Tip Sheet Series: Processes and Procedures
Updated: May 10
As an employee, understanding your value within the organization is critical to exceeding product quality standards and customer expectations. Check your structural value with these questions:
1. How have we solved this problem in the past?
When this well-intentioned comment is raised, any good process person will have a chill run down their back. While 2nd or 3rd generation iterations of a previous solution may be the easiest and most convenient approach, it puts on blinders to what may be true root cause issues. Start with a good problem definition that specifies your desired outcome with variables that impact the outcome (people, processes, and product). People reinforce the process. Process reinforces the product. Product reinforces the people. The product may take the form of a policy, practice, SOP, training curriculum or some form of written guidance to organizational members.
2. We are all problem solvers!
Most organizations consciously or unconsciously use some version of a 5-step process:
1. Understand what is to be improved and set a goal.
2. Measure their current state.
3. Apply conventional wisdom or gut theory.
4. Take action.
5. Measure to verify improvement has taken place.
3. What is a fact-based method to problem solving?
Because resources are limited in most organizations, the ability to implement actions based on 100 hunches is highly inefficient. Discovering the "root cause" is at the core of structured problem solving. The requirement for proof of cause and effect before action is taken ensures your solution will have the desired impact. The REVIS structured problem-solving approach is an objective fact-based methodology inspired by Six Sigma. Structured problem solving involves rigorous logic and disciplined methods.
4. Can I teach an old dog new tricks?
Given the proper reward and recognition methods, human behavior can be shaped. Select a small pilot team for a stretch assignment to become trained as internal practitioners of these methods. This will serve to motivate and engage the team members. The caution is that you will need to identify a high-level leader as sponsor of the initiative to remove roadblocks and obstacles. It will set your team on a path of a common structured problem-solving methods where all team members talk-the-talk. Start with a small project to sharpen the new skills and gain success.
5. What's In It For Me (WIIFM)?
For the business, using the rule of thumb "savings-to-costs ratio 2:1" is compelling. For every dollar you invest in training your team you can expect a positive ROI. For the individuals, they will join the ranks of global continuous improvement practitioners who contribute to best-in-class organizations and become the "go-to" people to work on high visibility projects. You will also find increased internal/external customer satisfaction with your product. The principles within this methodology can scale to small departmental problems or large global projects.
6. The best path to get solutions is never a straight line!
While the formal organizational chart may appear to be a straight line of accountability, organizations are made up of people that are informal, complex systems with varying levels of receptivity to changes in their daily work. We have resisters, early adopters, influencers, gatekeepers, and implementers. People are part of your system that requires you to know how processes flow and where inter-dependencies on each other exist to produce a desired outcome. By understanding your people and processes you will have good insight on who to engage and involve in your problem-solving activity.
7. Remote management by the seat of my pants?
Most organizations have tribal knowledge owned and disseminated by those select few who possess the history or knowledge of successful processes and procedures. But has the best practice within the organization been reduced to writing? Ideally, bring those SME's together to participate in writing the plan, get all the details and strengthen their engagement. Because employees are now working remotely on a broad range of timelines, access to written guidance becomes even more critical. This gives your team a better chance of repeating successes and avoiding delays.
8. Change is hard!
Few, if any, process and procedure improvement solutions come without some level of change. Don’t underestimate the power of resistance, this is emotional! Leaving the old methods creates uncertainty, anger, and skepticism. Finding your way forward can be successfully navigated if your messaging and practices includes linear steps that include creating awareness to why the change is needed, promoting desire in persons to engage and participate, providing new knowledge/skills, creating opportunities to use new abilities, and reinforcing through rewards and recognition.
1. Six Sigma Daily. The Six Sigma Fundamentals: What is DMAIC?. Retrieved 22 February 2021, from https://www.sixsigmadaily.com/six-sigma-fundamentals-dmaic/
2. Prosci Inc. (n.d.-b). ADKAR Change Management Model Overview | Prosci. Retrieved February 21, 2021, from https://www.prosci.com/adkar/adkar-model
3. The impact of Six Sigma. (n.d.). Professional Builder. Retrieved February 21, 2021, from https://www.probuilder.com/blog/impact-six-sigma