If an integrator is engaging in an activity on a daily basis, people need to know why.
Everyone should understand why processes are in place.
Mature companies document and improve their processes incrementally — in a nonjudgmental fashion — attempting to remove waste, variation, or steps that don’t add value. They don’t throw everything away and start over, blaming everyone who was ever involved in creating the process. That would be a recipe for disaster.
Here is an example where the participants have little understanding of the purpose of their processes, but are caught continuously repeating old habits:
It is a typical family holiday, and two children watch their mother prepare a ham. Their mother gets the ham out of the refrigerator, puts it on a cutting board, cuts off both ends, and then puts the ham in a pan and into the oven.
“Why do you cut off both ends of the ham?” the children ask.
“That’s just the way we cook our holiday ham,” the mother replies.
“Let’s ask Grandma, she taught me,” the mother says. “She’ll know why.”
When their grandmother arrives, the children ask, “Grandma, how do you cook a holiday ham?”
Their grandmother answers, “You cut off both ends, put it in a pan, and then put it in the oven.”
“That’s the way we cook holiday ham,” their grandmother replies.
“Let’s ask Great Grandma, she taught me,” their grandmother replies, “She’ll know why.”
When their great grandmother arrives for the holiday dinner, everyone sits around the table to enjoy the ham. The children wait until she is taking a bite to ask, “Great Grandma, why do you cut both ends off the ham before you cook it?”
Great Grandma smiles and answers, “Well, children, because the pan is too small.”
And so it is with many integrators.
A process is put in place by one employee (often a founding member of the organization), followed by other employees and more employees after that, until the reasoning behind the process is lost and, often, any understanding of the value is also lost.
Other non-value-adding processes spring up around these long-standing processes, compounding the amount of inefficiency and waste in the organization.
It is incumbent upon a mature organization to periodically and objectively look at how people are doing what they are doing – which doesn’t mean judgmentally or robotically. Then align it with why they’re doing what they’re doing.
Taking simple steps, we have seen organizations dramatically increase their efficiency, boost profits, and reduce waste.
Creating efficiencies through process standardization and improvement also helps cut down occurrences of reactive drama or crisis modes and fosters greater commitment among all the organization’s employees because they feel responsible for improving how things work. They understand the linkage between cause and effect.
This article comes from our partners at Navigate Management Consulting, and has been republished with their express permission.
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