Thursday, April 4, 2013

Process Creation Is A Big Project

We all have had the feeling, as leaders, that something just wasn't quite right in our departments. Whether work flow isn't flowing as it usually does, or people in the department aren't in sync with each other, or the day and all its participants are tripping over one another. The leader knows that new processes are necessary to regain that departmental edge. If done properly these new procedures may even increase employee morale. Process creation is a necessary part of doing business but it goes much deeper than sitting down with Visio and creating a process flowchart and then communicating it to our teams. Lets take a look.

Process Chart Needed
It is true that we need to put our initial ideas on paper. We as leaders need to create a process flowchart that illustrates each step in our process. We need to make sure all variation that can create process chaos is accounted for. This is a time consuming exercise that can be rewarding and inclusive if due diligence is spent on its creation. There is nothing like creating a process, receiving group participation from a department, and then getting buy in and approval by the executives in an organization. A sense of accomplishment is felt once a date to start the process is agreed upon. Finished! Let the work flow properly and the department function like a well oiled machine, right? Not quite.

Changes Made
Its uncanny a new process is created and during this transformation outside departments communicate that no changes are expected. Except when a change of some sort arises. Equipment breaks down, attrition to a key player occurs, or a new vision comes down from the CEO which can alter any plan. This is where process creation can become time consuming. I can't tell you the amount of times I've heard a leader mention that they love a new process but that it may change because of organizational alterations. Leaders should be conservative in putting new processes into play. Research needs to be completed, meetings need to take place with any employee capable of derailing the best plans, and contingency processes needs to be developed to adjust to unexpected variation. Taking this precaution can add to a leaders credibility.

Conflict Arises
Creating processes can cause conflict at times. We need to face the reality that creating new processes may cause conflict over the resources needed. It may cause competition. A really good process may get noticed and that leader to receive recognition or a promotion. This is great news except for the leaders competing for praise and increased responsibilities. Many times leaders put a process in place, it works until conflict is born, and it is ignored. The conflict needs to be addressed so the process can flourish. Having the attitude that everything will work itself out is counterproductive.

Thoughts about Processes
Once a process is created try some of these things to keep them relevant
    •  Get participation from outside departments that will be affected by the new process. This will help avoid conflict and make others feel like they own the process rather than having it force fed to them.
    • Have a process contingency plan. Flexible processes have a longer life span than some rigid processes. Being open minded to unexpected change will make the process stronger and creative.
    • Put an expiration date on the process. Like dairy products processes have an expected life span. Define that date. Set up meetings to review departmental processes to see if they are relevant or if new ones need to be created.
Creating processes can be a creative, energetic time that gives multiple people a chance to be noticed. Leaders should spend the necessary time on this project to avoid unexpected pitfalls which can sour the whole experience.


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