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Thursday, 12 December 2013

Change – Hated and Halted or Desired and Designed

Change is inevitable. Much of it is deterioration or degradation unless something is deliberately done to counter that trend. 

  It takes no more than one instant of positive thought to start the process of positive change.

In spite of the boasting by some businesses about maintaining consistency through the years, change is inevitable. Change affects from very small companies to multi-national businesses. If nothing else changes, the weather does and sometimes with devastating consequences to operations. Each operation has changes that go beyond the weather. These changes may be planned, predictable or unpredictable. Irrespective of the nature, all changes need to be properly managed for any operation that wishes to survive. 

Undesirable changes that must be halted occur in very operation. At the same time, positive changes are desired and deliberately designed into the normal operation where the organization is forward-looking. The common phrase for deliberate design is "continuous improvement". 

Where businesses boast about doing the same things consistently, what they are in fact saying is that they have consistently managed disruptive changes. In other words, the focus on ensuring consistency through many years does not show the absence of change. What it shows is the the management of inevitable changes that occur with time whether deliberately or involuntarily.

Conceptions, Conceptualizations and Change

Change, as has be stated for emphasis, is inevitable and must be properly managed. Managing change calls for the methodical pursuit or adoption of conceptions (i.e. what is known, verified and ideally tested to be correct, valid, repeatable, etc. ) and conceptualizations (i.e. the phase of dreamy imaginations about success or the mere anticipation of success). Sometimes, irrespective of conceptions and conceptualizations, change is forced by unforeseen circumstances that are not subject to mathematical projections.

Even in the process of verifying and testing ideas, a change accommodation model approach produces the best results. This model permits well managed change in response to findings that would lead to taking the best courses of action. Where positive or progressive change is deliberately pursued, the change accommodation model is evoked right from the point of initial conceptualization to the point of actual success.  

Contributions of the SSQA Concept

The SSQA concept encourages change management considerations for any size of operation. The extent to which an operation goes with its change management depends of course on available funds and personnel with adequate knowledge and experience to properly mange change. An operation may take a stance of simply shutting the door to the initiation of changes. It may only concern itself with being prepared to deal with unanticipated changes. This would be the crudest form of change management. More sophisticated approaches may have incremental degrees of preparedness to deal with unanticipated changes in addition to varying degrees of deliberately planned changes. Those who deliberately plan improvement changes understand fully well that consistency is a good thing. What they refuse to accept is a resignation to the notion that change is only disruptive. Change, particularly a well planned change, can be good. Where it is not, it must be managed well so as to derive good from an otherwise undesirable change.  

Crude or sophisticated, the proper management of any form of change includes at least clearly assigned responsibilities and ongoing course correction. In more advanced systems with formalized change management, improvement changes are planned and implemented. The concept of continuous improvement is customarily embraced as an integral part of change management in such systems. Also, in more sophisticated systems, the following features may be included:
  • A well articulated and documented change management process;
  • A change justification and approval flow sequence with some predetermined criteria for decisions to go ahead with the change;
  • A process for implementation evaluation of approved changes prior to the full adoption/commissioning of the changes; and
  • The re-evaluation of implemented changes.
The outlined components of a change management process may be pursued under a separate change management program or incorporated into the top management review and action planning process. The GCSE-Food & Health protection SSQA program has an integrated approach. Change management is implicit at all steps of SSQA implementation but it is most directly integrated with the audit review, management review and cost accounting/return on investment analysis programs. These programs constitute parts of the SSQA implementation step 6 - “CARE”.

An introduction to the SSQA concept and its implementation steps are provided in this post: Adopting the GCSE-Food & Health Protection SSQA 

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Posted By Felix Amiri

Felix Amiri is the current Food Sector Chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection

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