How to use your process map to direct change?

Your process choice

How to use your process map to direct change?

A great start to either setting up a business or taking stock of where you are and where you need to be is a process map of what you want your business to look like. Starting with the end in mind as Stephen Covey said.

When you embark on this exercise you need to be able to close your eyes, use your imagination and see what your business is going to be like. Get yourself in the mindset of the end result business owner. Drawing up an organisational chart is an useful thing to do, even if you have to put you in every position at the moment, gradually you will follow the vision and replace yourself with others. Design your business the way you want it to run, one the risks of not doing this are the business grows organically. As you take on others they invent the roles as they go, each helping the best they can to shape the company following your lead. The result: A process that was not designed in the most optimum way to achieve your goal, worst case scenario you fall out of love with the business because it is not all you dreamt it would be.

With an established business there are two phases to process mapping:

  1. We have to map out where we are, document the status quo. This helps us see the big picture, identify risks and gaps within what we do; it also shows us improvements that can be made.
  2. What do we want our business to look like, if we could streamline, automate and have everything the way we plan how different would the picture be.

When we get stuck and need to move forward with our businesses we sometimes hit overwhelm, it can be easier to take no action because we don’t know where to start. There may even be a new picture and vision to follow which can be daunting. Perhaps you are at the stage where you need to take a growth step and employ or perhaps your outlook for the future has changed in what you want. Creating a picture of your business can make things much easier to understand, reasons for change become obvious. The process map then becomes a catalyst for instigating the desire for change within your team.

Try and picture each part of your process as a series of steps and each one needs to be defined. I want you to imagine the process as a series of customer-supplier relationships in a chain.

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When we set the right boundaries, expectations and requirements at each stage we will have happy customers throughout the company. This is what I call creating harmony in the workplace. Taking things step by step will enable you to understand the most complex of processes, and with your map you will be able to keep the big picture in mind.

So what now?

A client recently said to me about their newly designed streamlined process “I love it but I’m not sure what to do with it, put it up on the wall?” This is a phrase that I am hearing a lot of at the moment thank you so much but what next? It is good to have a passion for where you are taking your business but it has to be a catalyst in creating the next phase – the change process. The problem I have recognised is that a complete map can give you so much detail that it can put you into overwhelm, so much that you can’t see which step to do first. Here are my tips for approaching the next step to process improvement.

Create the buzz – Be prepared to share and listen

Share your vision, get people excited about what you are trying to do (Put your map on the wall)! Involve them in discussions, ask their opinion. This may sound obvious but there are many businesses I talk to where it is not their first thought to involve team right down to the front line.

Look at the framework

Make sure you revisit your values and vision together, are they complementary? Is everything you want to do in tune with your core beliefs and purpose? I often say that one of  most important questions after ‘what is your why?’ is ‘what are the the day to day decisions that have to be made to achieve your goal?’ If you want your team to make great decisions they have to understand this direction & purpose.

Communicate and listen

Once you are crystal clear on your objectives they need to be communicated. I don’t mean a poster on the wall, live and breath them, lead by example and get your team on board.

If you believe in your purpose with a passion, and tell your story to others, then your team around you will start to live and recall that story. Make sure all of this is communicated to the outside world too, your customers need to know your story. It’s is the same with driving changes within the company. When you are transparent and honest in what you do, listen to others opinion and explain why; you will get a much more favourable response.

Not many people like change, even less when they don’t know what is going to happen. Fear will set in and they will make up a story where there is none. We need to cut cost, jobs will be lost, the company’s in trouble; you know the drill we have all heard this type of gossip. Don’t let this happen to you, nurture open communication.

Plan for change

From your process maps you will have areas that need to change and new systems that could be significantly different to what people are used to. These changes need to be carefully planned and prioritised being conscious of the time and resources needed. You are not going to get the support and engagement from your team if you start putting them under too much stress, and likewise for yourself when you take on too much.

