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It’s all about process

How recently have you mapped the flow of your key processes – the ones that make money for your business? When we hear concerns (dare we say complaints?) about employee performance, it’s often about individuals’ inability to follow through correctly first time and every time thereafter. Team members don’t come to work thinking about how to mess things up. If the output is not consistently meeting your goal, it’s likely that the process needs attention.

Inputs and outputs

Sometimes the hardest part of this project is to determine where the beginning and the end are because your business consists of a system that contains many processes, some of which are directly connected to one another. A process begins with an input and ends with an output. Part of the value of mapping is that you can then generate metrics for the outputs of each process and gain a clear understanding of how the business is performing at each stage.

Let’s look at an example by using a simplified (block) model for ACME Pizza Shoppe.

The input for the first process would be a phone call or web-based request, and the output would be the order. The order is then passed to the person(s) who prep the pizza. You could choose to measure the time needed to place an order, the % of correct orders, etc. Same goes for each mini process within the larger model.

Notice that the diagram above is not detailed about exactly what happens within each block. You’d want to go into detail about who does what with what materials, and how long it takes to perform each part of the larger system. There might be one person handling the whole thing, or you might have an assembly line of sorts to get it done.

Problems and opportunities for innovation can arise during each process, or between each process. In any case you need to determine what the output (or widget) is from each step. Then you can measure things like:

· What is our total cycle time to go from taking the order to delivering the pizza? (Remember how Domino’s was burnt years ago by their 30-minute guarantee?)

· Is one part of our system underperforming, or creating a bottleneck for subsequent connected processes?

· How many completed pizzas did we deliver?

· Are there alternative ways to perform this process that are faster or cheaper, or with more consistent outputs?

Your team members work your processes. Leadership is responsible for developing and maintaining processes that meet your company’s and customers’ goals.

- Coach Julie


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