Business Improvement – it’s a process not a tool

By Patricia Egen • August 13th, 2014

Yet again, I met with a new client to discuss their current business “problem” or like I call them – “challenge.”  The client called me looking for a silver bullet or tool.  By the end of the discussion, I believe I had them headed down the right path – that of better defining the process and problem and coming up with an appropriate solution that may or may not be based on a specific tool.

This happens all the time.  That made me realize it would make a good blog article.  A major part of what we do is analysis.  We ask questions, dig down hard to get to the real heart of the problem.  And sometimes the findings are not popular.  It might be related to a specific person or to a whole department or worse, to the whole process as a whole.  But in the end, knowing that there is a problem is part of the cure.

In trying to describe what we do I came up with a graphic that pretty much describes what happens.  Here it is.

consulting cycleBasically, we analyze the situation, come up with a design/recommendation, build or program the design, roll it out and implement it, train on the process (it’s all for naught without training) and then repeat.  Time and time again.

The same thing should happen within an organization.  Don’t just do this once and think that is all you will ever need.  Times change.  The market changes.  You have to be agile so you can adapt quickly if things go bump in the night in your industry.  It’s no longer safe to do this every 5 years.  You need to go back annually and review your processes and do a sanity check to make sure your processes are still valid and appropriate.

Business process improvement is ongoing.  It’s a process not a tool.  Period.  Yes, there are tools out there than can help – but without a game plan they are band-aids.  Stop applying band-aids – instead do major surgery and fix what can be fixed, drop what must be dropped, change what must be changed.  Oh, and this is not easy.  But the results far outweigh the effort involved.  Trust me.  I’ve seen it happen.  Watching it happen right now with two clients.  Scary.  Intense. Revealing.  Rewarding.

 

 

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