Daniela Bervar Kotolenko, MBA, Senior partner, consultant and trainer at CorpoHub

I strongly believe that business processes are almost entirely about people. One can not transform or optimize a process without being aware that all processes are very alive: meaning that they are not some fixed things, that cannot be changed over a period of time. I believe that every process is a sum of individuals included in activities of different business sectors, combined together to form a combination of roles, tasks and intertwined personal relations.

Let me put a metaphor to the explanation above: a business process is like a green garden. When you start growing a green garden, you put it together approximately like this: you have a salad lane, a tomato lane, a cucumber lane etc. and, in the beginning, everything is well organized. Then, over time, different kinds of weed starts to grow on it and you have to groom the garden, you have to clean it, according to different situations that are arising – just like in a business process. Of course, processes change when people change, when internal environment changes, when outside business environment changes. No business process stays fixed over time, despite its’ flow being exactly mapped down in a chart or having a precise process owner. As in a green garden, that weed starts to grow in some segments.

But what is actually “weed” in a business process? These are all the unnecessary work loads, duplicated work, misunderstandings that accumulate over time within a certain process. The surprising fact is that weed is not visible in any chart, nor is it in many cases even known to the process owner, due to people naturally abiding some process steps or rules due to (what is sometimes even a misperception) easier day to day work.

And what do you do? In order to minimise resistance to change, you would want to let the process executors (people) to clean and groom that process by themselves in order to become vital again and serve its purpose. Of course it won’t just happen by itself. You need external help. The reason for that is the general perception of employees, and that is: … we have worked in this way for a long time and it works somehow. Why change?

They say that despite being fully aware that there are many challenges and that the process could function much better. They just do not know exactly how and each individual insists in his/her own right.

The common mistake companies do is to let one person, usually the process owner or his-her manager to think about and impose a new process to employees. The result is usually resistance to change and in some cases even a worse process than it was before. Why? Because never one single person (or team leaders only) knows the process better as the cumulative of the workers that execute process activities on a daily basis.

What is Process Hack and how does it work?

Process Hack is a process transformation method I formed based on real business cases and hours spent with clients. It is now used at large by CorpoHub trainers for the purpose of bringing the in-depth understanding of all process stakeholders, especially individuals involved in this process on a daily basis.

The Process hack is a carefully facilitated session which includes:

  1. Preparation and Analysis
  2. Execution of the Process Hack
  3. Monitored follow up through External Accountability.

In Preparation and Analysis phase we start by analysing the assumption of what the process is all about – which sectors are included, which and how many people are included, how complex is the process … According to these analyses, basic target goals are formed and people – the representative individuals of different sectors – are invited to Process Hack session.

In the Execution of the Process Hack phase participants envision the process together, they draw it and systematically work on challenges and seek productive solutions to those challenges.

The secret to a successful Process Hack execution is in 75% a skilled facilitator with analytical competencies, appropriate business background and an ear for team psychology and interpersonal relationships. The remaining 25% are preparation and carefully selected participants.

At the end of the session a kanban with concrete solutions is formed (kanban – a simple chart with a big impact, consisting of to-do, doing and done tasks distribution overview). The team commits to concrete actions to be executed in the future.

process hack

How do you know that the process is actually getting transformed after the session?  

That is assured through the third step, the Monitored follow up through External Accountability. During Process Hack we measure time and resource savings. In one session, up to 25% of the entire process can be immediately transformed just by letting people get a common awareness of what is actually going on. Through many a-ha moments the process gets simplified almost instantly.

When the Process Hack session ends, we are far from done.

Usually it is up to 2 or 3 months after the session that teams need to regularly follow up on their kanbans and assignments that they have committed to. In order to assure that, we closely cooperate with pre-briefed process owners facilitating the working group in terms of introducing a servant leadership role to them and by applying agile working methods.

To sum up – there’s actually a lot more than just a magic wand to the Process Hack.

  1. Every process is about people. It is not a fixed, rather constantly changing organism, a cumulative of hands-on employees of (mostly various) sectors and their interests, challenges, obstacles, etc.
  2. Empathy, respect, recognition and a-ha moments that people share during the Process Hack session are very powerful. They enable them to better self-organize and to feel more committed to undergo process transformation.
  3. The transparency in Process Hack session brings greater awareness of one’s contribution and respect of each other’s work.
  4. Start transforming business processes today in your organisation by introducing Process Hack. Don’t play the role “I know it all”. Because every process can be hacked, since it is constantly developing and changing.

“The empathy, recognition and a-ha moments that people share during this process drawing are very powerful and enable the people to self organize and to actually feel committed to transforming the process even in the future.”        – Daniela Bervar Kotolenko, MBA, Senior partner, CorpoHub

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