Business process improvement on a shoe-string

For those small to medium organisations out there that are feeling the pain of lax processes, are conscious they need to do something, but know the reality they face when dealing with decision-makers, this post is for you. Amongst your decision makers 101 priorities, their attention span for something they consider as waffly as process improvement is fairly limited.

If you're convinced that process improvement is a fundamental for every business' survival (like we are) and you want to do something about it, you need the decision makers to leave their initial meeting on this subject with two thoughts:

1. Houston we have a problem. If you staying with the status quo this means you're accepting that all the frantic business activity using ad hoc processes leaves your customers and your bottom line at the mercy of the prevailing mood that day. Ambiguity breeds mediocrity, and excuses.

If your decision makers leave the meeting thinking process improvement is building a procedures manual, or 'a really important thing we need to do when we get the time', then sorry, you're shuttle isn't even cleared for take-off.

2. As CEO I set the perceived importance and ownership of our improvement culture. We've seen the effectiveness of a 'lone ranger' improvement approach - an Improvement or Quality Manager fixing problems, passing audits, writing manuals. Real improvement is an attitude driven from the top. Teams can spot BS a mile away. Saying one thing and not acting on it has given excellent programmes like ISO 9001 and LEAN a really bad reputation at a lot of organisations.

If you've got these two ingredients, you're ready to leaving the starting blocks of you process improvement journey.

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Comments (2)

  1. MCR:
    Oct 31, 2013 at 09:39 PM

    And then you'll need a flexible tool that will allow you to make those improvements...

  2. Andy Blunden:
    Nov 07, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    The answer is in the question....Lax processes = people with no ownership. Make people responsible for developing their own tight processes. (not lip service - real permission to improve). Provide a framework, provide support, be prepared to handle some surprises, hold off on criticism, celebrate success, build on it......

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