How Do You Demonstrate Process Improvement
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One of the most important things that successful companies implement into their work processes is process improvement. This term comes from operations research, a field that looks at how to make efficient use of resources to achieve your company’s goals.
Processes are what guides how everything in an organization functions. For example, when you go to the grocery store, there is a set process that takes place. First, you pick out products. Then, you organize them by shelf or cart. Finally, you put them away until you can get to the store room where they are stored.
At Your Company, There Are Many Systems In Place That Don’t Work
It’s very possible that some of the systems in place at your workplace no longer work for why your job doesn’t keep you as busy as it did before. It may be hard to recognize exactly what system needs to be reworked, but chances are good that something isn’t working quite right.
When this happens, someone higher up the corporate ladder will sometimes ask if anyone knows anything about process improvement. They might give a talk about it, offer to pay for training, or even hire a consultant to help you do it.
This article will go over all three of those options, along with another one that I have never seen mentioned before.
History of process improvement
Over the past few years, you have probably noticed that there is a lot of talk about improving processes or even changing what people call a process to make it more efficient. This conversation has been happening at work, in your community, around town, and even online where you can find discussions with tips and tricks for making our lives better by organizing how we do things.
Some refer to this as process reengineering, system redesign, or just improved processes. The term “process” refers to an action or set of actions done within a framework of steps or procedures. So, while talking about process may sound vague and general, when applied to the right context, they are very specific!
Forming good processes takes time so don’t expect perfection the first time around. Keep practicing and refining your skills until you get it right. That’s what will matter most in the end.
Processes come and go. New trends emerge emphasizing different qualities of efficiency. Then, other concepts fall out of fashion because they no longer feel effective or appropriate.
For example, one of the main reasons why many companies use batch processing instead of real-time communication during the production stage is cost. Having large groups of people working independently and having separate queues for each person makes producing the finished product much cheaper.
The process improvement model
The term “process” is typically associated with something that needs to be done, such as baking a cake or washing your clothes. But what if we re-defined process? What if we said that every action an organization takes is actually part of a larger process?
In this new definition, the word process no longer has to refer only to what tasks get done; it can also mean the way in which those tasks are accomplished. This more broad interpretation sets up the idea that you could redesign or improve any part of the organizational structure or methodology used to complete work — even if those changes are not related to what tasks get done.
This concept was first described by Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas in their book The Leader's Work. They called this mode of thinking process improvement.
You may have heard the expression "think outside the box" before. That comes from this theory. When people say they want to use the approach of looking at the whole process, they mean they want to look beyond the usual boundaries of how thingsare usuallydone.
By applying the concepts of process improvement to work, you can create ways to make life for employees better through motivation, empowerment, and creativity. If you're already doing some thinging processes, you can start adding other ones to increase employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction.
To try out these ideas, do not take them seriously. Apply fun to test out the theories.
The 9 tips for process improvement
The first two tips in this cluster of processes are about defining process and streamlining execution. These are very important concepts when trying to improve any system or function.
Defining process means making sure you understand what each step is, how it fits into the bigger picture, and what role it plays in producing the end product. This way, you can start with the steps that seem most basic and work up from there!
Streamlining execution refers to looking at your current process to see if there are ways to change it or add new components to it. There may be tools already designed to do some parts of the job, so why not use those instead? Or maybe there is something simple you can add onto the existing process to make more efficient progress.
1) Make it clear what is expected
A lot of people try to emphasize how important it is to have process improvement initiatives in place, but they fail to describe them clearly. This can be confusing for your colleagues who are trying to understand what you expect from them, and also hinder their own ability to contribute.
It’s easy to assume that someone else has done things like putting stickers on the doors or creating color-coded charts, so you don’t need to do those things yourself. But if you don’t make sure everyone understands the concepts behind these processes, then nobody will.
Your colleagues might not agree with some parts of the process you want to implement, and this could create conflict. Even when there’s no disagreement, they may put less effort into something because they feel like you’re taking advantage of them.
If this happens, even though it was your initiative, it’s still possible to re-engage and motivate them by emphasizing the importance of the concept beyond just your job.
2) Provide frequent feedback
As an employee, you must be willing to give your colleagues constructive criticism at all times. If you don’t, they will not feel valued or trusted, which is one of the main ingredients in creating an environment where improvement happens.
As a manager, you must show employees that you care by giving them timely and honest critiques. They will trust you more if they believe that you take time to evaluate their work.
It sounds obvious, but too many people forget this important part of being a successful leader. When there are problems, staff may come to you for help, but if you can't give them helpful advice because you didn’t know about the problem until it happened once, then what use is your leadership skills?
If you're never making mistakes, how can you tell someone else whether their approach is working or not? It's impossible to do that when you've never been given a chance to test your methods. - Tony Robbins
In his book The Power of Giving, Richard Burch talks about something he calls the "pyramid effect." He says that as we get better at doing something, our ability to perform that activity gets easier and easier. But what happens is that instead of getting slightly better, eventually we reach a point where we could stop practicing our craft completely and still outperform most other experts out there.
That's why he recommends consistently providing high-quality performance reviews to your subordinates.
3) Get all parties involved
A process improvement initiative should not be limited to just those in leadership positions, nor is it appropriate to have only internal stakeholders participate. External partners and clients will not fully invest their trust in you if there are significant changes being made within the organization.
They want to know that what they’re paying for – whether it’s professional services or products - is worth its price. And they want to make sure that any changes will not negatively impact the company.
These considerations can get in the way of making necessary changes, so ensuring everyone’s participation at this stage is essential to success.
Involve as many people as possible throughout the project. This could mean having informal conversations with colleagues in an open area, holding a meeting, or gathering specific individuals for one-on-one interviews. Make your messages clear and focus on why changing the current system is important, not about who won’t like you anymore!
If some tough questions arise, go into them ahead of time and work through them together. This way, no one feels judged and/or threatened, which can sometimes be the hardest hurdle to overcome.
5) Make it visible
People are not going to show you how to do their job unless you see them doing theirs, so make sure that your department has open meetings where people can discuss issues, things can be discussed as openly as possible, and everyone knows what is being done.
This also means holding listening sessions with other departments or individuals for information, input, and feedback. By having these conversations, you will learn a lot about your colleagues and the way they operate which can help you in your own work.
By having these types of discussions, you will begin to see changes happen naturally. When something new is introduced into your workplace, there will be some initial reactions. This could mean changing what you were doing before, trying out the new technique, or putting off what you were doing previously.
It is important to listen to those negative comments, even if you believe that they are wrong. If someone says that their job is impossible because you cannot change what others do, then that may push others to try harder.
If someone says that nothing ever gets done due to lack of resources, give them access to more resources!
By introducing changes that improve efficiency and effectiveness, people will feel motivated to keep up momentum and help each other succeed.
7) 8) 9) Celebrate success
It is important to recognize your efforts for what they are-efforts that have not been consistently repeated yet remain significant.
It takes more than just announcing a process improvement or two to get focused attention. What makes an impact happens when people see it in action on a regular basis.
Celebrating successful iterations of a process can help others understand the importance of process improvements. People may also learn from you how to implement processes themselves.
By having fun with the effort, people will be less likely to ignore the projects that need changes.