Some sayings stand the test of time. At COL we like this one by Henry Ford:
“if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.”
To put it another way, if you continue doing the same things, why should you expect a different outcome? If your business is looking to make changes – whether that means entering a new market, improving profit, or decreasing costs – it’s important to think about where you want to get to, what is standing in your way, and what your business can do differently to overcome it.
Often, we get lost in the details and lose the bigger picture. We start by looking at the tasks we are involved in and find small ways to improve them. The fix can be as simple as moving your notepad closer to your computer or perhaps moving your desk closer to the printer. However, many businesses often leave process updates there. They remain bogged down in the minutia and neglect everything else. Businesses make progress when they take the time to understand how their small tasks and activities are connected. Together, they make a Complete Business Process – and this is how a company can drastically improve performance.
The performance improvement that different people aspire to can encompass a wide range of outcomes. For some, it means the quality will improve, for others efficiency will increase. A complete process, however, will ideally cut across all aspects of the business and will enable improvements in all areas it touches. However, often due to politics, silos, or simply lack of will, process updates are restricted to a specific department or team. Therefore, there often remains a disconnect between the strategy/goal and the execution/outcome. In all cases, it is important for the process to include all relevant parties – from C-level execs all the way down to the chain to the intern.
If you don’t have the right people involved, then the process update will fail to achieve the desired results. Why is this? People need to buy into the process – they need to believe that it will achieve results and not negatively affect their lives. This mindset includes higher-ups as well. If they keep on telling employees to bypass a process or tell them to act, without telling them why the process is much more likely to fail.
To achieve a successful commercial outcome, we need first to ensure the most efficient and effective way of working is defined. Then we ensure that we have the right people with the right skills in place. Finally, we want to enable people and empower them to succeed, while preventing them actively (or passively) fighting against the new process. To achieve this, this is where technology comes in. It allows people to have the right tools to do their jobs, in the most efficient manner possible, while also allowing management an opportunity to understand progress objectively. They can then offer appropriate support where and if necessary.
Technology has revolutionised the office environment, and with web technologies and mobile becoming ever more pervasive, the potential for technology to enable employees should not be underestimated. The key is to base technology on a sound process and helping the right people do the right tasks.
Process is an integral part of any organisation. Organisations with defined processes are better able to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities for improvement. The clarity this brings offers the opportunity to create incremental and measurable benefits that show in the product or service and ultimately the top and/or bottom line. These benefits are achieved through enhanced productivity, increased efficiency, and an ability to react to the unknown in a considered and measured manner – thus avoiding the ‘friction of implementation.’ In essence, organisations that have the best processes are better able to take advantage of opportunities because they are better at linking their goals and strategies to their execution and outcomes.