Management System Success is Management Success


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Improvement PROCESS - Building your Management System

The improvement process as described on the next page and, in more detail, in my book can be used for a whole management system or it can be used for a single activity area or project.  

The improvement process to build a management system that works finds its roots in the concept visualized by the Platform Model.  


Platform Model - foundation of the improvement process and management system success

The Platform Model as seen from above

The concept

Four aspects are essential to bring desired results and determine the Level of Performance which "rests" on these columns:  

(1) The making of a PLAN to include the management activity areas and activities that need to be done, by WHOM and WHEN to reach results. This “standing plan” or “management system” needs to be backed up by procedures or work instructions explaining HOW the activities should be carried out.

(2) Instruction (TRAIN) of people at all levels so the work to be done can be done right to obtain the desired results.

(3) Execution (DO) of the activities required by the management system by people who know what to do, why and how to do it. To include the evaluation of what is being done and the results obtained.  

The foundation of this 3-dimensional "platform" model is: 

(4) management LEADERSHIP and MOTIVATION, the driving force behind the improvement process.



To reach desired results, management activity areas or "elements" of the management system need to be identified. Selection of activity areas and the nature and quality of the activities in each area determine to a large extent the failure or success of the management system. To reach a desired performance level minimum criteria must be established for elements covering activity areas such as, but not limited to:

  • leadership and administration
  • management training
  • hiring and placement
  • risk/problem identification
  • engineering and change management
  • materials and services management
  • task analysis and -procedures
  • rules and work permits
  • knowledge and skill training
  • task observations
  • inspections and maintenance
  • emergency preparedness
  • learning from what went wrong
  • system evaluation

It should be realized that, depending on the size of the organization, an effective management system cannot be build overnight. It will take months and may take years. The total management system should preferably be executed through various consecutive plans.


The selection of activity areas for the first plan is critical. That plan should include activity areas that are essential to reach the overall objective(s) of the management system while results of the individual activity areas should be obtained within a relatively short period, preferably no more than say 12 - 18 months. The shorter the period to show visible results,  the better it will be as this will shoe people that it works and that management is serious about change and improvement.



Improvement process - a sequence of plans 



The management system activity areas should be embedded in a structure to allow the desired results without undue efforts; periodic evaluation of what is being done and results obtained is the key!




After establishment of what needs to be done, by whom, when and how, people should receive adequate training for motivation, knowledge and skills to carry out the required work.


Training is necessary for success and should include:

  • General introduction training necessary to put "all noses in the same direction". "This is where we want to go together and that is the way we will do it". This training should be provided top-down in the organization. Apart from some basic information, including cause-causation model and some definitions, emphasis should be given to the why of the anticipated change, how it will be accomplished and the need for cooperation of all levels in the organization. Very important is to convey the leadership, motivation and support by (top) management; this is why management should be visible and participate in those training sessions. The process of how the change will be effectuated should be part of this general training. The 17-step improvement process can serve as a guide.
  • Training required for those people who play a role in the making of the plan. In particular this will concern those who will act as coordinators of specific management system elements. Those people will guide and coach others in a team effort to develop the element for which they are responsible. They should have a thorough knowledge of the management system, the elements and the structure thereof.
  • Training following the establishment of specific activities for those elements that form part of the action plan. This training should include any forms and tools to be used; it is this training that is the basis for execution of the element specific activities - DO what needs to be done.



Ultimately, success can only be secured if the right activities are carried out in the right way. This requires the necessary discipline to do the work and to keep on doing it from top-management down, providing enthusiastic leadership in support of activities carried out by management, staff and employees.


Top-down AND Bottom-up for best results 


Best, and lasting, results can be obtained through a combination of top-down and bottom-up involvement, during preparatory stages but certainly also where it concerns the way activities are carried out. Top-down alone, as has so often been the case in the past, will not do it and neither will a one-sided bottom-up movement; a wanted combination of the two can provide the proper basis for a lasting success.



Top-down AND Bottom-up for best results


The top-down approach follows top-management's accepted leadership role in providing direction and support by indicating which activities are expected to be carried out in the organization, what training will be provided and what results the results should be.



The principle of participation

Motivation to accomplish results tends to increase as people are given opportunity to participate in matters affecting those results


Top-down support for the execution of the work to be done. By making important items, truly important. By implanting in the organization a system for self-measurement of what is being done and what results are being obtained. By providing feedback and commending people and work groups whenever possible. By making sure that undesired situations or events are being corrected in order of priority. By asking about performance and progress at relevant meetings. By being pro-active rather than re-active. And above all: by example whenever possible and appropriate. By action, not just words!



The principle of recognition

Motivation to accomplish results tends to increase as people are given recognition for their contribution to those results



Bottom-up involving people in problem-solving within their area of operation. Using the expertise that is available in relation with the work to be done and the environment in which it is done.


Activity involvement of employees and lower management levels may include:

  • design of installations and workplace
  • identification of workplace hazards
  • identification of "critical" tasks, analysis of those and the establishment of task procedures or work practices
  • periodic review, up-dating and improvement of existing procedures
  • conducting planned inspections in their own or in another department
  • cause analysis of unwanted events, accidents/incidents  
  • establishing of rules to guide proper behavior
  • selection of protective equipment


Considering this bottom-up involvement, one has to realize that this does not come by itself. Bottom-up involvement should be brought into the organization by top-down desire, establishing effective two-way communication channels. In fact, top-management must want bottom-up involvement to make it truly effective. Adequate (prompt, correct, positive) management response to problems and/or solutions and suggestions originating from lower levels of the organizational hierarchy is necessary.


Balanced approach


It is of great importance that the three supporting activities (plan, train, do) are developed in relation to each other. There must be a balance between the activities to be carried out, the training to provided and the execution of the activities in practice. If not, an unbalanced situation may occur.


In my experience, training is often thought to be the solution for problems and it is -  but only after establishing what activities should be carried out, by whom, when and how. Training is not a magic wand or a "cure all". Training people and then sending them back into the organization where the knowledge gained is not to be put in practice has a counterproductive effect and may lead to demotivation.



The Principle Emotional Ownership

The more ownership people have in the way a present situation has developed, the more difficult it is to change


The process to "Make Your Management System Work" is further described under The 17-step improvement process.



NEXT PAGE is 17-Steps of the Process

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