Process Improvement
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The process improvement methodology used by Inflection Points is a robust combination of proven techniques for implementing organizational change in a flexible, rapid and effective manner. It is based on "lean manufacturing" principles to identify various forms of waste in existing processes -- then systematically remove them. The methodology is also flexible enough to be used with a group of people to create a new process or standardize multiple versions of the same process. The methods also work extremely well with paper or even paperless processes where there are sequential or branching work steps with an auditable work flow.
A typical process improvement effort consists of four defined phases
bulletThe Scan
bulletThe Plan
bulletFollow Up
bulleta one day workshop which defines the process scope and boundaries
bulletincludes a high level process walk-through and mapping
bulletidentifies organizational impacts and constraints
bulletidentifies and clarifies process sponsor, owner and other stakeholder roles
bulletresults in a "go/no-go" decision
bulleta one day workshop, usually following the Scan day
bulletsets improvement targets for the workshop
bulletidentifies critical success factors
bulletidentifies who needs to be in the workshop and why
bulletcreates an action plan for getting ready for the workshop
bulletan intensive, five day workshop involving the (10-15) people who actually perform the work (and/or represent different functions which affect the work product)
bulletusually follows the Scan/Plan by 3-4 weeks
bulletincludes detailed process mapping, with process metrics defined
bulletincludes team building and education about process improvement
bulletis tailored to the organizational context, based on the Scan and Plan days
bulletis hands-on and action-oriented, so that by the conclusion of the workshop, the new process is in place and there's "no going back"
bulletfeatures full communication about what is going on in the workshop to others who may be impacted by the workshop results
bulletfeatures management "read out" sessions to ensure sponsor direction and commitment
bulletincludes follow-up action planning
bulletincludes tracking and completion of the action plans created during the workshop
Although this methodology is time-intensive, it is also highly participative -- the benefit being that the people who work the process are the ones changing it and therefore have total ownership in making it work. This single most important principle of organizational change: namely, that people tend to support that which they help create.
This also means that the role of Inflection Points is to facilitate the workshop participants to improve the process -- not to come in with an expert, benchmark study of how similar processes operate in other organizational contexts. It is possible, of course, to incorporate "best practice" thinking in the redesign phase, but people in your organization make the adaptation based on their working knowledge of the company.
People also frequently ask whether the workshop can be done in 3 or 4 days. Sometimes this is possible, but usually only after doing several workshops in one organization -- i.e., after people "learn" how the process improvement methodology works. The methodology also has a built-in bias to get results now. Many attempts at process improvement focus on getting 90% of all possible gains, but they take 6 to 9 months to implement because they rely on task forces that are not dedicated 100% of the time. The approach Inflection Points uses is much more pragmatic, aiming for 40-50% of all potential gains, but doing it now. When the right people are focused 100% on resolving issues and removing roadblocks, it's amazing what they can do by taking those 1 or 2 extra days and working in real time. Additional improvements can be captured in future workshops.

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This page last modified on 04/12/10