Review & Audit

Everybody finds their own path through the Big Picture - they select and focus their efforts on the concepts and tools that are most relevant (and beneficial) for them at the time. In this way, they can target systematic development in the areas that will give them biggest payback in terms of their performance and potential, and they make the implementation of systematic approaches to management more manageable. In fact we do not currently know of any organisation who does it all, but we know of a number which do more and more each year - and continue to reap the benefits.

An essential part of their cycle is an annual Review and Audit. This is an opportunity to objectively analyse progress on systematic management over the preceeding year, to highlight the biggest gaps (or conversely the biggest opportunities) and to plan their developments (and targeted benefits) for the following year.

The tools they use to do this are varied (once again reflecting the organisation's needs and progress). The Review & Audit panel of the big picture illustrates the range of tools from which they typically make their selection. The tools illustrated are:

Customer Survey (interviews & questionaires). These are used to develop an objective picture of customer satisfaction and opportunities across a extensive range of topics. While customer surveys have received a (justifiably) bad press recently, customers are still willing to engage in dialogue when they are confident that you are trying to put more effort into them (the customer) that you are expecting them to put into you. This means that personal contact is essential, and carefully crafted questions that flex to the needs of the customer, and even inspire their thinking. In this way the survey is more likely to be an invisible tool of quantification rather than a mass-mailed burden. The site contains comprehensive examples of both the interview structure and the questionnaire, both of which are purely examples (food for thought), and need to be editted, and used with care as part of a (personal contact) audit strategy which your customers can be clear will benefit them.

Culture Audit (Values Survey). These are used to develop a clear understanding of what is valued in the organisation, and need to be developed against a background of what your organisation 'intends' to value. Typically it would be a list of your values, with questions asking people to indicate the extent to which they truly believe themselves and their colleagues really are valued for pursuing those behaviours (by their direct management, by the wider organisation, by their peers, etc). We have not provided an example for this, since it needs to be based on the intended values of your own organisation - but you could probably adapt the Employee Survey example to help with this. Spider diagrams are a very powerful way of presenting the results.

Employee Survey (interviews & questionnaires) are an excellent way of gaining insights and quantifying the extent of issues across the organisation. Though less sensitive than Customer Surveys, the issues can be the same, and a low response rate would indicate that staff feel their efforts in completing the questionnaire are unlikely to be rewarded in terms of a well-thought out and constructive response by 'the organisation'. In the event that such trust is weak, it is important to follow some of the same principles as outlined in the sustomer survey section above. The site contains comprehensive examples of both an employee interview and a sophisticated questionnaire. These use systematic principles (as outlined in the big picture and on the website) as a context, and either may be editted (and cut down) to suit your requirements.

Management Audit is a means of evaluating the extent to which individual managers are pursuing a systematic approach to their responsibilities. The example included in the website consists of two self-audit questions for each of the 6Ps, together with six supporting pages which clearly explain the supporting evidence required. The best process for the management audit is self-completion, followed by a review with a senior mentor, which looks in more detail at the scores and the evidence. Though such a process does generate data for review and audit, it is more powerful if it is focused on individual improvement in a supportive (but challenging) environment.

Process Review (& value-stream audit). Processes represent the means of embodying learning to deliver sustained performance improvement. As such they are an essential subject for review and audit - without them there is no real basis for audit, and no sure means for harnessing the result. However, most of such improvement should take place on a continuing basis and be managed at the process team level. The focus of review and audit therefore is to look at how well this happens, and so the website contains a useful self analysis tool for reviewing the management of processes. As yet the tool does not contain a specific component for Value-Stream Audit, but we are currently working on this with some 'Lean' experts.

Implementation Audit (& improvement planning). This is a structured analysis of the extent to which last year's planned progress on systematic managment was implemented, and a means of highlighting the priorities for next year. The example on the website is one for the early stages of systematic management implementation, and allows for the organisation to highlight its current priorities and to evaluate progress against these.

Quadrant Chart Audit Tool (& other method audit tools). These are simple scoring frameworks which can be used to quantify the quality of implementation of a number of the key tools in systematic management. Currently, examples exist for auditing Quadrant Charts, Process Management, Problem Solving and Process Planning (QFD). Each can be used to measure progress, and to highlight opportunities for further improvement.

Self Assessment Model. The Self-Assessment Model (SAM) is a comprehensive set of scales covering all 36 principles within systematic management, and providing 10 point scales for assessing organisational progress against each. It has been included here with some degree of trepidation, because the higher order achievements on each scale tend to only make real sense to organisations that have made significant progress on the scale already. However, we have included it, because of its power in placing the organisation's determination of its own path and destination squarely in the hands of the organisation. It provides an opportunity for an organisation to develop a comprehensive picture of its progress, and to set its own targets for further progress.

Further tools which are designed to assist Review & Audit, and are available through the website are: a slide deck on Review & Audit and one on Spring Clean (a shortened form of Review intended to correct any planning issues during the first cycle of implementation) a slide deck targeted at Management Review, and a basic guide to interviewing. Tools are also listed in the resources section: Materials to Support Review. We use many of these resources in our own approach with clients.

Pages 500 to 502 of Managing by Design can be found in Appendix 10, which can be read as a pdf file by clicking the link above.

Chapter 8 of How To Build A Better Business can be read as a pdf file by clicking here.

To explore another secion of the big picture, please click on the relevant area of the image below:

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