Process Improvement – Breaking It Down To Bite Size Pieces
The idea of process improvement has always been one of those topics that sounds great, but how on earth do we accomplish it in an intelligent way? Will it work for any process in any business, or is it only designed for certain types of organizations? In the next few paragraphs I hope I can answer these questions and more.
If we start with the simple premise that any action we do can be broken down into a number of smaller and individual steps, it will help us pinpoint any movements we are doing incorrectly and then hopefully improve them. Just for instructional purposes only, let’s use a sports analogy to help us understand this concept.
If our intent is to help a batter improve their batting average we must first take a look at the entire process of how that player goes about batting the ball. That process will start with something as simple as putting on a batting glove, to the actual swinging of the bat. In this example the individual steps may be; what equipment including what size and type of bat they use, position of their hands on the bat, how they hold their bat and the position of it, position of their feet, weight distribution on front and back legs, etc. There are several more steps involved but this should give you an idea of the process we would go through.
So if you break down your process into several smaller ones, the next phase of any process improvement plan would be to determine which, if any, are being performed incorrectly or perhaps not necessary at all. By breaking them down it should be a lot easier for you to determine this. In our example of improving someone’s batting average we may see that their foot movement is wrong and can work to improve that. In the process we may often find that a necessary step is being left out, or on the other hand an unnecessary step has been added.
In many cases when we begin a process improvement project we come into it with some preconceived beliefs, which in short will spell disaster for the success of the process improvement plan. We must come into it with a blank slate by accepting the fact that any solution might be the right one. Just a quick reminder, Penicillin was discovered through a total accident. No ideas are bad!
Sometimes it might even be helpful if you have someone that has never seen the process before watch it being performed. As the process is taking place it can open everyone’s eyes if you try to explain it to them as it is taking place and why the process is designed the way it is. You would be surprised how many times the person watching will ask some pretty unknowingly good questions that will challenge the way you have been doing it for so long. I’m guessing you will either confirm that you are doing it right, or you will have some ah ha moments that will shock and surprise you.
Thank you and May God bless you!
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