Why You Should Not Discontinue Good Facility Programs
Here's how you can dissect your initiative to figure out why your facility program didn’t work and how you can get back on track.

1. Why did you implement this program in the first place?

Sometimes it’s easiest to start at the beginning. What was the root problem you were trying to address? What was the reason you introduced this new initiative in the first place? It's not about being stubborn and inflexible. The ability to adapt and evolve is an incredibly powerful capability for an organization. But change for the sake of change can deplete your resources and your team's energy. Oftentimes new facility programs get held up by nuance and implementation details and we lose sight of what we were trying to accomplish from the outset.  On the other hand, there may have been relevant discoveries in the first iteration of your program that gave you insight for a better solution to the original problem. Get back to that root problem and see if the initiative can be reframed to better address it.

2. Why didn't it work?

Next, look at the specific reasons why your program didn’t achieve the desired outcome. Remember, a good change initiative will consist of specific incremental and measurable steps. Go back and evaluate where the plan failed to meet the expectation. Was it the plan or the execution? Here are some common reasons why good plans fail, and what you can do to avoid them.

Problems and Solutions:

Problem 1: Poor communication.

Solution: Break it down. Determine what information is necessary at every echelon. You must have a single person responsible for the implementation, monitoring and communication. They need to know the why's, how's and when's. Other groups may only need to know a portion that is relevant for execution. Make sure it's all clear, and in a language that they can understand. And, most importantly, make sure you have an ongoing channel of communication back to the person guiding the program.

Problem 2: Set it and forget it.

Solution: Ongoing Monitoring. Institutional change takes time. In my own experience, it can take anywhere between 3-24 months depending on the complexity of the initiative and size of your organization. Determine a calendar for revisions, and a metric you can use to determine progress.

Problem 3: You get lost in the forest looking at the trees.

Solution: Don't deviate from the plan. The whole purpose of that plan was to keep you focused on the end goal. Make sure you are following all steps needed. Changes to that plan can happen via iterations, but you will need to go through the full process each time (evaluation, planning, execution, monitoring).

Problem 4: Lack of Buy-In.

Solution: Look to the introduction and implementation of the program, including training and onboarding. Ask yourself: Is there an easier way you can get people on board? In other words, were you making it too difficult to adopt and/or was it counterintuitive to your facility’s existing processes?

Problem 5: Great idea, lacking execution.

Solution: Find out how your team was actually implementing the program (not how they were trained to carry it out); this may give you insight into why it didn’t succeed. Employee surveys or feedback from key players within the organization can give you more direct insight than just asking the people in charge.

3. What are you going to do about it?

Institutional change doesn't happen on paper. But, that doesn't mean you don't need that roadmap. You need the planners and the doers. You need the words and the actions. So, if an initiative appears to be failing, don't jump for the axe. Understand first the root causes and implications, and come up with a good 2.0 version of your plan.

Learn from failures or shortcomings and continue to improve. And make sure to communicate this clearly to all relevant parties. There is no shame in failure, but there is nothing more detrimental to your team morale than failing to admit and do something about it.


There are certain things you should be aware of before introducing a new change at your facility. Timing, the network effect, and the sustainability of your program are all incredibly important. As the popular saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Just because your facility program didn’t go as planned the first time around doesn’t mean it’s doomed for failure. Finding out what went wrong, reassessing your approach and readjusting your implementation strategy can make all the difference. And, if the end conclusion is to pivot in a different direction, having gone through a disciplined process you will have gained valuable insight to develop the right plan the second time around.

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