Itemise the areas in your process where you have found risks, gaps, duplication of tasks, inefficiency or possible automation. Your can always add to this list as you find other things on your process map. If you have taken your map to the next level and rewritten a streamlined version a lot of this will be covered in the report you receive.

This list can be split up into areas to help with project planning, for example the Sales Process, Finance and accounting, Operations or handling customer concerns and improvements.

I use my own tool (based  upon tools tool like PFMEA and risk analysis), It will enable you to think about the individual improvements and their impact on the business. The list of actions get rated or scored on impact, resources, investment and timescale, the result is a prioritised list based on fact. I am happy to provide a template and work through a prioritised action plan with you.

Don’t set yourself up to fail! Plan change step by step and include some quick wins to boost morale. It’s all about the strategy and the team.

Make sure the time and resources are planned BEFORE you execute your plan; there is nothing worse than having a team fired up and innovation stifled because they cannot access what they need to succeed.

Communicate your strategy for change

Let people know the big plan, the game changer! You want people to be excited about the end result and be part of it. You can choose champions for the projects and channels for the feedback such as boards, internal comms or social media. You need a platform that can be used to celebrate the success stories and the challenges ahead. If you are open about the choices you make, even if you make wrong decisions, being honest  will gain you support. Not everything will run perfectly, you are human after all; what defines us is how we rise after a fall. Learn from everything and turn it into an opportunity for improvement!

Take action

Now for the important bit, once you have a strategy for change you need to start taking action. If you are redesigning part of your process ensure you consider the big picture and links on the process map. Be mindful of the impact your changes can have on other areas of the process, the company goal and customer experience. Always follow the discipline of root cause analysis, prove your chosen solution, test and install. The success of your plan is down to you taking responsibility and action – if it is something you are excited about it should be infectious!

Celebrate achievements & milestones

One last thing – feedback and celebration. Change isn’t an easy path so don’t forget to stop and give yourself a pat on the back, when you do your business planning in fact write down the reward you are going to give yourself and your team for each milestone and do it!. Have fun and celebrate in style.

Also if you are doing great things talk about them, quite often there is work going on with the community and charity that don’t ever get mentioned, (I was guilty of this in the being).

Embed the change, support the transition

When you make changes do not overwhelm and change to much at the same time. Make sure people are comfortable with things before you move on. Your leadership, support and understanding at this stage will be critical to the success of the project. If you want a fun exercise to demonstrate what happens in change and where and why support is needed message me and I’ll send it to you; it will help others understand what is happening within the struggle for change.

A final word

Systems is not all about logic and sequence it is about people working together in harmony to achieve a goal. The thing is people are not always logical they have things like emotion and baggage. Then there is a thing called organisational climate, we all have our own take on what culture is ‘the way things are done around here’. Well climate embraces everything culture, leadership style, processes and how the interact with each other – the point is that all these things have a major impact on how people behave under different circumstances. Put people and process together,  communication and knowledge is key, I encourage you to think about your company as a learning organisation, become dynamic and fluid. Be flexible and don’t restrict yourself by what others believe. I know with the right direction, guidance and support you will always get where you need to be.

Have fun, you know who to ask if you get stuck !

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Get Visual

As I take the journey through re-vamping my systems, webs, literature and first impressions to the customer I would like to share my thoughts on being visual.

Starting with your Unique vision

We get an idea for a business, we daydream, we make it happen but it mustn’t stop there. For the first time this year I did a vision board. I have been on quite a journey of learning and one of the key factors in my success so far has been understanding the law of attraction. Learning to take your focus off the negative aspects and turn my attention to what I desire in my personal and business life. Put simply if you focus on lack of customers or money guess what the law of attraction brings? Yep, you’ve got it, more of the same! So if we don’t develop our visions and adapt them how do we progress along our journey? My advice here is to start mapping out in your mind the long term strategy and vision, even visualise milestones, winning awards or contracts. What ever is significant in your business see it and sense it in your mind down to the last detail, what will you be wearing and who will be with you? When you start to see things in this much detail it is easier to become that person and achieve the right mindset. Mindset is another key element; for example if you want to be a million pound business you first need to become and make decisions as a million pound business owner, being able to actually see yourself already there will make the journey easier.

