example, using the technique of asking the why question 3 – 5 times. This will prevent your team from focusing on symptoms and consequences, rather than causes. There are also other techniques for root cause analysis, such as Pareto-analysis, Fishbone analysis, Fault Tree analysis, etc. CircleLytics is a suitable tool for all these techniques with questions tailored to these analysis variants. By seeking feedback from a wider group than the project team or the hired or internal consultant, you can look beyond your own scope. You can also break through the hierarchical relationships in your organization by ignoring those you involve in the anonymous feedback. Next, you can start to fine-tune a plan based on that problem identification.
Ask the largest, relevant group for each step of PDCA
Two know more than one. And many more than two know even more. CircleLytics ensures that you easily involve the largest possible, relevant group in the relevant phase. This ensures that you will receive the richest input with the least bias towards what really matters. This is called the wisdom of crowd, or collective intelligence. Ask this group rock-solid questions and let them respond in two anonymous rounds, with equal room and voice for everyone. Our White Paper helps you to design these rock-solid questions yourself, but make it easy on yourself: CircleLytics has plenty of questions ready for you. You will collect qualitative, indispensable feedback. Subsequently, this feedback is prioritized by the group itself in our unique 2nd round, giving it meaning. This 2nd round is critical and does not take place simultaneously with the 1st round. This ensures that participants can learn and reflect on feedback from others. This way of structuring feedback yields the most intelligence (see our post on this with Google research or watch the collective intelligence playlist on our YouTube channel).
Some important advantages of involving the largest possible group:
- a cross-silo group, across departments; diversity provides the richest input
- break through the hierarchy by inviting participants “of all layers”.
- this also ensures high involvement, co-responsibility and early buy-in
- this ensures that people’s ‘brains’ are already switched on for change: the growth mindset.
We recommend a small group for questions that can only be answered by people from that specific small group (management group, MT, sounding board group, etc). This could concern budget or the deployment of people. For all other subjects, involving the largest possible, relevant group will yield the best results. As mentioned above, you can bypass the hierarchy. After two rounds in CircleLytics, you can directly read and apply the combined results, which have been further enriched by natural language processing and artificial intelligence techniques. The results can be intelligently filtered and broken down according to hierarchical levels, function groups, ages, length of service, role in the change, department, etc. This allows you to see how different subgroups may view things differently. The strength of the 2nd round of CircleLytics is that it is anonymous, and participants learn from each other’s (different) opinions. This ensures that the diversity of opinions and perspectives is as great as possible, which is exactly what you want to answer your questions in the smartest way possible.
[Photo: Round 1: open questions that touch the core. Time to reflect, no time pressure, anonymous. Round 2: all opinions back to participants in small sets; they prioritise these using scores and textual enhancements. Round 3: Dashboard shows bundled wisdom of the group; extra analysis tools and report using AI/text analysis.]
People determine the success of change
As mentioned in the introduction, people are the essence of your change. People perform or prevent actions. A review study in the International Journal of Strategic Change Management, highlights the main reasons for the failure of change and read also more about leadership’s role and behaviour and its impact on implementation of change. More important than those of a strategic nature, is the people factor and HR/HCM policy. The most important are:
- lack of involvement and participation
- resistance to change
- lack of motivation and satisfaction
- fear of losing their job
- low confidence.
Examples of questions in the Plan phase
We will immediately show you how our two-round method will benefit you. We do this with an example question: “What do you think is the real core of the problem and can you explain it in more detail? “The CircleLytics tool collects the answers anonymously, and in the second round, participants will score each other’s analysis and the most supported responses will be revealed. In the second round, you immediately ask for their explanation, for example with the question “Do you think this is the problem to work on now, why? This way, you will dig very deep in a period of 3-5 working days, with 10 or even 1,000 people. So, you ask everyone who knows something about the problem or the point to be improved, or who is or will be affected by change because of the actions to be taken. You secure the above critical advantages: richest input, buy-in and openness to change.
The above example can be realized in a few working days in two rounds. You can go through the real-time results yourself or together and follow up with the next step, looking for solutions and improvements. You can also set up a second feedback loop of two rounds with CircleLytics Dialogue, if the first results still raise questions. By the way, other sample questions are available depending on your situation, such as:
“What do you think we should focus on and why?
