The reality, however, is very different. Process-centric organizations can actually promote dynamic, innovative behavior. Rather than being constraints, clear processes can help identify and enable new ideas and new ways of working.
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Within these organizations, the positive impact of process management on everything from customer service to staff safety is recognized. Rather than simply focusing on the creation of documentation as the end goal, these organizations are putting the power of process to work in practical ways.
The journey to becoming a process-centric organization is one that is easy to start and can deliver benefits immediately. Here are five key points to consider when starting out:
1. Believe in the 'why'
Everyone in the organization needs to understand and genuinely believe in the ‘why’. What’s the burning platform? Why does the organization really need to change? How will this have an impact on long-term strategy and success?
If everyone is not on board, efforts to change will be a waste of time. For this reason, the role of the leadership team is vital - they must clearly express belief in the company and in the important role that processes must play.
2. Process ownership
For a process-centric culture to permeate an organization, teams need to 'own' their own processes. They need to understand their responsibilities and how their activities fit into the big picture.
An effective ownership framework needs to operate from top to bottom. First, senior management must have complete buy-in, and they should communicate this clearly and regularly. Second, Process Champions should be appointed to ensure activity remains on track and teams stay focused on the task. Third, there are the Process Owners who actually work with the processes every day. They are responsible for establishing and improving processes over time.
3. Information management
Process-centric organizations must have the ability to centrally store and manage their process knowledge. This central store becomes the repository for corporate knowledge about all processes and is an invaluable asset to drive ongoing innovation.
Simply storing information on the g:drive or in word documents doesn’t work. What staff really need is quick access to simple, understandable guidance that helps guide their behaviors every day.
4. Avoid the big bang start
Racing out to capture thousands of processes to build a complete library of information is a knee-jerk reaction, often in response to a realization that processes aren’t adequately understood or controlled. Not only is this not needed, but it can actually result in the opposite of the intended outcome, and further damage the process culture.
Rather than taking a big bang approach - teams can start by brainstorming the list of processes they operate, then selectively move forward, tackling real problems first so people understand it’s being done to drive real outcomes - not just to satisfy audit requirements. Identifying and sharing quick wins will motivate staff to seek further success.
5. Sustain the culture
Sustained effort and innovative improvement lie at the heart of every process-centric organization. As well as clearly understood responsibilities, a communication plan to intentionally share successes and wins will help keep teams engaged and motivated. Another recommended tactic is to set up ongoing structures that can’t disappear when the next priority project turns up. Perhaps a quarterly center of excellence meeting, tracking reports for the executive team or regular cross-functional innovation workshops. Whatever the format - set up a mechanism that drives ongoing and sustainable effort towards improving how teams work.
Despite what many think, the journey to becoming a process-centric organization is not difficult to start, and can quickly become a springboard for innovation. Rather than being an administrative effort that drains the goodwill of teams, process-centric organizations are efficient, agile and ready for the next big challenge.