5 Steps to Business Process Improvement

elephant and baby elephant
Whenever we're asked by clients to explain our approach to Business Process Improvement or Re-Engineering, we invariably begin by telling the parable of the "Nine Blind Men and the Elephant." Here it is:

Nine blind men surround an elephant. Each is grabbing the elephant in a different place. Someone asks each of the blind men in turn "What's an elephant like?" The blind man holding the elephant's tail says, "An elephant is like a rope." The man holding one of the elephant's ears replies, "An elephant is flat, like a pancake." Yet a third blind man, with his arms wrapped around one of the elephant's legs, responds, "An elephant is shaped like the trunk of a tree."

And so on.

The point of the parable is simply this: Each of these men is right -- for his part of the elephant. Yet, in the more important, holistic sense of accurately describing what an elephant is really
, every one of them is ultimately very wrong.

Seeing the "Whole Elephant"
In our view, this parable perfectly mirrors what life is like for so many people who manage a piece of an important business process. All too often, although they are acutely aware of their part of a given process -- the part they "touch" -- they are "blind" to its other pieces and, therefore, completely unaware of what the whole process really looks like. Without this ability to
see "the whole elephant," as it were, they also can't ever properly understand how what they do affects this important process or others involved in it. Given this reality, is it any wonder, then,
that so many of our business processes are sub-optimized and so much less effective and efficient than they could be?

The Power of Business Process Improvement
The great quality guru, W. Edwards Deming once declared, "A bad process will beat a good person every time." The power of BPI is its ability to provide all the "good people" who touch a given process with the chance to see the "bad process" -- often for the first time -- as a complete whole. Just consider the motivation that results when you empower well-intentioned people to fix something that may well have been making their lives difficult for a long time.

Getting the "Whole System" in the Room
Here, then, are some basic steps to follow to implement an effective BPI approach that we've used successfully with clients for years:

1. Carefully and accurately define the scope of the process you're trying to improve by identifying clear process "start" and "end" points. This ensures everyone knows the limits of the "playing field.”

2. Identify the key individuals who make the process work from start to finish. This will almost always, by definition, be a cross-functional group. And that's good, since it ensures that you break through "silos" in your organization.

3. Now, get "the whole system in the room." In other words, announce that your crossfunctional group of process owners is a team that you're empowering to analyze and make recommendations for improving the whole process.

4. Next, if your organization doesn't have any process-mapping expertise resident internally, you may want to seek. You'll want to provide your team with someone who can help them to a) accurately map their process, b) identify areas of inefficiency, wait times, "loop-backs," etc. and c) formulate recommendations for improvement.

5. Once your team has created their "process improvement plan," you'll need to give them the support -- "air cover" -- they'll need to make required changes and ensure that these
changes really "stick" in your company.

The Payoff of Effective BPI
The ultimate goal of any BPI effort is significant and quantifiable performance improvement for your business and your customers. But it's also important not to forget or understate the very significant and lasting impact that effective process improvement can have on your organization and business culture as well. So break down the barriers between your "good people." Give them the chance to take their "blinders" off and go to work on the whole process that surrounds them.

Rebecca Rosario is a business process improvement expert and is available to help you and your business become more effective, call Rebecca today, 9898 9221 to find out more.

Article sourced and edited from Huffington Post

An interview with Adrian Basso [PBS radio]

An interview between Adrian Basso [PBS radio] & Rebecca Rosario

Since 1979, community broadcaster PBS 106.7FM has been an integral player in Melbourne’s diverse music community – with more than 80 specialist music programs ranging from soul to garage to country to jazz – PBS is dedicated to nurturing, inspiring and championing Melbourne’s diverse music community.
PBS matters because we support musicians and artists from the ground up. We are passionately committed to seeking out, discovering and presenting diverse and independent music. Our announcers are music-loving folk who volunteer their energy, music knowledge and vast record collections to prepare in-depth, specialist, music-centric programs. Every announcer has complete autonomy over what they play. Their programs are a reflection of their ever-evolving musical tastes, enthusiasms and discoveries – a musical journey that is shared intimately with the audience.
The station is run by more than 400 dedicated volunteers and a small team of professional staff.
With 250,000 weekly listeners across Melbourne, PBS depends on its loyal community to support the station’s activities through financial memberships and donations as well as sponsorship. This allows us to pursue our shared vision with integrity and independence
We sat down with PBS General Manager, Adrian Basso to learn more about this unique business.

