Webinar: Process Innovation Capabilities

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 12:00 to 13:00

Avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins of Process Innovation

It’s a sad truth that big changes in the way that work is done, including process innovation projects, fail more often than not. Since the beginning of business reengineering, which was predicated on radical transformation of major, end-to-end processes, efforts have failed due to:

  1. Redesign Focus: Sin: Believing that a great process redesign that is faster, cheaper, and better will be adopted enthusiastically.  Reality: A great process design is insufficient to achieve implementation.  Cause: Reengineering came from engineers, and they tended to overlook the people side.  Implication: We must identify the surrounding conditions that are required to harmoniously align to achieve execution and results. We need to spend as much time on the people, purpose, power stuff as the process, platform stuff.
  2. Short-term Focus. Sin: Only seeing as far as achieving the big change fast -- a change initiative.  Reality: Sustaining the changes is important, not just the one-time results.  Cause: Short-term tenures of leaders in their positions.  Implication: Sustaining results should be extended to buy-in and institutionalizing process management at the enterprise level, having a fertile ground for those end-to-end process changes, which may mean having an institutional process governance structure long-term.
  3. Leadership Changes: Sin: Thinking that the current leader will be around for the long term. Reality: Leaders stay in their positions on average about 3 years. Cause: Assuming tomorrow will look like today.  Implication: Embed the innovation momentum broadly, and segregate and protect innovation funding.
  4. Strategic Irrelevance: Sin: Religious zealotry, thinking that the tool of process innovation is obviously good for all organizations in all situations. Reality: Process innovation is a tool; the value of a process innovation needs to fit with the strategy, e.g., operational excellence, customer intimacy, or product leadership. Cause: Value is different depending on our customer value proposition. Implication: Align the process innovation with the operating strategy.
  5. Pain of Disruption: Sin: Thinking that the benefits of a process innovation are obviously good for everybody, overlooking that key people who are impacted may be very comfortable with the status quo. Reality: The benefits need to be tailored to the audience. Cause: Overlooking that value is different in the eyes of the beholder. Implication: Get in the shoes of decision-makers to clearly describe “what’s in it for me”.
  6. Traditional Management Processes: Sin: Allowing traditional management processes to devalue a process innovation. Reality: Process innovation is a journey into unknown territory with unpredictable results, which will show badly using traditional resource allocation. Cause: Treating an innovation effort like outcomes are known and structured. Implication: Develop disciplines of experimentation, learning, and risk management.
  7. Traditional Mindsets: Sin: Ineffectively surfacing and addressing traditional mindsets, such as “work harder, not smarter”, functional optimization vs. process optimization, “processes constrain creativity”. Reality: Assumptions about management systems and what works are often unexamined. Cause: Lack of big picture and process thinking in the learning and background of most managers. Implication: Engage leaders in big picture, end-to-end thinking.

Process innovation is more important now than it has ever been.  Given the accelerated pace of organizations, many need to change from command-and-control to sense-and-respond, from operational excellence to product leadership, and from hierarchy to empowerment. The management systems of Google, Amazon, and 3M (Product Leadership) are becoming the more appropriate operating model for an age of rapid change.

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