Some Thoughts About Processes

November 15th, 2008

Management is largely getting processes to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization. Managing processes and having them achieve high levels of effectiveness is like herding cats or pushing wet spaghetti noodles. It can be pretty tough. Here are some thoughts on processes that might help.Almost all processes are evolved and not designed. They sort of happen over time and are initiated with the inception of the organization. Processes were developed initially to address a specific problem and then became modified and enhanced over time. Additional controls are then put in place as errors occur. The process tends to get divided among departments as the organization grows and then losses its external focus over time.

Processes are people based and are geared to achieve the entity’s mission. They should evolve based on strategic thinking and planning. However, this doesn’t happen because strategic thinking and planning fails to get done because fire drills in most organizations have a higher priority. There is a critical failure to understand and communicate. This is a prevalent occurrence in every organization. Further, people fail to perform consistently and individual uniqueness gets injected into the process, each with different needs and priorities.

These factors make managing processes a tough job. It is critical to make processes more effective producing the desired results. Processes have to be more efficient which helps to minimize the use of our resources. Processes also need to be adaptable and adjust to changing customer and business needs. This attribute is absolutely necessary in these difficult recessionary times. We need to have the right output at the right time at the right place. We need to be totally focused on meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

Here is an interesting perception relative to the efficiency of processes. The time required for taking an input and transforming it into an output with no wait, transportation and/or checks and balance time is approximately 5 percent of cycle time. Instead of spending effort on eliminating the 95 percent of non-value activities, most effort is instead devoted to speeding up value added activities.

Good enough is no longer good enough. It is absolutely essential to exceed customer expectations. We need to empower people and go beyond the basics of meeting expectations to exceeding them. This requires us to adjust and adapt to changing conditions and be fanatical over the pursuit of continuous improvement.

Why measure? If you can’t measure it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t manage it. If you can’t manage it, you can’t improve it. We have a lot of work to do. The good thing is that we can do it if we plan it and are focused on setting goals and objectives. This sets the bar of excellence for all us to excel and just not be satisfied with good enough.