1. How did you get involved with PBS FM?
In 1998 I started work at another community station 3MBS as a book-keeper and caught the community radio bug - I’ve never looked back. I started at PBS at the start of 2007 as General Manager. PBS is a community radio station where music is the focus, in all of its variety.

2. What makes this radio station so special?
The people and music – there is a variety in both. Community radio is largely about passion - we have over 400 volunteers who do things like announcing (behind the mic), reception, events and much more. Music is also obviously a big element at PBS where we promote and nurture music of all genres – jazz, blues, rock, metal and so on. We play music that is crafted and made with love. No McDonalds music at PBS, but lots of gems and other rarities

3. What aspect of the business are you most passionate about?
We give a voice to those who would not be heard on mainstream media. Radio run by the community, for the community. The media aspect is also very interesting in a time of much upheaval in that medium

4. What was the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced while at PBS?
Every day is different, which is part of the attraction of working here. One example, which isn’t funny or strange, but more memorable is when we had all our telecommunication physically cut last year (removing a tree), which was stressful, but we kept on broadcasting on FM. We had no phones, no Internet, but stayed on air while we did our best to get basic services running. We are ready for next time…fingers crossed.

5. What has challenged you the most in this business?
Keeping everyone on the same page and happy.

Then there is the money…we are pretty independent and not reliant on government funding. While writing this, it’s day one of our main fundraiser of the year where we ask listeners to stump up for the station by becoming a member.

6.Tell me about a memorable client you have gotten to know while working at PBS?
There are many eccentric people both in community radio and the music industry. I might incriminate myself if I go too much into detail…

7. What do you do when you are not working?
I am also the President of the peak body of community radio, so that takes up plenty of time as well. I have a family with two young children and like to hang out with them as much as possible. Food is a big thing in our family, as well as music and radio.

We would like to thank Adrian for sharing this story.

Effective ways for you to attract the right talent to your business

Issues and opportunities for Small & Medium Sized Businesses (SME’s) 
Small and Medium sized companies may face a number of disadvantages in trying to lure such talent.
For one, their pockets typically aren’t as deep as publicly run corporations. One of the more pressing talent challenges closely held companies could face is making connections between candidates and openings in tough-to-fill jobs.

Almost two-thirds of the respondents in Deloitte’s mid-market survey agreed that “it is difficult for us to find new employees with the skills and education to meet the needs of our business.” One in five reported that skills shortages are suppressing their company’s growth.

Smaller companies may face a number of disadvantages in trying to lure such talent. For one, their pockets typically aren’t as deep as public corporations. In addition, because of their smaller HR staffs, they sometimes tend to lack the capabilities and organizational infrastructure needed to be both generalists and talent experts. With fewer resources at their disposal, HR leaders at privately held companies can feel like their “want list” is a mile long, making it tough to pick a starting point.

For some sought-after talent, small or mid-market companies may not appear on the surface as appealing as working for a high-profile corporation. A lack of clarity around the value proposition of working for a mid-sized business can make it more challenging to land skilled workers who are in hot demand.

Training is another area where, despite recent inroads, SME’s sometimes tend to underinvest. Many owners at small and medium-sized businesses hamstring their HR departments by their belief that leaders are born and not made, only to see promising young leaders leave for greener pastures where their development prospects are clear and supported.

To attract the right talent in this environment, you need something that differentiates you as an employer.

