7 Deadly Sins of Process Excellence

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Is your organization’s process excellence program struggling? Are you ignoring the needs of your customer? Olalekan Alominle, Process Specialist at MainOne depicts 7 deadly sins you may fall victim to...


Sin #1: Designing systems and processes that don’t meet customer needs

Ignore the needs of your customer at your peril. As Henry Ford once put it, "it’s the customer who pays the wages." If you get caught up in designing fancy processes and systems that don’t ultimately serve the needs of those who pay your wages – i.e. your customer - you might just find you’ve engineered yourself out of a job!

Sin #2: Not involving your workers in process improvement

Process improvement would be easy if it weren’t for the people, right? Wrong! Your people are your most valuable source of ideas and information. They’re the ones actually doing the work so they’ll be able to spot the opportunities and problems faster than you. Not only that, but the likelihood that process improvement will be successful is rapidly improved if workers come up with their own solutions. After all, who likes to be bossed around?

Sin #3: Misguided & misaligned metrics

You can’t manage what you can’t measure was the mantra of former GE CEO Jack Welch. Metrics are an important mechanism for making problems and performance visible and helping to guide better decisions. But too often, companies try to measure everything. This results in a situation where you’re data rich but information poor. Worse, badly designed metrics can go awry and end up rewarding the wrong kinds of behavior or even leading to completely unintended consequences. Make sure you’re measuring what you should be measuring, that the data is telling you what you think it’s telling you, and that you’ve thought through how that information will be used.

Sin #4: Lack of process visibility and ownership

Does anyone in your company have any idea what’s really going on? In most companies, everyone is so focused on their own piece of the puzzle that they lose sight of the bigger picture. This can lead to inefficiency, sub-optimization and even "pain" for your customers who get shunted from one department to the next. Someone needs to be responsible for understanding and improving the entire process and making its performance visible.

Sin #5: Ignoring technology

Forget the old monolithic IT behemoths of days gone by. Today’s technology is faster, lighter and easier to implement than ever before. You have the potential to radically redesign and reinvent your processes for improved business performance and happier customers. And if you don’t do it, you can bet your bottom dollar that your competitors are working out how they’re going to. So time to cosy up and get friendly with your IT team…

Sin #6: Failure to continually improve

In nature, species are constantly evolving to better adapt to their environments and outmanoeuvre their competitors. Those that fail to evolve rapidly enough don’t survive. Why should companies be any different? Making continuous process improvement part of the DNA of your company is not a "nice to have" but essential to the long term success of your business.

Sin #7: Making it too complicated

Do you really need a machine gun to kill a fly? Didn’t think so! If you find yourself designing to complex solutions to simple problems, take a step back and ask yourself "what would Steve Jobs have done?" Reduce complexity, strip out the unnecessary and make your processes beautiful!