Are you looking for ways to drive down labor costs and improve your organization’s performance?
If so, then it’s important to understand that your most important challenge in this endeavor might not be a talent shortage or the implementation of a new technology. The truth is that after working with many companies across multiple industries, we’ve consistently found that the biggest challenge to making sustainable improvements is the adherence to the status quo within the workplace.
Challenging the Status Quo Is Critical to Making Improvements
As Andrew Lenti points out in his LinkedIn article titled “Continuous Improvement: Challenging the Status Quo,” an organization that wants to improve and innovate needs a free-thinking work environment that’s conducive to questioning and challenging the status quo.
Yet all too often, we encounter organizations that are resistant to change after doing things a certain way for long periods of time. For example, when we first started working with Sony, the company had employed the same team for years. As a result, the workforce was overpaid, with salaries that were well above industry standards. By challenging the status quo, we were able to help Sony drive down labor costs — and consequently, CPU — by streamlining the workforce and setting productivity standards all employees had to meet.
Another client, Taylor Farms, maintained a relatively small workforce in order to contain the costs associated with employing a larger full-time workforce. When the company started to grow, however, excess overtime resulted in unnecessarily high labor costs. By asking the right questions, we determined that hiring more employees would actually be more cost-effective, as well as enhance productivity and quality.
Why Organizations Don’t Challenge the Status Quo
If challenging the status quo is essential to making improvements that are in the organization’s best interest, why don’t more businesses do so? The crux of the matter is that in many organizations, “What’s best?” isn’t so much the question as “What’s best for whom?”
In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie wrote: “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”
While these words might seem a little harsh, it’s undeniable that in every organization, politics, and self-interest play significant roles. As such, “What’s best for the organization?” isn’t always what drives the decision to make — or not make — improvements.
In some cases, the status quo is maintained because a decision maker doesn’t see sufficiently compelling reasons to change the way things are done, a viable alternative hasn’t been presented or it’s simply more comfortable to keep things the way they are. In other instances, however, the status quo may protect the interests of those who have influence. For example, stakeholders may feel that changes would be a drain on their resources, adversely affect their departments or even threaten their positions.
Leverage nGROUP’s Expertise to Make Improvements
In an organization where challenging the status quo is problematic, it can be beneficial to leverage external expertise. nGROUP’s engineers are experts at analyzing operations, finding opportunities for improvement and substantiating how those improvements would benefit the business. This, in turn, can help secure buy-in from the stakeholders — and that is crucial to successfully implementing any changes.