One of the most useful lessons to emerge from the world’s biggest gathering of process professionals in Orlando last month is the absolute necessity of catching the attention of those at the top of the company. As you are no doubt aware - this is both essential and difficult.
It’s long been a challenge for process specialists and particularly if the exec team has preconceptions about the value of investing in process.
We need to set aside our own passion for process and think about what it is that pushes the buttons of the senior execs. What will capture their attention amongst the dozens of other priorities they face every day?
Raising executive level awareness of the broad-reaching impacts of structured process management doesn’t just move it up on the corporate agenda, it also means process improvement is more likely to achieve the transformation success we aim for and that for many organisations is so hard to achieve.
Check out the top three buttons senior execs from finance, manufacturing and insurance companies shared at PEX Week:
1. ‘Success is anything that reduces complexity’
Complexity and new terminology is a big turn-off for those at the top. It’s a problem which has beset the IT industry in general for years: the business people speak one language, the techies another. Don’t fall into that trap with process and change management jargon. It can be a real barrier to winning hearts. Execs – and frontline teams who work within the process - don’t care for fancy terminology. They want common language which makes sense to them. It’s about breaking down barriers rather than throwing them up with specialist talk.
2. How can we help the guys on the front line to innovate
Leadership teams rightly focus on business outcomes. They might sit in the executive offices, but they have a fine appreciation for those on the front line who are adding the value and making the money. Anything that can improve performance, quality or throughput is going to catch their attention. Good execs appreciate that innovation doesn’t necessarily happen in the back office. Instead, front line people are often the epicentre of innovation - after all, they’re doing the work. Instead of getting tied up in the intricacies of process management and change, how about focusing on how front line staff can be enabled with communication tools that support their ability to not just have great ideas – but to share them and play a role in implementing them.
3. Drive strategic alignment across operations and strategy
Teams need to understand the ‘why’ - what the business is trying to achieve strategically - so they can understand the role they play and so that their efforts are aligned. Process management is precisely about connecting everyday operations with strategic objectives. Be sure that this is clear with communication not only across the frontline but with the executive team too.
Finally, don’t make process improvement an admin function. As process management professionals it’s our job to sell change recommendations and to grab the attention of execs. And the need for exec support doesn’t end once you’ve gained approval to proceed. We know – from observing the process improvement efforts of hundreds of organisations around the world - that a key driver of process improvement success is visible leadership. This means leadership interest, investment and ongoing support.
Implementation works best when the management team is invested – emotionally and literally – in the outcome. Without that drive from the top, your process improvement efforts are very unlikely to succeed.
View our PEX Week 2016 gallery here.