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Move Your Thinking From Transactions to Processes

One topic of discussion that I find most beneficial for my clients is getting them to move their thinking from transactions to processes. Businesses are full of transactions; products being bought and sold, items being manufactured and distributed. And of course there are other essential tasks like paying the workforce!

When we get lost within the hurly-burly of transactional work, we can lose sight of the overarching business process.

This process is what we need to focus on, in order to improve how the organisation performs.


I'll give you two examples from recent projects:

  • A client held daily production meetings, the primary focus of these being on-time delivery of products. But they had a big issue: There was no forward planning. The result of this was chaos and the daily meetings became an exercise in fire-fighting.
  • Another client operated a relatively efficient manufacturing business. Periodically, however, unexpected problems knocked the normal production activities off course. This could take a week or two to correct. Tasks had a tendency to stack up, so slowing down production.

We can look at these issues differently, so that you can see that the remedies are quite simple.

Problem
Solution
Lack of clarity about what tasks need to be done, and when, in order for the business to 'run like clockwork'.
Capture all of the essential business tasks, work out how often they need to be performed. Assign responsibilities and create routines with which to action those tasks.
Not knowing what 'good' looks like when you are running your processes. This may seem strange, but it happens!
Define some process orientated Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Articulate these targets to help define what 'good' looks like.
Poor coordination between teams / depts. interfering with on-time delivery.
Using Sunrise meetings to ensure that key activities of the previous day have been completed.
Good days lead to great weeks that lead to brilliant months!

What can you take away from this blog post?

  • Simple changes to organising working days can move a team’s thinking away from focusing only on the transactions, and more on running the business as a well-honed process. 
  • Knowing what matters in the business is vital. Having the right ongoing conversations can lead to the right decisions and ultimately help improve business operations.
  • If your business' performance isn't where you want it to be, don't get too upset. Use such results to make needed changes. Unflattering results might be just what you need to get motivated about making the right levels of change within your business.

By undertaking these kinds of actions, improved customer service, excellent delivery performance, and improved profitability can then follow.


Giles Johnston
Author of Business Process Re-Engineering


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Continuous improvement projects often fall foul of this. The day can become so inefficient through the constant stopping and starting that we only just seem to have enough time to get the 'day job' completed.

I was in a meeting last week where this same issue cropped up. It also cropped up today. It's nothing new, but it is still a pain in the rear!

So, let me share with you an approach that has worked for my clients - the 'Hour of Pain!'.

Where there is a (performance) gap there is a concern

I had a really good day yesterday working with a client's team.

The team has issues. Plenty of issues. Some are managerial issues, some are people issues and some are production issues.

When I first met the team they didn't know what to do with their issues, so I started by helping them to see more issues.

Issues everywhere, they didn't seem very impressed.

And then we captured the issues as 'concerns' into the tried and tested 'concern cause countermeasure' format and followed the process:

Concerns probed for root causes and root causes converted into countermeasures.
Soon they realised that some of their root causes dealt with numerous concerns and they gained momentum.

Yesterday we pulled another one of their processes apart and identified all of the gaps. The gaps became concerns and we fed them back into the process. Now they have a practical action plan (of countermeasures) to upgrade the process in question.

What do you do with your performance gaps? …

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Use the continuous improvement cycle properly.Get projects moving, if they are slow to start or have stalled.Identify the 'biggest bang for your buck' when reviewing opportunities.Determine the level of change you need to achieve through your improvements.Flip staff grumbles and concerns into positive improvement actions.Increase the overall rate of progress on your projects. All of the tips are highly practical and are no-cost strategies.
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Enjoy reading,

Giles
About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous i…