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From: Food Quality & Safety magazine, August/September 2012

Letter: Manage Change Well or Pay the Price

by Paul Medeiros

Loose change. Not the kind you find fumbling through your pockets as you try to pay for your morning coffee but the kind of loose change that often leads to food safety and quality problems, complaints—and even recalls. I’m referring to loose change-management practices.

A restaurant I once worked for had five short rugs running along the length of its front foyer. Customers would occasionally trip on the edge of one of the rugs. We solved the problem by replacing the five small rugs with one long rug. To me, the edge of each rug represented a change—a change from floor to rug. And because customers were not prepared for that change, it tripped them up. Reducing the number of changes reduced the opportunity for someone to trip.

Production settings are quite similar. I’m not advocating reducing the amount of change your company goes through. If anything, the ability to change rapidly is a prime requisite for staying in business. What I’m advocating is smart and planned change—in other words, sound change-management practices. Practices such as selecting the best and prioritized change projects (vs. trying to change everything); planning the change, including finding the best timing for the change; understanding the risks and consequences of the change; and communicating the change to all necessary stakeholders—all these steps are critical if you want to ensure that changes are smooth as well as quick and profitable.

Just like the rugs, tight change-management practices will help ensure sure footing for you and your organization.

Paul Medeiros
Director of Food Safety and Quality Consulting Services
Guelph Food Technology Centre
Guelph, Ontario

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