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“We have successfully used Lean in manufacturing and the supply chain, and we recognized there was a wealth of opportunity beyond the manufacturing floor for the application of lean. We wanted to find someone who had an experience base with business support processes to bring lean to that audience of our company. Shelley provided us that credible source. She brought numerous examples from her experience about how lean principles and tools apply to office and service operations, and helped translate employee questions to show them how the principles applied to what they do.”

Jesse Shearin,
Director of Enterprise Excellence
PPG Industries Inc.


Write Your Own Lottery Ticket – Building Innovative BPM Redesigns

What if you could write your own lottery ticket? Well, you would surely write one that would be a winner! And that’s exactly what I recommend doing when the process improvement team gets to the redesign phase. Create a wining process redesign!

Up until this point the team has been doing left brain activity, documenting the current state and analyzing it using different techniques to find the gaps between today’s process and the goals for the new process.  Now it is time to shift to a more creative right brain approach and build the redesigned process. 

The purpose of the Redesign phase is to create a better process.  The new process should meet the Process Owner (or sponsor’s) goals, satisfy customer needs and requirements, and achieve the success metrics. Of course that also means that employees are functioning in their new roles, new applications and systems integration are in place, and the metrics are being tracked once it is implemented. You know you are successful when these things are happening.

Now here’s how to build the momentum, get new ideas from the team members, and create a new process design.

Consider some preliminary techniques to build the inspire the juices and establish some foundational principles:

  • Benchmark another process similar to your own to see what’s working in that one, and what new ideas they have used that you could ‘steal shamelessly’.
  • Review the before and after of another scenario to see what kinds of problems it had and what improvements were built into the new process design.
  • Review the Rules for Redesign, or guiding principles that are beneficial in process design. See my former blog, “Top Ten Rules for Redesign of BPM Process” from some of my former students. 

Get Ideas on Paper and Share Them

Give everyone the following assignment:

  1. Each team members writes a story (3-4 paragraphs) or draws a picture (no flow chart symbols) of the what the new process should look like.  Be open –there are no constraints – money and resources are not a problem.  But you want to meet the sponsor’s goal, achieve customer delight, and make a major reduction in time, costs, and steps.  Incorporate one or two rules for redesign into your story or picture. Allow 15-20 minutes.  If you make this time too short people don’t have the time to be creative and silly and the results will be more generic.
  2. Then go around the team and have each person share their story or picture.  I like to have them state the rules for redesign they used as well.
  3. The Team Facilitator makes a list on a chart of the common themes from the stories and pictures, by eliciting ideas from the group.

Developing the Redesigned Model

Now it is time to build the first draft of the To Be model. I suggest doing it on a white board or large butcher paper so everyone on the team can see it together.  Get them all standing up and working in front of the board. Of course you can do it on a large screen electronically too and broadcast that in a videoconference.  (I don’t like it quite a well, but I have done it and it works, although it takes a bit longer.) Remind the team that it should not be in the swim lane format to start. Using a swim lane format encourages the team to keep the same actors and roles as the current state, which may not be what the new process needs. If the team wants to indicate new roles, write performer names in some task boxes to point out a new concept or idea (for example, group manager triages applications).  Allow two to three hours to build the new diagram.

Some teams like to draw a graphic of the new process to start, for example, to display where all the information from different databases or applications is coming from.  Then they create the new process design after that.  The graphic can set a foundation and display different flows than the process diagram.

Usually the team is quite excited by the new design.  They see the process laid out visually incorporating many of the improvements they have been talking about and adding new ideas.  They see how the process time will be shortened, rework reduced, and complexity removed. Often they see possibilities never considered as they began the project because the ideas had not yet been formulated or because the team members were still thinking from their silos. They are excited about telling others about what they have created and then seeing the new process implemented. 

It is helpful to have the team sleep on the new design, and come back to it.  I suggest applying some pragmatic analytical techniques such as roles and responsibilities matrix or a risk assessment to the new design as well, as a means of testing it and making initial revisions.  This can be done at a later meeting, when they review the design again. 

Then the Project Lead and Team Facilitator will review the new design with the Process Owner as well, getting his comments and ideas.  But don’t ‘bore’ the Process Owner with by going through every step in the new process. Instead cover

  • What is the team particularly excited about in the new design?
  • How will the new design meet the Improvement targets and address customer needs?

After the review with the Process Owner, the team members can vet the new design with colleagues and other stakeholders as well. 

There are several ways to inspire creative designs, such as using Biomimcry concepts or applying different use case scenarios with specific improvement criteria such as speed, customer delight, or quality.  So use the method I suggest above or find another that works in your organization, but make sure you build your own winning lottery ticket!

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3 comments to Write Your Own Lottery Ticket – Building Innovative BPM Redesigns

  • Reading this approach makes me ask quite a few questions:

    Why go through all this design trouble? if eveyone has to write down how the process should work then they know it already. How about letting people sit down at the right tool and simply do the process rather than drawing it out and documenting it as-is and to-be. How about not just thinking about goals but actually defining them as part of the process and add data, content, and rules to tasks (dependent or arbitrary) as they do so?

    In this case it is not an abstract exercise but everyone participates and sees immediately what the others are doing and if it works. The process owner can have full transparency and control and once the process fulfills the goals he can save it as a template. The As-IS turns on the fly in the To-Be and it does so every day as the process is being performed. The main problem is that most BPM tools have such a huge implementation overhead that there is no other way. That is really a thing of the past.

    Performers should further have no need to think in swimlanes but rather in goals. Teams should be in any case a definition outside the process as otherwise the process breaks at the slightest reorganization. To define compliance it must be simple to write rules that attach to any entity of the process.

    I propose that your described BPM approach is outdated and just slows down both the creation of the process and most of all continuous improvement. Plus, once the process is created it disown the people who created and those who do it. With an ACM approach the performers own the process. That is one of the most serious issues with orthodox BPM and methodology.

    • shelley

      I am pleased to have you comment on my blog, as I read many of the blogs you write, and I am a fan of ACM but do not think it has to replace BPM. I think that some standardization is key and looking at current process, and getting quantitative data about it to analyze it before redesign enables much larger sustainable improvements. I would love to prototype the output immediately and have done that in certain situations. Of course it starts with goals – I call those improvement targets with additional vision.
      Can you recommend a seminar in ACM that is not tool dependent so I do not get hooked on a proprietary tool? Or is there one best tool already?

      • Thanks for the reply, Shelley. I am not saying that ACM should replace BPM but it can. Not all ACM solutions are capable of doing so as many do not offer flow-diagrams as well. ACM solutions come in many flavors depending on their focus. Therefore their is no common seminar. But there are a number of ACM related sessions in several of the BPM events now.

        Yes, some standardization makes sense but that applies only to some elements of processes or a few complete processes. Wherever people and customers are involved upfront standardization in design remoes the ability to serve them as individuals. I know tha thtis is often the desire because the assumption is that the variation increases cost. It is wrong to transfer this from manufacturing into human interaction. With human interaction the lack of adaptibility increases cost and reduces the customer satisfaction. Variation is not bad but needed. ACM in difference to BPM enables that while still keeping the process under control. Successful variations that produce the right outcome can easily be reused.

        Goals in ACM are not the improvement targets, they are the actual work goals to be reached and defined explicitly in the process. Targets are operational numbers such as cost and time to completion. A goal is to achieve a certain outcome and customer satisfaction.

        All the best, Max

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