Moving this vision to your team.

When you tell your story to others they will engage with your story and relate to it, and the same is true in business. So what if we add powerful images to this story, how much more compelling does it become then? I recently met an artist who made me think, she had worked with a company on their core values. The staff had been allowed to create paintings of how they thought their values would look as images e.g. trust & integrity. These images have been put onto literature with the values and are carried around in handy sized credit card sized leaflets by all staff. Now employees can relate to their paintings and the values taking ownership of what they have created together. I loved this and think it is so important to use photos and images to capture the aspirations and goals of the company. Even more to get everyone from the bottom up to contribute and understand their part in the journey and ongoing story.

Explaining to your customers.

Nearly all business owners I have spoken to have said what a different using videos or re-branding their business with new graphics has made. We need to show our customers what we do not just tell them. Statistics show that we only have a limited number of seconds to make an impression so images really count. They don’t stop to read, may not feel like pressing play on that video today but they have already seen the image you put there. My journey is looking at images that portray what I do, which can sometimes be very technical. My aim is to show a solution to a customer problem in as little words as possible. This is not an easy job and I would recommend the help of an expert but I hope to share my ongoing story and show what a difference it can make.

Within the business structure

My business revolves around creating good business systems and adding value by giving structure and stability to the company growth. I love flowcharts, sad some may say but a great tool nonetheless. The use of images and diagrams for education and training has been proven so why not find something that gives instruction step by step. A flowchart also allows you to see who your internal customers and suppliers are to help you understand what and why you do what you do. Having critical success factors within these processes give clear measurables, enabling the team to instantly see where they are successful in delivering the needs of the next step in the process. A good idea is to also look at the risks associated with each process as well as understanding the overall business risks. That way the team fully understand the controls in place and the consequences of not adhering to the system.

I digress when I talk systems but flowcharts and process maps are my thing! Let’s also not forget about the power of using pictures to engage, learn and train. Graphics on why things matter, training simulation, video tutorials are crucial as we all learn in different ways. If you eliminate the visual, chances are you eliminate a proportion of your workforce that learn in that way. I prefer visual flowcharts but I do not eliminate detail altogether. When you hover over a step in one of my flowcharts there is a link to written work or form examples or check lists; it’s all about layers and those who need to dig deeper into detail can and will. Phonographics are another great tool as they show a number of complex steps in a simple visual form. i am looking at working in partnership with a new company and the first thing we are working on is an info-graphic to describe the benefit to the customer of our joint approach. Can’t wait to share this with you shortly.

A word of warning

What ever you do; do it consistently. Quality and consistency are key to growing your brand.

With your website is hard to find your space within the noise that is the internet. Good strategy, planning & persistence will get you there; being consistent with timing and content will raise your chances of staying there.

I am no expert but I know the feeling I get every time I decide to draw something or illustrate the subject matter; when eyes light up and they say “I get it now”.

I would love to hear your stories so do get in touch, it is great to bounce ideas from one another and see the innovation that comes out of these conversations.

 

 

 

 

Achieving work life balance needs a system!

You will often hear me talk now about creating harmony in the workplace, true harmony is when all of your processes interact with each other seamlessly to achieve a common goal. Sounds easy enough until you put people, external factors and risks/opportunities into the mix. So how am I helping with work life balance? I will enlighten you. To me ‘systems thinking’ is all about being able to understand the whole or the bigger picture. We need to put this deeper understanding into practice as we manage our day to day activities and changes that are occurring in our businesses. Do you feel that you have adequate time to do your job well and spend Quality time away from work? If the answer is no then Why? Maybe you are so consumed by what you do that the answer will not come without refocusing.

Some of us spend far too much time either fire fighting to survive or having conversations with ourselves over situations. Having precious little time and fighting the internal dialogues of our mind does not lead to us enjoying a healthy relationship with the business and a good work life balance. These are my tips to take you from surviving to thriving.

