“If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail.”

Benjamin Franklin is famous for inventing the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, swimming fins, and the odometer. He was also a publisher and author who once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This advice is still relevant today and almost makes up for two other Franklin accomplishments; the catheter and daylight savings time. When implementing any new process, planning “how” it’s going to be rolled out is almost as important as “what” it is.

If you have following along with previous blogs, you have a pretty good idea of “what” Human Performance and REMEDY are. If you’re just joining us, here are the links: Human Performance 101, Reducing Errors, Managing Change, Error Defenses, and Yield. Now that you know the “what”, let’s take Ben Franklin’s advice and start planning the “how” so we can avoid the common failures.

The “how” is laid out in Knowledge Vine’s FIAT process; Foundation, Information, Application, and Transformation. This is our plan. Simply put: where are you starting, what do you need to learn, how do you use what you learned, and can you quantify progress. Having a well-constructed plan helps us avoid some of the common reasons why culture change fails. According to John P. Kotter, one of the leading experts in change management, there are 8 reasons why transformation efforts fail. The details are in his article from the Harvard Business Review, but broadly we can show you how each of these pitfalls are addressed through one of the components of REMEDY and in which stage of FIAT this occurs:

#1 Not Establishing a Great Enough Sense of Urgency-Foundation: A survey is administered to determine how well the organization’s values are aligned with the frontline workers to the boardroom. Identifying these gaps eliminates the “business as usual” mindset and creates our sense of urgency.

#2 Not Creating a Powerful Enough and Guiding Coalition-Foundation: The executive leadership is brought together to discuss survey results and the TOPI process to address gaps. This is where leadership learns their roles and responsibilities and how to be change agents focused on improving behaviors and the organization.

#3 Lacking a Vision-Information: Everyone in the organization learns the What, Why, and How of Human Performance. 

#4 Under-Communicating the Vision-Information/Application: You never stop communicating change efforts, but Knowledge Vine training is designed to ensure everyone knows the vision for the organization and it is continuously reinforced during the in-field coaching.

#5 Not Removing Obstacles to the New Vision-Error Defenses: We teach leadership how to focus on identifying and removing the organizational weaknesses that make it hard for workers to perform their jobs as described. 

#6 Not Systematically Planning & Creating Short-Term Wins-Error Defenses: A good offense is the best defense. We teach leaders to use positive reinforcement to drive the behaviors that defend against errors. There are two sides to the improvement coin; stop doing what is wrong and keep doing what is right. The organization must celebrate wins if we want the behavior repeated.

#7 Declaring Victory Too Soon-Transformation: We found out where we are and established goals during Foundation. In Transformation, we measure our results against established metrics to avoid any ambiguity in our results. No more “Are we there yet?” or “I think we’ve made progress.” Objective data tells us what progress we have made and prevents us from spiking the ball on the five-yard line. 

#8: Not Anchoring Changes in the Organization’s Culture-Transformation: We guide organizations in establishing processes for corrective actions and tracking them to ensure any change is baked into the system.

As you can see, FIAT is not just a handy acronym; it is the outline of the plan for Total Organization Performance improvement. Following FIAT means we don’t have to plan to fail; instead we can plan the work and then work the plan to improve our safety, reliability, and efficiency.