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.

how-to-use-your-process-map-to-direct-change

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 !

blue-paw-print

 

The value of the process map during growth

A period of growth can be exciting and motivating, it can be a challenge but equally it can be a risk. If growth is to be sustained it has to be planned for and financed, under investment is a common failure which means building less capacity than is needed to serve the customers rising demand. This is the same with your business systems and processes, what might cope now will almost definitely need to be adapted for the future to mitigate risks. Technology is also accelerating the pace of business, there are so many routes to the customer now and every contact you have needs to reflect your brand and values. How do you ensure that this customer experience is controlled and every member of your team embraces it. When you allow your company to be under strain you put stress onto everyone involved, the chances of them being present and engaged to deliver this customer experience reduce. So how do we stop the decline and plan for our successful and sustainable growth?

Every turning Point or Revolution needs a starting point, I believe a process map is the answer.  There are many reasons for this but the visual representation of the business says more than words. It allows everyone to see the bigger picture and get that light bulb moment, following the road to customer satisfaction. People will start to recognise the business journey and want to improve it, find the best route.

Improving information and data flow through the business will also have a vast impact. As I mentioned above within the world of technology and connectivity there opens up more and more options available to streamline business operations.

As business owners you need to take a step back and design your business for future growth.  Make sure you look at every aspect of your business process leave nothing out and no stone unturned.  Find your purpose and what you want to achieve,  then think about what day to day decisions you need to make to achieve this. Analyse the steps you take to deliver your goal and map it out, flow charts are very beneficial but you can start with a list of activities. Now you have your status quo recorded and can plan your new improved system.

Ensure you involve your whole team in this exercise and when you have finished you can talk about improvement projects to design the best way to accomplish each step with the people that matter most – your team. When you find the most efficient and effective way to accomplish your goals I would suggest  where possible you automate; take out as much human error risks as possible.

 One word of caution:

I see so many problems because companies have bought different software packages and apps to help them do jobs quicker then find – They don’t communicate. This leaves a very disjointed system that can lead to major issues and errors when the company grows. If you plan to use software packages do so with a holistic approach, consider the bigger picture and ensure that they talk to one another. They need to be able to grow with you, don’t put in manual data entry or transfer if it will not be sustainable when the company ends up 2, 4 or even 10 times it’s current size.

 

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!

What’s your golden ticket for 2016?

What’s your golden ticket for 2016?

Well I hope it’s a Happy New Year for everyone I have certainly been focusing hard on my plans for this year how have you been doing? Just before Christmas I gave you some food for thought and tips on key elements to improve for success. Well after some interesting networking conversations to start off the year I feel I need to ask the question “Do you really know what ISO9001 is and the principles that drive it?”

You may not need to go for ISO9001 accreditation but I feel everyone should at least familiarise themselves with the key principles of this successful management system. The standard has been used over and over and it works for improving businesses, so why ignore this golden ticket to your business improvement? Setting up a robust business process I feel is key to sustainable growth it is not restrictive to innovation; you become consistent, efficient and much more capable of delivering right first time. Without first defining your business system you face growing with out purpose, things grow organically. As you grow and more people become involved in doing similar work they each do it their own way, inconsistencies and duplication creep in. Your customer doesn’t just need that wow factor on one visit from one exceptional staff member; they need it every time in each interaction and all members of staff. Happy loyal customers mean repeat business and referrals which go straight to the bottom line. So what are these principles?

The ISO9001 standard was founded on 8 principles as follows:-

  1. Customer focused organisation – What are you going to do differently in 2016 to listen to your customers? Do you understand why your loyal customers are loyal? Have you asked the customers you lost what happened? Gain a better understanding of who all of your interested parties are and how they perceive you.
  2. Leadership – Do you lead by example and follow your system? If you do not follow the rules how can you expect your staff to. Do you have a story? 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.
  3. Involvement of people – How are you going to build on your teams this year? Are your staff going to be talking about being part of something bigger and sharing a vision?
  4. Process Approach – Are you going to finally get around to improving the way you do things and questioning the norm? Is your business process clear and run itself?
  5. Systems approach to management –  Is your dream to have more time or to get that work life balance? If so systems allow your business to run without you, how are you at working on your business for 2016? Systems management is about understanding the holistic approach and seeing the interrelationships between the processes that can create harmony.
  6. Continuous Improvement – Do you encourage your people to question the norm, and suggest improvements? Do you ever thank and feedback the results for their effort? When you make changes for 2016 look at whole not individual problems. Use proven tools & techniques to analyse and assess the impact of the change before you role it out. Give yourself a greater chance of success and involve others on the journey.
  7. A factual approach to decision making – The more you measure and test your processes and system the better your decision making gets. Your changes are based on fact taking the guess work out of running the business.
  8. Mutually beneficial Supplier Relationships – How is your supply chain looking for 2016? Look at you communication channels are you giving the right information to allow things to happen smoothly? Take action to de-risk your supply chain where it has a direct impact on the quality of your service/product and your customer.

This may be a bit of a whirlwind tour but I hope that this has given you an insight into the thinking behind the standard. Think about how you can use these principles in 2016 to make a difference in your business world. For those of you that have the new ISO9001:2015 take time out to read the bit everyone skips over, ‘the introduction’, you will be amazed at the little gems of information that are contained here.

My challenge to you for 2016 is why not benchmark your company against ISO9001 and get a bespoke action plan? You can call me direct on 07745 482426.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you every success with your plans for 2016.

Business people celebration