Part Two: Dewan’s Opinion
by Dewan Simon
For those of us that have seen, been a part of, or helped create high performing companies for decades the one thing that is often down played is the role of “Leadership” in the new way of working. We can’t use a shotgun approach at blaming “Process” for all the woes of today’s under-performing companies.
The title of the article “5 Ways Process is Killing Your Productivity” is misleading. When you read the subtitle beneath it it talks about the impact of the procedural shortcomings in supporting the process. When you read through “Here are the five ways process can kill production:” It leads you to believe that these are process related issues when they are actually separate areas of focus that should fall under the topic of “Effective Leadership.” Last time I checked, these five areas of focus fell under “Leadership Development” and not “Process Improvement”. If I re-title these 5 elements to fit the description of what was written then it becomes more prevalent that this article is misleading in pointing the finger at process. Let’s take a look: 1) Empowering others 2) Leading Others 3) Meeting Etiquette and protocol 4) Creating a Clear Vision and 5) Talent and Idea Creation. These are leadership opportunities not process opportunities.
This article is written in a tone that criticizes the idea of “Process and Standardization” and simultaneously blames “meetings” for poor productivity. If you have standardized and repeatable process that prevent failure and you have highly effective and efficient meetings to discuss only those things that need immediate action then you quickly realize that you have created more available time and not less. The elephant in the room that this article attempts to cloak is power of visible metrics, score cards, and dashboards. If you make the data and information visible in the work areas and keep them updated then you don’t have to attend meetings to discuss the wins, they are visible to the naked eye. The bottom line is simply this:
New Process + Old Behavior = Old Results or worse.
Let’s look at the math. If the old behavior has a negative ( – x2) impact and is not changed, and a new process that brings positive (+ x1) impact is implemented, the sum of both components could still prevent us from achieving the target results. And the world will see the lack of performance as a failure due to process when the failure is due to behavior.
New Process + New Behavior = New Results
But very few companies want help with the behavior piece. Leaders don’t like to be told their leadership is causing the results. It is much easier to blame the process. Where we have had success, leaders have adjusted to support the new way of working. Where we have struggled, leaders have kept their same style of working and leading which is contrary to the required needs to enable the New Process to perform at optimal capability.
I leave with one final thought I’d like to share. The article stated, “After McNerney’s departure for Boeing in 2005–just four years after joining the company–3M began to reevaluate Six Sigma. In addition to the friction it caused among staff, its long-term growth potential appeared compromised and there were concerns that 3M had become ‘a less creative company…a vitally important issue for a company whose very identity is built on innovation’. I received this as saying innovation was being stifled by process, when if used correctly, process should be driving innovation and creating the next generation of evolution based on the platform of what the company has mastered while still seeking to develop in unknown space. You don’t have to abandon what you do well to open up other doors. You just have to balance the “proven and the new” to create competitive advantage. Very few have mastered the art of managing and maintaining the integrity of delivering what no one else could while still creating in blue space.