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04 February, 2013 Service Management

Processes don’t happen by themselves

How do you make processes work? so that you can achieve success and consistent quality of service?

Two recent client experiences brought home a simple and classic point to me recently – one organisation with good intentions to improve but no idea how to make it happen, and another who have made quality and consistency happen via positive culture.

Organisation #1 had a number of good people and a great sense of desire to improve service, however, the people who were in positions to do something about this – bring people together, instill some clear direction and discipline into delivery, and communicate the value and benefits of doing this – had no idea how to do this.

Step 1 for me was to make them aware of these requirements and then step 2 was that they had to make them happen..!  Implicit in the thinking of these guys was simply that processes and best practice would deliver – IE by simply defining a process this would change everything – which of course is absolutely not the case.

Organisation #2 on the other hand had worked hard to develop a positive and open management culture – with strong leadership and clear direction. The culture in this company is tangible and leads staff to take a self-critical view of themselves and their operation – for continual improvement yes, but also it makes processes happen simply because people buy into them.

There was no sub-culture of  ‘how we’ve always really done things and so we won’t change’, If there is a change of practice then people follow this positively and constructively because its probably been discussed with them and not forced upon them – and they also have faith in the approach and need to do things consistently and well as a   whole.

‘Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner…‘ – is one of my favourite quotes and it is a simple reference to the fact that we can plan and document and do lots of stuff and try to push it out into our organisations. But it will not stand a snowball in hell’s chance of working unless we also tackle culture, people, and governance.

People often say ‘ that meal’s not going to cook itself’ – we have the ingredients and the recipe, but we still need to actually carry out the task of cooking it…

Similarly, we can say  ‘processes just don’t happen by themselves’. So you need to think about how to get people to follow them as much as what is in them.

Actually, unlike meals,  processes do happen by themselves of course – but unless you have taken care of the culture, they won’t happen the way you (and your organisation) need them to work for business success…

So what do you think..?