There is an inherent danger within any long established, reasonably successful, organisation to assume that there is little need for change. ‘It’s the way we’ve always done it’, ‘If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’, you know the thinking. A sort of arrogance can pervade a corporate culture, resulting in outdated practices, lost opportunities, and a systemic lack of innovation. All too often initiative is stifled.
Every forward thinking enterprise should be geared to continuous improvement, constantly questioning methods and looking for ways of introducing better business processes. The problem is, most companies tend to be introspective, caught up in their own ways of doing things and do little to engage in wider initiatives to introduce new ideas into the company from external sources.
Of course, enlightened management use benchmarking for charting progress and look far and wide for examples of best practice. But what really makes a difference is seeing how someone else approaches a similar problem to your own. Much can be gained by talking to and sharing ideas with others. That’s why it’s so refreshing to hear of a co-operative arrangement between two companies to swap jobs.
John Lewis Department Stores has teamed up with McDonald’s UK’s distribution company, Keystone Distribution, to implement an innovative job swap scheme. The scheme, trialed this summer, involves middle managers from the two companies swapping jobs and spending a week working in similar roles. A wonderful opportunity for middle managers to gain an insight into how common issues and practices are addressed.
Every manager who completes the scheme will be required to develop a ten-point action plan to improve operations by implementing ideas from the job swap. Warehouse shop floor practices, shift pattern management, communication and employee engagement have all been highlighted as areas for study and improvement.
Perhaps more companies would benefit from getting involved in such schemes.