Many years back, when I ran a web development shop, I once visited a customer who owned a flooring tiles manufacturing unit. Since they were one of the leading players in their industry, I was curious to see how they worked. Our customer took us to visit their manufacturing plant where I could “see” a number of interlinked processes in action when a piece of tile moved from one stage of production to another. The product was tangible and most of these processes were executed by sophisticated machines.
Many years later, I started working on business process improvement for an IT company. Things were getting done here as well, but processes were not “visible”. I could not see how knowledge about the product got transferred from one step to the another in the development process. Processes were not documented and different people understood the process differently. Since process was not visible, it was difficult to see the gaps and improve, unless the gaps were obvious and huge.
One of my key learning from this first experience was: If you have a process, make it visible.
You may be a business leader who is working on improving your processes, a project manager who wants to improve team’s outcomes or an individual who is looking forward to improving personal process, making the process visible is important.
How do you do that? Here are the most basic steps (and the ones that many small or mid-sized organizations ignore):
First step is to document the process. It could be a formal process manual or a simple bulleted list of steps to be performed. In any case, keep the process steps simple.
Better yet, represent the process visually through diagrams. This is the best way to show a process in action.
Once you have visibility, you will be able to see the gaps more effectively and see what can be improved.
Finally, share the process understanding via trainings, one to one facilitation and via tools that make it easier for people to access the process.
Whether your work is blogging, writing, graphics designing or software programming, you invariably have a formula, a method and a few steps to get the work done. You can only improve upon your work when patterns of your work are visible to you.
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Join in the conversation: What tools have you used to generate awareness (and visibility) of your processes? What process have you employed to ensure that your work patterns are visible to you?