The 3 attitudes to process

Shall we invest real money into ongoing process improvement?

A question we come across regularly and it got me thinking about how there seem to be three main attitudes to process. I've listed their characteristics below:

Type 1: Trust me, I know what I’m doing...

  • Message from the top: processes don’t really change that often
  • Confident that experienced staff know what they’re doing
  • Deal with process issues as they happen, repeatedly 
  • Place almost no value on intentional process effort, consider it compliance paperwork
  • Staff attitude and morale is: we’re busy being busy
  • Usually start-ups and < 10 staff
  • Although roughly >20% of organisations have >50 staff 

Type 2: Process mapping seems important, we’ll do it when we get time

  • Message from the top: smart process is important (the talk)
  • But, when push comes to shove its not a must have (the walk)
  • Willing to invest in expert advice and one-off projects (eg: LEAN)
  • Not willing to commit a % of team time to process 
  • Process manuals created sporadically and ignored consistently
  • Invest in solutions to fix broken processes
  • Maybe still >60% of these organisations have >50 staff

Type 3: Smart process is smart business

  • Message from the top: process awareness is a must have
  • The little things count to customers, intentional differentiator vs competitors
  • Higher than average levels of staff morale (feeling of control even if things not perfect)
  • Structures in place making process part of peoples jobs and targets
  • Process driven system selection
  • Gains from improvements are sustainable
  • Still less than 20% of organisations, but growing quickly.

We find that type 1 and type 2 attitudes are still the norm. I think we’re now into the phase where lax processes could be compared to say smoking in the 80’s. We’re not kidding ourselves anymore, there’s growing evidence it’s not good for your health, so we’ll keep smoking, but stamp some warnings on cigarette packets. 

Type 1 and type 2 organisations are now shifting to ‘smart process’ businesses, and the rest sadly, continuing with the smoking analogy, will just die off as they are beaten by smarter competitors.

See how Promapp could help your organisation shift to become a type 3 ‘smart process’ business.

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Comments (1)

  1. Adolph de Sousa:
    Aug 14, 2014 at 06:38 AM

    In my experience many large organisations have moved from Type 1 organisations in the 1990s to Type 2 organisations.
    Building a culture of continuous improvement throughout all levels and sustaining it in the organisation (which Type 3 is ) continues to be a challenge. That is where I think Promapp software if embraced by the whole organisation has a great promise. Some of the reasons why it is difficult to move from Type 2 to Type 3 are:
    1) constant change/ mobility of leadership bringing new bosses in areas who are less committed to the discipline imposed by Promapp and similar applications
    2) the record of organisations who use lean sigma as a pretext to downsizing/restructuring etc - particularly in public sector organisations. (In other words, negative messages about the consequences of lean sigma on existing personnel etc)
    3) the view that experts in the field of lean sigma who are internal to the organisation are less acceptable to the periodic internal reviews rather than getting 'external' experts. This notion is also partly promoted by the external experts who depend on periodic consultancy contracts from such organisations.

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