As companies face the uncertainty of inflation and a looming recession, what would it mean if your company can annually reduce its operating costs 3 to 5%? A focused process and performance improvement initiative will deliver that level of savings and change your culture to reach higher levels of profitability for years to come.
A process and performance improvement effort does not just happen; it must be an integral component of your strategy with execution that refines your work processes. Four keys in making Process Improvement part of your organization’s DNA include:
- Engage the leadership – Top executives need to actively support process improvement. They should emphasize the importance of process in creating a culture of improvement and realizing the organization’s mission. To guarantee that people follow procedures throughout the organization, senior managers should develop governance and expectations to follow established processes so that any improvements can be made from a common baseline. Perhaps the most powerful demonstration is to lead by example and participate in process improvement activities whenever possible.
- Extend process ownership across teams – End-to-end procedures will involve several teams as the organization grows. Designate process owners and champions who will oversee formulating procedures and process objectives as well as tracking progress, removing roadblocks, and holding individuals and teams accountable. Those owners should establish the baseline process and then manage the changes as those baselines are improved.
- Create a central repository for process documentation – This should be available to all employees, be easily understood, and be regularly updated to reflect institutionalization of any improvement changes. Set the precedent that teams will cite this repository as the only reliable source of information.
- Build a culture that challenges the baseline – Give your employees the freedom to offer changes and raise questions rather than accepting the status quo. This will support an atmosphere that is open to innovation, growth, and progress. It is also important to establish a process to manage suggestions and any subsequent changes so that they become part of the new baseline way of doing things.
By utilizing this approach, you can instill a culture of improvement in your company in which teams actively participate in improvements and offer fresh approaches to problems ranging from product design to operational challenges. Process improvement will cease to be an afterthought and become a competitive advantage. Businesses that regard process improvement as a tool for innovation and growth, rather than a barrier or administrative burden, rapidly realize how processes can support business capabilities, which in turn support the daily execution of your plan and satisfy your customers.
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