Posts Tagged ‘process’

Effectiveness, value then efficiency

December 10, 2013

All of us have a responsibility for achieving more with less. To be more efficient, we experiment to see what works for customers, what nearly works and what does not work.

Organizations should start by studying themselves as systems. Once their leaders understand how their system helps employees to fulfill their mission or not, they think and work differently. They start their efficiency improvement cycles by developing their management system to drive their processes through the walls of silos to focus on customers. Then they can focus on improving the system to deliver what customers value.

Given an environment that supports such thinking, together with our colleagues, we start the experiment by studying customer demand, what customers’ value and waste. We may then set ourselves a hypothesis to test the best way to satisfy value demand and reduce failure demand. We carefully work to our new or updated procedure to see if it is effective. We try again until successful. We institutionalize the successful new process so others in the system can depend on it. This also enables us to improve efficiency further with another cycle of improvement.

Improvement often starts by eliminating the local causes of problems from a process. Perhaps by mistake-proofing the riskiest processes too. But, after several improvement cycles, we find the wider system has the greatest impact, both adverse and beneficial, on our process. System-wide impacts come from other processes in the system. These impacts include the shared organizational beliefs (or culture) that leaders reinforce or weaken with their processes.

When the continual improvement cycle is effective it continues to make the system and its processes more efficient. The speed of this investment should be a result of the calculation of risk and reward on behalf of investors who share the mission for customer value. The management system should deliver the information needed for these risk-reward decisions from the data collected on what customers’ value.

Conformity is necessary for effectiveness and predictable effectiveness is necessary for delivering value and improving efficiency. Predictable outcomes are a mark of effective processes and systems. “Luck” best describes an organization happening to fulfill a requirement with an unknown process or system.

Start by understanding your organization as a system. How does it help your organization to fulfill your mission? What are the leadership processes? Be prepared to think and work differently. Start your efficiency improvement cycles by developing your management system so it is process-based leaving no silos. Then focus on improving your system and its processes to deliver what your current and future customers value.

How do I measure the effectiveness of training?

February 19, 2013

Why do we feel a need to measure the benefits of doing the right thing? We find this in quality costing too. Most quality costing is about the cost benefits of keeping promises instead of the cost benefits of making the promises valued by customers. Likewise, we need to do enough of the right thing the right way with our organization as a system to fulfill our collective objectives of creating (and keeping) more successful customers.

People, of diverse innate abilities, benefit in different ways from education and training. Some employees benefit immediately from the formal education and training. Others benefit more from workplace experiences following the education or training. Moreover, we all benefit from a process-based management system that helps us to determine requirements and coordinate our work to fulfill requirements.

Taking the individual out of the system, one could measure the abilities, skills and knowledge of each individual before and after the training session. However, we cannot change the innate abilities of anyone and the slower learners from workplace experiences may be marked down. This is not to mention the contributions or impediments of the leaders and the rest of the system.

Diverse process and project teams comprising individuals of different strengths and weaknesses help each other to fulfill objectives. Managers wisely play to the strengths of their people and avoid exposing their weaknesses. We cannot make everyone the same like robots.

What counts is competence of the individual, the process, leadership and the system of which all three are part. Therefore, we have to optimize the system (parts that work together) so it adds value faster and prevents loss sooner. $ per millisecond may be the ultimate metric appearing on the dashboard for all to see as a smoothed moving average.

The primacy of process

November 3, 2012

Many people confuse processes with procedures. Processes are the work of cross-functional teams. Procedures are the specified way of doing the work. Procedures can be mind-numbing for competent workers especially when they specify unnecessary detail or are used instead of training.

A process may or may not add value. A procedure may or may not be effective and may or may not be documented.

Processes are the counterculture where the culture is for functions to congregate in departments to politick for promotion. Such departmental thinking has to change for the functions to coordinate their work to form a joined-up process to create more successful customers.

Indeed, processes refocus workers from keeping old-style departmental bosses happy to collaborate in satisfying customers. Processes that add value to inputs are the lifeblood of organizations that want to create more successful customers. This makes the new-style process bosses very happy.

Processes usually bring resources and controls so the work of humans can add value to a wide variety of inputs. Resources include skills, knowledge, facilities and equipment. Controls include care, coordination, methods and decisions. Get the inputs, resources and controls right and the output will be free from defects and other failures to fulfill requirements

Middle managers add value by coordinating, monitoring and improving the performance of cross-functional process teams to make sure everyone has what they need to keep their work in balance with customer demand. When customer demand reduces, middle managers or coaches help process teams improve their skills, facilities, equipment, methods or remove kinks from their processes. Or, as a last resort, they may be redeployed to under-resourced processes.