“What should we do first to cope with [losses, customer churn, system crashes, …] and why?”
Looking for improvements
You will now select the most prioritized problems that your team supports. Again, present these to the largest, relevant group. Remember that employees are eager to respond to open questions that are relevant to their work and well-being. Not asking them is not an option.
A follow-up question might now be: “For each problem identified, can you think about how you would solve it; what do you think is a valuable, achievable, strong improvement? “In the second round, they can score up or down so many improvements made by others and, when asked, explain “How would you make this improvement measurable? ” or “What is most needed to realize this? or for example “What should we not do or do less of to realize this improvement successfully? “. Your result is a compilation of the most supported improvements per problem and a compact overview of the explanations for this, such as how you measure this, what is needed most and what you have to do to make it work.
Now you can start planning.
Towards a plan with a basis of support
A plan without support from the broad group of stakeholders is doomed to fail along the way. Did you know that research has shown that 90% of lean-development projects fail? Therefore, our advice is to present your plan again to the largest, relevant group of stakeholders. You can ask the effective question: “Do you support this plan? If yes, support your answer by indicating what convinces you most and, if no, explain what you consider to be an insurmountable objection and your alternative.”
Through the 2nd unique round, participants learn from each other’s insights, give support, and you learn whether there are objections that are serious and need improvement. You can iterate this 2 or 3 times if you want. This will result in a supported plan. You can complete these iterations in 1-4 working days if you need speed. Remember that change requires attention, especially in the Plan phase.
Now let’s get to work and keep checking!
Your sound, efficient approach results in a supported plan and in concrete actions to be carried out. In the implementation (Do phase), it is important to measure (Check phase) how this is going. You can either immediately start implementing on a large scale, or start with small-scale, experimental steps. In both cases, you monitor the success. You will build in fast, regular feedback loops. You will ask questions like: “How involved are you (still) in ABC change and can you explain this? “. In this feedback loop with CircleLytics you will ask: “What makes us deviate from our planning at the moment? “And in the second round of this question: “Which analysis of others regarding the deviation from our planning do you support, and how do you think we can adjust this? “. You can also apply lean models to carry out this kind of analysis and make adjustments, such as the Fishbone analysis that we mentioned above.
You always collect the feedback from the largest, relevant group of people involved in the implementation, certainly not just from the project group. This is how you avoid tunnel vision, in addition to the aforementioned advantages. Depending on the duration, complexity and milestones/measuring points of your original plan, you carry out a feedback loop 1 to more than 10 times. For these phases too, questions are available like the ones above. Because CircleLytics collects the feedback in a broad and anonymous way, and learns from what people support and reject, you will get reliable data. Without this data, you cannot check or adjust.
The Act phase; start adjusting now!
You check to know what, why and how needs to be adjusted. Adjustments prevent you from overlooking new circumstances or things that are going differently in practice. You also make sure that the change becomes anchored, sustainable. The regular feedback loops, the dialogues with those involved, ensure that the behaviour of people is brought in line with the required change. You don’t want a relapse.
Where things do go well, investigate the possibilities for standardization. Ask questions like: “What is structurally going well and can we regulate outside the project? “. In the second round, you can ask participants “Which points do you support and how and where do you think you can make them sustainable in the organisation“. In this phase, and on the basis of these reliable insights, you can come to the sustainability of new working methods, tasks, required behaviour, etc.
CircleLytics Dialogue; instant feedback for your PDCA cycle
CircleLytics Dialogue provides reliable feedback data, buy-in and openness for change from all stakeholders. You can deploy CircleLytics via consultants, who work on your (lean / change) projects, or engage them directly by contacting us. You can also ask HR to facilitate this tool. They are familiar with the enormous power, the positive effect on the involvement of employees and they know the big difference with (unwanted) surveys. We will show you a demo in 15-30 minutes and discuss a few customer cases. You can use the tool on the same day and start and continue in every phase of the PDCA cycle. You can use the tool once, but typically you want to set up an iterative process to realize change, sustainability and alignment of behaviour.
Contact us today to get started tomorrow.