How to make operational changes stick
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McKinsey Classics | July 2018
The ‘soft’ side of change
The ‘soft’ side of change
Making operational change stick is hard. Operations typically account for the largest number of employees in a business, with the widest variation in skill levels, and units are often scattered throughout the world, function independently, and have distinct corporate cultures. That’s why many companies take the technical aspects of change programs much more seriously than the organizational ones. Technical issues seem objective and straightforward, lean tool kits teem with analytical solutions to operational problems, and organizations have invested significant amounts of money in training experts to apply them. What’s more, companies actually do need these solutions, tools, and experts to diagnose and improve their operational performance.

But they also need the “soft,” organizational elements of change: for instance, leaders who help their teams to identify and make efficiency improvements, a boardroom aligned with the shop floor, and the technical and interpersonal skills that make efficiency benefits real and lasting. These advantages do not appear by magic. Learn how to balance the soft and “hard” elements of lean transformations—read our classic 2008 article “From lean to lasting: Making operational improvements stick.”

Strike the right balance
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