The process of changing the process

Process is something that is important in business life. Everything is a process. Unless you randomly live your life and have no set rhythm at all, you will have some processes. Even creative writers have some process and engineers are known to have very detailed and documented processes. The process is your friend and saves you from rework. See our earlier article HERE or the premium article HERE .

As your car needs maintenance, however, your processes also need maintenance. In fact most everything we do needs maintenance from time to time. You should review and recheck your ideas about your business from time to time, you should have a fresh look at your team members and the way you are organized and likewise you should check your processes for their health and effectiveness and change things when you know they can be optimized or when circumstances have changed. People do not like change though and therein lies the challenge.

I was a confident two or four finger typist in college (the days your device does not support our picturebefore computers were in the home) but later in life my keyboard skills needed updating to become more effective. The process of two or four finger typing had to be changed to the process of ten finger typing, even blind, so I could keep up with the pace of the department. Well needless to say it was a slow and painful process due to the fact that in between the period of doing away with my trusty two/four finger system and being fluent in the ten finger approach, there was a period of being less effective that made me feel very uncomfortable.

People may dislike change primarily due to the ambiguity and uncertainty during the process change.

Processes also have a tendency to morph into vehicles for different purposes than the one they were developed for. This now becomes an obstacle to change the process as you may not be aware of the alternative uses that have been giving to the process.

In one of the companies I worked for we have a process called: “the third day forecast”. It was a process designed to provide the CEO at his request a forecast of how the business had done over the past quarter within three days after the closing of the books for that quarter. Being a Fortune 500 company, there were quite some elements to this and the whole finance department was extremely busy during the last week of the quarter and the first three days to develop the “third day forecast”. Once the CEO during a meeting with senior managers heard how much work was involved, he immediately said he no longer used that forecast and could not understand why it was still prepared. It turned out that a number of his direct reports had found alternative uses for the processes involved in preparing this “third day forecast” and the process wasn’t killed or even changed despite the CEO’s opinion that it no longer served his purpose. A vivid example of lack of maintenance on a process and resistance to change from the groups involved.

Things that will help the process change are:

  • Make sure you know the process in detail and all uses of it.
  • Be clear about the fact that there is no option, the process will change.
  • Ensure the team knows why the process needs to change (Goal Clarity)
  • Prepare the process change with the people who are most involved
  • Test the new process and allow for adjustments
  • Ensure people know exactly what the new process will look like and how it will work
  • Have a clear timeline and stick to it

To change a process effectively requires a thorough and determined approach. In fact that is a process in itself. You need enough authority, clear communication, a solid dose of creativity and thorough knowledge of the involved parts of the business to pull it off.


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