5 Ways to Change Mindsets for Increasing Efficiency

For anyone who has worked in an ageing plant they will undoubtably be familiar with the response “Because that is what we’ve always done.”

Bad habits passed down over many years can be extremely difficult to break. The problem is often not with the solution, it is in changing the mindset of everyone involved. While the change may seem extremely simple and logical to you, others can be more difficult to convince. Instead of hearing “I have a solution to your problem,” they often hear “Your actions over the past x years were wrong.”

Source: Perpetualplum

Being able to communicate between disciplines, education levels, and experience is one of the most important lessons - one that is often skipped. The ability to get things done is rare, but it can be learned.

For any process change to be succesful it needs to have the confidence and involvement of all levels of a processing plant, from management, maintenance, operations, health and safety, and control. If any one of these departments are not happy, then the project can come to a disapointing halt.

The following steps are helpful in converting any idea into a permanent process change:

1. Participation

“Tell me and I’ll forget

Show me and I may remember

Involve me and I’ll understand”

Chinese Proverb

Involving the person who are trying to convince in your trials is much more influential than explaining the results of a historic trial. This is a great way to get people emotionally invested in your project, because they are assissting in its implimentation. Depending on the effort involved in their participation it becomes their project as much as yours, and they will go out of their way to see its success.

Once this has been accomplished you no longer have just one person trying to change mindsets, but an entire team.

This can be difficult when multiple people need to be convinced, but it is the most powerful item in your persuasion tookit.


2. Visual Management

“What gets measured gets managed”

Peter Drucker, Social Ecologist

Many companies are obsessed with visual management tools, for one reason - they work!

Graphs and boards filled with greens and reds, ticks and crosses, smiles and frowns, are plentiful, and while they may be too simplistic for the complications of a process engineering role, they are an easy way of managing change and viewing compliance. One way to increase the probability of a process change is to measure the compliance to the new system in a simple and easy to understand manner. Depending on the importance of the change and responsibility of an individual, this system can even be reflected in performance bonus’.

If people understand that the direct result of their actions has consquences on the process, profitability, and their visual management board, then they are much more likely to comply.


3. Understanding

There are very few employees who do not want the best for their site, and even fewer whose concerns are not relevant - understanding those concerns and implimenting them into your solution will often improve it.

A lot of people are so focused on pushing their idea through, that they do not use criticism or concerns as an opportunity for increasing operability or reliability. Actively listening with the sole purposing of trying to understand another persons problems with your process change is extremely helpful, both in terms of further developing your project and bringing another person onto your team. Once someones ideas have been implimented into the final solution, rather than being ignored, will result in a more successful change.

Use the concerns of others as a tool to improve your base idea and you will develop more thorough solutions in areas outside of your expertise.


4. Consider all parties involved

Every process plant is made up of many, many people, each with an important part to play. Almost all process changes impact everyone in the area, and considering their concerns is wise and effective. The more reliability and rigour that can be implimented into an already process beneficial change will result in direct improvements.

A well thought out plan, which has consulted heavily with all stakeholders is much more likely to succeed.

There are many examples of process designs failing or projects being cancelled after the maintenance costs proved higher than anticipated, or the safety risks were not thoroughly considered.

  • What maintenance routines will be involved?
  • Will operations need to change their strategy?
  • Has Health and Safety been consulted?
  • Is legal required?
  • Will quality or production or profitability be negatively impacted?
  • What will the impact be on downsteam processes?

If you have thought of the risks, benefits, and involvement of the parties involved prior to them asking, then you are well ahead of the pack and more likely to gain their approval.


5. Trust

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Every small positive action builds trust with another person, and every negative action destroys it. After trust has been built on an ongoing, and long term basis, every project will be easier to impliment than the last.

Building trust is a long and difficult process, and can be lost in an instant. It must be built with each person on an individual basis, and cannot be faked. There are huge amounts of literature regarding building trust.


Bringing one or all of these mindset altering techniques into your workplace will significant increase the chance of success of any of your projects, and reduce the amount of time that every change will take.


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