Leaders add value by establishing and living the values that impart care for customers and the requirements of other stakeholders. They ensure their organizations work effectively as systems to direct, nurture, support, redesign and remove processes as necessary to fulfill the organization’s mission. Small companies grow and become successful by providing value and continually improving their management systems, processes and products.

Process Management within well-designed systems are necessary for our work to pay our way in this world as we create more successful customers.

Learning and earning our way out of borrowing too much

November 12, 2011

The slow economy is a crisis for individuals, families and communities in many western countries. For a decade or more, many western economies have borrowed more than they have earned. Politicians now have to reduce public spending to avoid borrowing even more money. Reduce spending to keep the interest repayments down on what our country has to repay every month.

Yes, our credit bubble was made much bigger by banks slackening their credit controls to sell more and more loans to us (and to buyers of the loans). Politicians are more likely to allow inflation to erode our debts (by “printing” unearned money and allowing the currency to devalue) while we wait for them to create jobs. Inflation would also erode the value of our work and any savings we have left.

In seeking a living wage, all of us need work that adds enough value for all to be rewarded so all can look after their families, communities and ourselves? Therefore potential earners need help to measure the sustainability of their behaviors, skills and knowledge (competence). Providing jobs for incompetent people or insufficient competent people gets us nowhere. Schools, colleges and companies all have role to play in enabling the skills and knowledge of workers to add enough value for viable careers, fruitful families and successful communities.

Some politicians have had the honesty to admit that recovery will take ten years. We need at least as much time to repay as it took us to borrow the money we had not earned. Changing what we do to ensure our work adds value faster means we can also repay our debts faster.

Or are we waiting for politicians to create jobs?

Work, not jobs, is the key. Jobs are a departmental concept. Jobs occupy functions to further careers and claim bonuses. Jobs like this add no value for customers. Jobs like this put us deeper in debt. Better to determine how our work adds value. In both the private and public sectors, our work has to add value for customers (includes taxpayers) who are able and willing to pay. Our cross-functional work can add value faster to earn more for all of us.

Our work becomes meaningful in process teams as together we create more successful customers.

First we have to understand our processes. Then we need to be competent, applying our skills and knowledge within these processes for the benefit of customers. But far too many skilled and knowledgeable people work in departmentalized organizations that waste 40% of their efforts to serve customers. Two days a week on rework, pointless work and repair. Too many organizations neglect their cross-departmental processes for adding and enabling value. In short they neglect their process-based management systems.

How can we improve the economy for ourselves, our children and our communities? Process-based management systems can make everyone’s work more effective and then more efficient. Management systems can help all of us to determine and fulfill the needs of our customers. Process-based management systems that are self-improving so they help us to prevent loss while speeding the rate at which our work adds value.

All of us can create sustainable and satisfying work lives so we earn our standards of living.

$ per millisecond

August 31, 2011

How fast does your organization add value?

All work should help other people. In this context all work is service. We also know that all work is process. Work should add value or enable another process to add value. When our work depends on the successful interaction of several different functions we need a management system to help us so we are all doing the right things the right way at the right time.

Besides paying customers, our communities, our families, our colleagues, ourselves and our employers – the people receiving the results of our work are stakeholders.

Management systems should inform us of the requirements critical to success. Management systems should deliver to us, on-time and defect-free, the inputs to which our work must add the value. Management systems should deliver the necessary resources and controls so we understand and can agree customer requirements. As part of the management system leaders coordinate our work and cause all of us to care passionately for each other’s requirements.

In short, the management system enables us to earn a living and our organizations to exist.

Sometimes our system slows us or stops us from adding value because its core or support processes, the inputs, resource or controls are late, ineffective or defective in some other way.

Two questions remain: “how fast does your management system enable your core processes to add value and what are doing with your management to hasten the rate it adds value?”


December 4, 2009

…is your work that should add value to data, information or materials and is supported by resources (facilities, equipment, talent, skills and knowledge) and controls (methods, procedures, care and coordination).

After deducting the cost of the resources, controls and inputs from value of the outputs we should receive a reward to share with our families, communities and, perhaps, spend on ourselves. If our life or work continues to add no value then we are subsidized by our savings or by people whose work does add value or we die.

Such is the vital importance of all processes.

How well does your organizational management system help you to do even better work?