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“This method not only provided excellent tools, it also helped us build the habit of criticizing our own process so we can make it better.”

David Scronce,
Director Strategic Initiatives
University of California, Berkeley

 

A “Blank Check” for Process Improvement

 

Guest Blog

By Steven Lesser, InfoWorks.

Let’s face it, we are all comfortable in our routines and practices. We are resistant to change. Yet we complain bitterly when another process or procedure we regard as “inadequate” slows us down.

When we consider ways to improve things, the concept of a “blank check” can help teams and organizations to dream big and come up with solutions that work.  A recent Strategy+Business articledescribes this approach, and how it has been successful in a variety of initiatives.

Whether real or imagined, the blank check is a useful framework for brainstorming solutions.  How could processes be improved if there were no resource constraints?  What is possible?  How would success be monitored and measured?

While “dreaming big” can get things started, getting to the “bottom line” of continuous improvement should be a regular feature in a real-world business environment. In implementing a continuous improvement process, always be sure to:

  • Prioritize processes that need improvement (e.g. that customers complain about or hinder achieving results).
  • Listen for requirements – what is it really that people want?  How can we meet requirements 100% of the time?
  • Design a way to meet requirements. Using tools such as flow charting, design, develop or refine procedures, processes, systems to meet those  requirements.
  • Be sure it works. Test and look for those “sticky” moments through problem anticipation, ripple effect analysis, risk analysis, contingency planning and implementation effectiveness.
  • Make it happen consistently. Monitor implementation and make adjustments based on experience, feedback and, most importantly, success!

Steven Lesser is the Regional Managing Director at InfoWorks; he is based in Sydney, Australia. InfoWorks® International offers expert training and consulting for project management, problem solving, consulting skills,  negotiating, and other key business competencies. InfoWorks has offered corporate training and consulting around the world for more than 20 years.

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1 comment to A “Blank Check” for Process Improvement

  • Reem El-Agha

    Process Improvement:

    Although it is easy to get comfortable with a specific routine, the corporate environment is competitive and constantly changing, which does not call for routine strategies. If news and trends are not kept up with, key opportunities for change can be missed and cause a company to fall behind. This is why I completely agree with the idea of continuous improvement. It is important to have a plan and constantly be monitoring implementations, new and old.

    Improving Marketing Departments can help reduce the amount of low-value work done and can lead to a higher appreciation for the business, externally and internally. Business Maps are a great tool for accomplishing that task. For Marketing Departments to remain effective, they should reduce approval lead times. In fact, 44% of large Marketing Campaigns have increased time to market due to lengthy approvals. Even small initiatives can still encounter roadblocks and unfortunately, resources for effective business process improvements are not always free.

    Most Marketing Managers who want end-to-end business process flows will have to convince higher level executives to bring in a consulting firm who may or may not guarantee any real improvements. Business Process Maps as well as KPIs are great tools when it comes to reforming and standardizing business processes within an organization. The data represented in the process maps is so valuable; no consulting firm will make that data publicly accessible. However, for managers, who cannot make those executive level decisions, there are some resources available. This free online source provides various kinds of process flow templates, benchmarks, best practices and other improvement tools:

    http://opsdog.com/improvement/marketing/processmaps

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