Tool #6: Decide on the Destination before Mapping the Journey

WalterPopperYou’ve been asked to lead a process improvement project and you’re not sure what’s expected. And that’s a risk. Just ask Lewis Carroll:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cheshire Cat.

What’s your destination supposed to be? Some say ‘improve’, others ‘streamline’, others ‘transform’. But everyone agrees customers are complaining, front-line teams are frustrated, and IT doesn’t know how to configure the systems. Senior leaders know the process is broken and believe there must be a better way to do business. They just don’t know exactly what it will be.

You’ve read Hammer’s book on business process design, Faster, Cheaper, Better. You’ve been to Hammer methodology courses:

  • The Power of Process challenged you to step back, see the big picture, develop a compelling case for action, strategize top team buy-in, and go the distance
  • Process Owners in Action clarified the role, structured decision rights and governance, showed how to build clout and develop influence strategies
  • Process Redesign gave you Hammer’s methodology, beginning with mobilization and ending with adoption and business outcomes

Now you need to choose an approach. It’s a classic moment of truth. If there’s no great urgency, you could settle for minor changes and improved compliance, the long, slow road to results. But if financial pressures are growing and customer relationships are at risk, you’ll more likely go for fundamental redesign. And that will mean questioning everything – workflow, staffing, organization, IT systems, locations – even legacy culture.

How will you know which approach to choose? You’ll your homework:

  • Examine the data: Big performance gaps point to redesign.
  • Assess risks of inaction: Customer, product or financial exposure? Redesign!
  • Scan the environment: Threat of disruption? Choose redesign.
  • Engage decision makers: You need a committed leader for redesign.
  • Look in the mirror: If you’re all-in and have a great team, go with redesign.

Based on the evidence, you’ll make your choice. If you commit to redesign, the transformation will have begun. And you’ll need a roadmap:

  • Phased sequence of activities from mobilization through implementation
  • Project work streams running in parallel across phases
  • Critical path events including concept, lab, pilot, and investment decisions
  • Stakeholder information, engagement, and feedback campaign
  • Value realization plan for each solution, in each market

With a comprehensive roadmap, you will get all players operating in synch. Without one, your campaign will deteriorate into ad hoc activities at best and organizational chaos at worst.

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