  • Take time out to relax and refocus, spend time on the business.
  • Look after you – if you are not in good health you won’t be in the right place to move forward.
  • Understand your business process, what is it that you exist to do?
  • Realise why systems are so important to creating sustainable growth.
  • Walk your process and start mapping out your business, design the way you want it to run and look like.
  • Implement systems that work for your business and your staff – involve everyone. (No forced templates)
  • Understand the risks and controls in your business, what is actually affecting your ability to deliver?
  • Prioritise – take things one step at a time – work on the things that are going to make the biggest impact to your customers and bottom line first.
  • Automate when you are able but only after you have defined the process first. For example your CRM system is not your process it is only a tool to help automate part of the Sales process.

If you need a gentle introduction to all of this then check out our new course and give yourself a different perspective on systems.

Have a great day!

Food for thought over Christmas

On the run up to Christmas you will be seeing many articles on what changes you should be making for the New Year. “What will you be doing to make a difference in 2016”, they ask. They are many good ideas and areas to focus on to improve, but whether it is your numbers, marketing or operations your people will be the key to success.

Your focus on your staff as the core of the changes is fundamental to the success of the improvement. Yes you need to look at the impact of any changes you make to ensure you address all possible risks but the new thinking required by employees does not happen on it’s own.

Having a fantastic business process is very important and should be celebrated but put it into the wrong environment and culture and it will not become the norm. Ask yourself this question about procedures you have put in place in your organisation. Is there anyone that repeatedly tries to cut out certain things, bypass your system? Have you asked the question why? Did you encourage your front line staff to help you write the procedure so that you can understand what life is like there?

Over the coming month of January my blogs are going to explore this more as it links to a lot of the areas covered by the new ISO9001:2015 standard. I want companies to understand the difference between instigating change within their company and building in fundamental lasting changes that will have an impact on their business.

Below I share my tips on key things to think about to nurture your culture and prepare for the changes ahead in 2016, these are not in order of importance just food for thought over the Christmas period..

  • Processes and systems – Have systems that are well written and effective. if there is a problem focus on the system first not who to blame, blame cultures destroy innovations and improvement.

  • Leadership and vision –  Knowing the why behind your business enables you to engage people with your story. True followers of a leader want to be inspired and the art is to help them develop their own dreams for their lives both work and at home. Lead by example and adhere to your systems; otherwise how can you expect anyone else to value what you say if you are not committed yourself. Systems also allow you to add the degree of control needed and put the boundaries in place to enable you to lead and manage the business.

  • Listen – Listen to your customers, listen to your staff and all interested parties that may have a direct impact in you being able to fulfil your purpose for the business. Do you actually know what your customers perception of you is? What do your staff say about you and the company?

  • Knowledge – Build a knowledge hub, encourage the sharing of information to remove the knowledge is power culture. Understand and build on the competencies of your people, make sure it links to the risks affecting your business. Ensure that your staff have the right knowledge to do their jobs, the most willing individual cannot perform if they do not have access to the correct information this is my next point.

  • Fact based decision making – You’re probably collect a lot of data without even knowing it, or maybe you do but it’s not not in an easy format to report from. Take away assumptions and start basing your decisions and fact, know your numbers and analyse for your Key Performance indicators.

  • Be SMART with your actions – Always link objectives to your why and make sure they are SMART, clear actions are the only way to achieve what you want and enable others to help you get there.

  • Values – We all have values we hold with high importance, make sure this is reflected in your business and maintain that integrity. Define your values for others and recruit on this basis to maintain your culture. If you have someone poisoning the culture it is far better to lose them however much knowledge they hold. The most efficient working team environment is one that is happy, fulfilled and dedicated to it’s purpose.

The important thing to remember is the clear line of sight between your vision and why to all of the above. Make sure there is reason and understanding behind what you do and communicate this in a way that your staff can understand and delivery on..

To all my friends, colleagues and customers have a very merry Christmas and I hope all your dreams for 2016 come true.

Merry Christmas to all

Merry Christmas to all