Introductions: From tool based to outcome focused

As most of you would agree, the Process Excellence space provides an incredible breadth of opportunities to enhance business performance. Over the years, I’ve been truly mesmerized by all the incredible case studies and business outcomes that I’ve seen colleagues and the teams that I’ve supported achieve. There is unquestionable value in the breadth of process improvement tools and approaches.

One could wonder why there isn’t wider acceptance of these process improvement approaches as the business community is likely losing billions of dollars each year in missed opportunity. While there are many different causes for this missed opportunity, some of which I will explore in future posts, there is one that strikes me as easily addressable.

Do you focus on the outcome or the tool?

In many discussions with senior business leaders, I’ve noticed what I would term the dichotomy between the language of business and the language of process improvement. What I mean by this is that most business leaders are motivated and rewarded through the direct delivery of business outcomes whether operational, financial or customer experience focused.

While some may disagree, most of us within the process improvement space first speak about tools or approaches (often landing on an intellectual debate over which tools are better) and too often I’ve seen a desire to stay away from direct outcome ownership. This appears contradictory as most deployments track and communicate outcomes but the subtlety is around whether this is as a bi-product of a method or the direct intent and focus.

To illustrate my point, in just the past two weeks this theme came up four times in conversations with senior leaders in both Asia and the Americas. One leader expressed her frustration that she’d spoken to over 100 deployment leaders in the past year and all but one started by talking about or selling an approach or methodology. A second one was sharing his frustration with lack of direct commitment to outcomes within his improvement teams and was starting to question the value of a traditional approach to process improvement.

Through these posts, I will seek to stimulate and provoke dialogue through provocative questions and themes. I encourage you to comment and share your perspectives either directly on the PEX Network, through Twitter or directly through email.

What has your experience been? When engaging in a business dialogue, do you identify yourself though tools or methods? To what degree is your deployment fully rewarded on outcome performance (not indirectly by saying that the business owners own the outcomes)? To what degree do you recruit process improvement leaders with prior operational or P&L leadership experience?


Please note: The views expressed in this blog are those of Eric Michrowski and may not necessarily reflect those of his employer