How sound process management can entrench your company values
- Processes help remove inconsistencies, eliminate waste and foster continuous improvement
- Process excellence should move beyond a business unit and into the organization as a whole
- Tagging processes for company values places emphasis on the organization's culture
The mission and values of a company are more than soundbites for the annual report. They should shape the purpose and business approach applied to all operations, from production, people, marketing, management and beyond. It is vital that company values are incorporated into business operations at more than just surface level.
While this is an excellent aspiration, many organizations struggle to implement such a holistic approach. This is where good process management habits can come to the rescue.
Striving to do better
A common approach to continuous improvement is to utilize the central aspects of lean methodology to highlight process weak points. Born from the Toyota Production System of the mid-twentieth century, one of the core concepts of lean methodology is to 'do better' – to preserve value and remove waste in all its forms.
There are numerous treatises on the various facets of this pursuit, which can be summarized as three, five or seven basic tenets, depending on who you ask. Significant work has been done on these underpinning values and principles. At its very heart though, the idea is to remove unnecessary burdens and inconsistencies and eliminate waste, fostering continuous improvement while respecting those involved in every step of the process.
It’s a simple but effective approach to optimizing the organization’s processes for efficient, effective operation. Many organizations have integrated these concepts into their business processes, optimizing procedures when potential savings were identified. This is often achieved by using ‘tags’ to mark points of potential waste, process breakdowns or opportunities for improvement.
A business can identify weak points in its processes by analyzing process reports and clusters of tags. This can also pinpoint systemic issues which provide ongoing opportunities for improvement.
Process and culture are complementary
At the heart of continuous improvement is the drive to engage the entire organization in the pursuit of process excellence in such a way that impacts every aspect of the business. This strategy moves beyond a program or business unit, to become a core part of the organizational culture.
Whether it is lean methodology, Six Sigma or a more general process improvement initiative, it has to impact the company at a cultural level in order to overcome organizational inertia.
Just as the practices of continuous improvement can develop excellence at a procedural level, they can help a business engage more meaningfully with its values.
Know the health status of your company values
This framework becomes particularly helpful when you swap out the lean markers for customized tags that represent the organization’s core values. Instead of tagging points of potential waste or wait times to be eliminated, process activities can be noted when they conform to or reinforce corporate values.
An organization that values innovation, like Salesforce, for instance, could highlight the aspects of their business processes that encourage and enable creativity within the teams using them.
Walmart’s emphasis on integrity could be tagged wherever processes focus on transparency and accountability. Amazon’s famous commitment to customers satisfaction would be flagged wherever business teams were able to engage in positive change for added customer value.
What results is a company-wide picture of the ‘value health’ of the organization. Simple process reports that capture the frequency and spread of these tags will reveal a comprehensive picture of how deeply the values truly run across day-to-day operations.
Processes that are missing value tags can then be used to re-examine how a particular business unit, product group or geographical location are addressing the values in question. When examined across the organization as a whole, an imbalance in the spread of values can indicate a lack of understanding of certain tenets of the business, or a potential conflict with those beliefs.
Prioritize value excellence along with process excellence
Utilizing a simple methodology like value tagging processes, capitalizes on what most companies are already doing: extending process excellence to value excellence can be a natural and seamless progression.
A clear picture of how deeply your values really run can emerge when you capture the impact of company values on actual business processes. It provides both a snapshot of the integrity of the values, and a roadmap to improve how they shape the organization.
Tying values to the day-to-day practices of every business team ensures they remain front-of-mind and grounds them in the reality of how the company does business at every point.