#2 – The power of collective process optimizing

When optimizing a process, you want to get the right input from process stakeholders, as I explained in the first part of this blog series. And, of course, the proper people buy-in after optimizing (hacking) it. In this blog, let me show you another angle of view on how to hack your organization’s process in an Agile way, using Process Hack.

The common habit in many organizations used to be the one-way changing direction.

What do I mean by that?

In the past, the usual approach was that a process leader or the process owner simply viewed the process and then wrote down some changes. Then the process stakeholders just had to follow his or her directions. But moreover, those could only be assumptions and not real issues or solutions. Because from experience with numerous clients, I can firmly claim that I do not know one single process owner who would in 100% understand what is going on in the process, even if you have a process chart nicely drawn because that is merely impossible. Meaning, people always seek ways to prevent specific process steps that do not positively impact their work.

The other approach in the past was that a consultant was hired for process optimization and did numerous interviews with employees involved in the respected process. Then, he/she drafted a recommendation report on how the employees could improve the process. After, the process owner was left up to persuade coworkers to start implementing recommendations. The problem was that people were reluctant to change due to recommendations not being beneficial to their work or due to the lack of understanding of their importance within a big picture. But those recommendations could also not be advantageous to all stakeholders at all. In some cases, partial interviews with individuals do not give us an accurate, holistic picture of how the process works. That is why we need to work and define challenges and solutions with selected process stakeholders collectively, in one room (or in one zoom session) at the same time. 

Process Optimization Collective Process Optimizing

In Process Hack, stakeholders work together to visualize the process collectively.

By defining challenges, they collectively decide upon solutions that are beneficial not only for themselves but also for the process.

So, in Process Hack, we: 

  • Start with why: take a look at the existing process and say, “OK, why are we changing it, why do we want to have a different process, what is the purpose of optimization?”
  • Define a vision, a goal: what would you like the new process to have an impact on, what should be the goal, what are you hoping or striving to solve.
  • Visualize the existing process with the team. As a Process Hack Facilitator, you first need a long whiteboard or table with a paper roll. Then, let the team start drawing the process. Forget the organizational charts for a moment and let people explain what the process is all about. For that, you need to collect employees from various sectors that operate in this process together, on a day-to-day basis. Many process owners are often surprised or shocked at this point, hearing about how different people might work from what is written in the organizational chart.

Seek solutions that are the best fit for the majority of the process stakeholders. For instance, a new approach for one challenge might not be the best fit as the process goes throughout, and as somewhere in the middle, a solution might cause more problems for the following phases of the process. Hence, the team must agree on a solution with minimum negative impacts for the next process steps.

Stay tuned as we will share the next steps on how to get buy-in from all the employees, that are involved in a process you want to optimize. As you just read, it is the power of collective process optimizing that makes the difference. Until then, you can check out a blog post from Daniela Bervar Kotolenko, the founder and driver of Process Hack: Why is Process Hack the next big thing.