fredag 7 november 2014

If you work with processes, here is an advice for you! Stop it!

Well i don't really mean stop it literally. I mean that it is not the best way to communicate what we do. I work with processes. My work is largely based on processes and process steps, process models and flow diagrams etc. I think and i breath processes and i really like it. One thing i do try to do though is to mention the word process, as little as I possible can, when i work, why? Because it is perceived as very boring, sometimes even not relevant and have in general an undeserved bad reputation. How many times haven't you heard someone mentioning a "process project" in a negative way? well i have heard that a lot. Just listen to the community. There are 9 to 1 negative references of processes compared to positive (not a scientific measurement). The interesting thing here is that once in a while you actually meet that 1 reference and here is the fascinating part. When asking about the project the word process rarely appears. 

The process itself is very important in the right context. Consider it as a tool. If you would hire a carpenter to build a porch for you, you would explain what you want to do on the porch. How many people you would like to fit when dining on the porch. If you want shade on a specific part of it etc. You might even have a sketch drawn of how you picture it. The carpenter would ask things like if you want parts of it painted, if you want a fence, stairs and handrails, overall size etc. 

What he would not do is to talk about what dimension of wood he is planning to use or name all the different tools he needs to build the porch. He would definitely not take them out of his car and start showing them to you. 

That is sadly the case to often when it comes to process work. When we try to show the beauty of a process. How we can establish measurability. how it enables us to assure that significant events occur in a planed and predicted way. how we can learn from the outcome and make sure we accomplish the expected benefits. What do we do? we show all the carpenters tools and the timber. 

The largest part of process work is people and culture. Never underestimate this. How to be relevant to people is key to create engagement and participation. How relevant are we when we start showing all the carpeting tools? we are not! 

If you are about to embark on a journey with a new or existing process, do not say process implementation. Don't even mention process and please not in the same sentence as implementation. What you are actually doing is:

- Establish a "current baseline". Yes you will have to do a process but please don't show it to anybody. The point here is to understand how things are run now.
- Define the expected outcome/value that is not to satisfaction. This means that you actually have to understand the expected outcome so please talk to a person who experience it first hand.
- Design a target state. Yes you will have to do another process but do not show it to anyone. This should accomplish the goals.
- Do a GAP analysis that clearly identifies the weaknesses in the baseline and the countermeasure for it, based on target state. 

And now to the single most important success criteria working with processes.

- Describe how these improvements can be achieved by involving the right people, stakeholders etc. and how to get their buy-in. If you don't manage and succeed with this there is no point. Use the ejector seat and get out of there. 

If people and culture is 80% of process work you end up with the following:

You succeed 100% with 80% of the work and only 50% of the last 20% of the work you still have a success rate of 90%. If people buy-in they tent to do an amazing job. 

If you focus on the wrong parts and succeed 100% with the 20% of work and then 50% of the last 80% of the work you have a success rate of 60%. Engaging the wrong people about the wrong stuff might seem as progress at the moment but you ability to succeed dramatically decreases. 

So please :) if you work with processes. Please stop!