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:
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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 !