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Can saying 'no' improve a process?

How many processes do you have in your business that you bend and twist, trying to accommodate the way people work?

I know of many businesses that feel this same frustration.

They design a process for their business, to improve how it works, and then find that no one uses it.

They do find that the intention is still there. They do find that some people do try to follow the steps of the process.

But, in my experience, the most common response given (in these situations) is 'we have to be flexible and that's why we can't run our process the way that we should'.

However, if you peel back the conversations that take place (aka Root Cause Analysis) you can often find that the input to the process is not correct:

  • People skipping initial steps because 'they're in a rush'.
  • Activities that aren't joined up, and create a stoppage within the 'official' process.
  • A lack of awareness of how you start the process in the first place.
Fix the input and often the process can then work properly.

It can take discipline to make this happen, but when the results start to come through (better performance, easier work life etc...) habits start to form and stick.

And, sometimes it means that you need to say 'no' to people:
  • No to skipping steps.
  • No to badly handed over parts of the process.
  • No to new members of staff being allowed to do their own thing (whether it is your fault or theirs).
Saying 'no' can make a big difference to how your processes work.



Giles Johnston
Creator of the 'Making It Happen' online course for improving personal change management skills.