Archive for the ‘incremental progress’ Category

Implementing New Initiatives with Incremental Progress

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Hospitality managers involved in turnaround or renewal situations will have a lot on their plates.  Whether they are intent on the implementation of the full infrastructure laid out in The Quest for Remarkable Service or want to begin enterprise-wide benchmarking, institute Tools to Beat Budget in all departments, or develop a more formal training program, there is much to be done.  Factor in the efforts involved in any new initiative with the already busy pace of ongoing operations, and they certainly face a major challenge – but also one that is too often used as an excuse not to press forward.

So what strategy can be adopted that will allow progress toward ultimate goals without degrading operations, customer/guest/member engagement, and service delivery?  A proven strategy that has worked for me as a general manager in two club openings and two hotel turnarounds has been that of incremental progress.

Incremental progress allows forward movement on any significant plan by means of small steps taken daily or weekly that in total will bring you and your team to the desired goal.  But to be successful there are some specific steps that you must take:

  • Call a meeting of all affected department heads to lay out your agenda.  Explain fully the benefits of the initiative and your desired implementation date.  Allow department heads to express concerns or objections.  Engage them in discussion to fully explore any opposition and the exact reason for the opposition.  Take bonafide concerns into account and adjust your plan or desired completion date accordingly.
  • Explain the necessary steps to implementation and require department heads to provide you with a detailed implementation plan and schedule of milestones for their tasks to be completed.
  • Appoint a project manager to the overall implementation or reserve this task for yourself (the larger the project the more compelling the reason for the GM to lead the effort).  Using the Critical Path Method to plot all tasks that have required antecedents (such as the controller preparing the Tools to Beat Budget binders for all departments), develop a master timeline with actions steps and milestones for each affected department head.
  • Schedule a series of meetings to monitor progress toward completion of individual tasks.  Depending upon the implementation timetable, you may use the Monthly Review of Financial Statement meetings to review individual progress toward implementation.
  • Encourage your subordinates to accomplish their action requirements in small steps – that is accomplishing something every day.  If you sense any department head is waiting until the last minute to complete any action item, counsel them that this approach often leads to sloppy, poorly executed implementation and, in fact, may jeopardize the timetables of other department heads or the project as a whole.
  • Use weekly staff meetings for quick updates on project progress, thereby continuing to monitor the project momentum.  Work with or counsel lagging subordinates as necessary.
  • The bottom line for using incremental progress to move a organization toward the implementation of any significant initiative is the persistent involvement of the general manager to ensure that all subordinates stay focused on the larger task while continuing to run their operations.  This focus requires ongoing (read daily or weekly) steps to move the project forward.

Once your management team has completed a significant project using the concept of incremental progress, they will find it much easier to tackle other large projects.  Remember that Jim Collins in Good to Great spoke of the need to push persistently in “a consistent direction over a long period of time” to build momentum and achieve breakthrough.

With everything else your management team must focus on, addressing your large initiatives in small, consistent steps is the only logical way to move your operation forward.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

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