Day of the Dead: How to revive your zombified process

Craig Sharp

There are zombies lurking in every office. Yes you read that correctly, the chances are you have at least one dragging you down at work right now. They lurk in every corner, they hide in every in tray, slowly decomposing and spreading their sickness indiscriminately.

I’m talking of course, about those ‘undead’ processes, the ones that once were full of life and vigor, but have since become a bit stiff in the joints and started to take on a much paler complexion.

He’s behind you!

Sure, these processes might still be followed (in half-hearted fashion at least), but long gone are the enthusiasm and hope your processes once promised, to be replaced by something much more… lifeless. A zombie process can eat away at productivity, at best it might still kind of meet your needs (some needs at least) but much of the time and energy spent on it might be counter-productive and seen as another ‘have to’ by staff members, negatively impacting morale.

So how do you revive your undead process excellence program? What can be done to breath life back into that old corpse? And more to the point – should you even try?

Step #1 – Reassess the need for the process

A process followed simply because "it’s what we’ve always done" could actually be the worst kind of process, sucking the time and productivity out of staff for no reason other than sheer familiarity. But unlike the blood sucking vampire, once you’ve invited these zombified processes into your home or office, you CAN get rid of them.

Reassess the process, why do you do it? Who is it for? Is it still needed and valuable? This must be the first step before you can decide whether or not your zombified process is even worth further treatment.

Step #2 – Find yourself a Priest/Wizard/Sage

The next step will be to find yourself a wise old sage (think Professor Van Helsing of Dracula or Dr Loomis of Halloween), someone who can provide you with any needed exposition – history of the process, how it came to be, and more importantly what is required to take it from ‘zombie’ status to once again being relevant. A good analytics or strategic mind with a working knowledge of the process you’re trying to rescue.

After all, it likely became a zombie for a reason, in order to save it, it may need to go through a magical transformation – tweaks and adjustments to bring the process up to date and make it relevant to business goals once more.

Step #3 – Find yourself a hero

As with any good story (or in our case, horror movie) you’re only going to survive if you find yourself a good hero/heroine. A champion if you will. The same applies here, once you’ve decided that your zombified process still has a faint pulse, it’s time to recruit a hero to help save it. It’ll need to be someone senior and someone who genuinely buys into the process you’re trying to save (maybe they were involved with the process before decomposition began to set in).

Your zombie at this stage should already be looking healthier. With the help of your sage, and your own love, care and attention, color should already be returning to its cheeks and it should now resemble something living and breathing. It’s at this stage that your champion needs to step in and fight for its salvation, promoting the value of the renewed process throughout your company, explaining to people the business goals it meets and the benefits of keeping it around and working through it with renewed vigor.

Step #4 – Release it into the wild

You’ve established that your process is worthy of salvation, your sage and your champion have assisted you in building the process back up, softening up the joints and breathing life back into the old corpse. Now, instead of the pallid, stumbling zombie that once dragged down your business, you have a healthy, living and breathing asset – a process that works for your company and helps you achieve your business goals.

All that is left to do at this point is to release your cured process into the wild, helping it spread throughout the company. There may still be doubters and nonbelievers, but with your champion by your side, you must ensure that the message remains the same – this process is cured, it’s here to stay and if followed, it’ll make everyone’s lives a lot easier.

Just be sure to give it room to breath, keep it locked down in the mausoleum again for too long and you never know when you’ll be facing your next zombie outbreak…

…Happy Halloween!