When pursuing an improvement activity, it is absolutely critical to that one defines the process of the activity to be improved. Whether this is an effort to reduce cycle time in an operation or the installation of a new IT system, understanding the process is essential to ensuring the improvement is successful.
However, before diving into process definition, it is even more important to take a step back from the process and first ask, “What it the purpose of this activity, and what value does it provide the customer?”
For activities around new processes, products, or services, organizations typically consider Value in order to determine whether or not the new activity is worth doing. Many even check to see if, once implemented, the activity delivered the Value that was promised, usually through some sort of benefits realization exercise.
But, what about for existing activities? How often do we look at our current activities and determine the purpose (why are we doing this?) and the Value the activity brings to the customer, especially before attempting to modify or improve it? Because defining purpose and value is often deemed “Strategic” people feel that strategy is someone else’s responsibility. While setting the strategy may indeed be done at the board level, thinking strategically is everyone’s responsibility.
It is this Strategic Thinking aspect that is simply overlooked or assumed, and thus our desire to jump straight into the Tactical portion, where some may say is the place “things get done.” While “things” may get done at the Tactical level, if you’re not working on the right “things” that either add value or keep you from adding value to your customers, you’re wasting your time.
Before we can even start talking about the Process, we must define the Purpose (the why) and the Value that is delivered to the customer. Once this is determined, with involvement of the People, then a tactical focus on the Process can begin.
Let me know your thoughts!