Processes and Organizational Agility

January 19, 2017

 

Process, a collection of tasks which when combined in a particular way provide an output that is acceptable to the organization running the process. So why is this important in making your organization work? Much of the business world is presently focused on the new gadgets that improve our ability to execute processes. The question we should be asking is however it this process a good process in the first place??

 

The why and how questions are the questions answered by the many great companies and innovators of our time. Apple, does a phone really need to have buttons??? How do we actually use the phone and is that (buttons/physical dial-pad) really something critical??? The Answer the iPhone, and every major successful phone manufacturer has followed since. Tesla does an electric car have to be slow and cumbersome??? The answer the Tesla Roadster that opened the way to the Model S, X and 3. 

 

How does this even relate to processes? Well many organizations don't ask the why questions of a process even when its seems to no longer serve a real/viable purpose. So are we speaking about a full process re-engineering project, or process improvement? And, don't these things cost a lot of money ? 

 

Well yes and no, great, I did not really answer your question but lets put it this way. How well a process continues to perform is in the design of the process in the first place. A well designed process has a built-in means of review and update to meet the changing demands of an organization. So what or how is this done?

 

Processes should have several components that help validate the process existence and function. In the design of the process you should answer the why? Why does the process exist?(to meet a particular need) What is its goal?(to support the achievement of organizational goal 'X' by these specific means) So that takes care of the why. I now have a process that I can tie to specific goal of the organization or at the very least as a support to the achievement of a goal in a specific way. That deals with its existence. Now to deal with its function.

 

The function of a process must be evaluated against some criterion. So, how do I set up this criterion for measurement ? The criterion for measurement would be reliant on the purpose, 'the why' which we established earlier. There are 2 main components to the measurement of the process, internal and external. Lets deal with external first. Measurement of the achievement of the organizational goals and purpose. These components help determine if we are achieving the intended organizational goals for the process. The internal actually focus on the performance and viability of the process itself. Combined, these facilitate the measurement and opportunities for re-alignment of a process to the organization purpose and the optimization of the process itself.

 

Processes designed in this way facilitate the continual improvement of the organization's performance with reduced downtime for major overhauling of the processes within a organization. It carries with it the fringe benefit of internal processes that continually align with the organizational purpose and direction supporting an adaptive and flexible environment.

 

It is in the processes that the organization runs, the designs of these processes and the initial design flexibility that determine an organization's agility. 

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