Process improvement isn’t rocket science: it’s just a question of being methodical and understanding the human condition and that will help get it sorted. When thinking about improving processes, you need to know the following:
• Why are you doing this?
It may seem like a no-brainer, but you need to have a clearly-stated reason, or the change won’t stick. And the reason needs to be better than “we need to signal a change around here”, even if that is the most obvious driver (and it often is). People don’t like changing unless they can see what’s in it for them. If you’re honest, you’re probably the same, so accept that you need to be able to sell it to them on the basis of the benefits it undoubtedly brings. In any case, it brings you to the next question.
• How important is it to you?
Big changes need significant effort, or they won’t stick. How badly do you need to change? Some drivers are stronger than others, like you’re losing money hand over fist and need to stop that loss in its tracks. More commonly, your people are getting in each other’s way, which automatically means waste for both you and your
customers. You need to understand as well why things are done in that particular way at the moment, so that you identify what habits to change first.
• How will you know when you’ve done it?
How you measure things can be as important as the thing itself. You have to be sure that a) the tail won’t wag the dog (the measurement process is too onerous to have any value) and b) that the measure means something in terms your people understand. You need to be able to visualise clearly how conditions would improve as a result of this change. What exactly changes? If you can see it, you know
where your measures lie.
• How will you know whether it’s had the effect you needed it to have?
That’s why the measurement is important! If everyone can see that change you
identified, then they should still be able to see it in short-term, medium-term
and long-term measures.
And that’s all there is to it! Obviously, this is a very brief overview and
it’s my plan to bring a regular set of tips to this blog. What did you think of this one?
I have a number of updates in the pipeline, but I’m always interested to hear what concerns you most and will be happy to write something about that (no names, no pack drill, so you can be quite open), so please let me know.