In dealing with these challenges, SME’s potentially have a leg-up on the competition because they have inherent traits that job-seekers look for: access to leaders, an entrepreneurial culture, and opportunities for advancement. But they should also be more proactive on a number of fronts to attract and retain the talent they need in today’s competitive marketplace.

Decide what you’re going to be good at from a talent perspective and own it.

To attract the right talent in this environment, you need something that differentiates you as an employer. This need could elevate talent management out of the realm of tactics and into strategy-setting. Think about the markets you’re competing in and what your company is doing to differentiate itself in those markets to help shape them. Once you know that, the next logical step is to identify the kinds of people that are going to help you develop and exploit that advantage.

For example, your company is looking to make a mark on its industry through financial analysis and strong client relationships. Recognizing this can help focus hiring efforts and associated budgets on finding people who can connect with customers and manage opportunities and risks.

Spot potential and grow it fast.

Successful companies drive leaders at all levels of the organization, and when one of these critical people walks out the door, it can force the company to lose its focus as it deals with the disruption.

Treat your workforce as the growth engine of your business. Identify future leaders throughout the company and spend the time and effort to develop them. In-house training is one way companies can make reasonably certain that promising employees feel valued. In fact, in Deloitte’ mid-market survey, nearly two-thirds of the executives cited traditional internal training and development as the best way to cultivate future leaders, and covering the cost – in whole or in part – of external skills training and development was the second most-popular approach.

Here’s another thing: if one of these future leaders comes to you announcing a job offer from another employer, engage them in a conversation about their career ambitions. Many family-run businesses, in particular, tend to fall into a “loyalty trap,” where they may feel like any employee actively looking for a job elsewhere is being disloyal to the company. You should create an open working environment where your workers feel like they can come to you and start a career conversation. In that sense, “I’m leaving” should be a career pathway as opposed to a closed door. Once you have that kind of talk with one worker, others will likely be more forthcoming about their own feelings and may be a lot easier to retain than those who remain silent.

Compete on issues other than compensation

It is not about being the top payer in your field. You want to be competitive without going overboard.

Instead, make your workplace “simply irresistible.” The companies that do the best job at engaging employees - and keeping them around – tend to do five things really well. For one, they provide meaningful work, along with the autonomy employees need to be creative and perform well. Second, they are run by effective management teams that value coaching and feedback, and help their employees slow down and appreciate how they are contributing to the big picture. Third, successful employers offer growth opportunities, enabling people to move from job to job without fear of failure. Fourth is an inclusive, flexible, and fun environment; not every company needs to offer ping pong and free food, but there are plenty of things companies can do to treat their people well. Finally, employees want to work for leaders they can trust and who have a mission and a set of values that they can appreciate and look to emulate.

It’s also important for companies in expansion mode to keep their work processes simple. Growing companies can have a tendency to add layers of oversight and complexity, whether it’s in the form of additional meetings, manager check-offs, or some other layer of bureaucracy. Resist this. Avoid over-complicating your processes, and your employees will thank you for it.

If you’re going to increase someone’s salary, consider your HR leader.

Companies can save money over the long term by making smarter talent investments and freeing up other leaders to focus on growing the business. Instead of an operator or order taker, you should consider hiring a talent strategist who is going to help you grow the business with the right talent behind it. That takes special skills, including the ability to make the company’s value proposition “sing” in the market, to forecast the kinds of capabilities the organization is likely going need to add in the future, and to develop new ways to reach prospective employees.

As mid-market leaders ponder their talent strategy for 2015, they should be thinking of taking advantage of these inherent advantages by asking themselves the following questions:
• Is our talent strategy aligned with our business strategy?
• Are we doing enough to cultivate the next generation of leaders and keep them engaged?
• Are our managers equipped to manage and develop world-class talent for the long term?
• Are we offering the right kinds of work/life incentives to land the right talent without offering them the biggest paycheck?
• Is our HR leadership thinking strategically about our business needs, in addition to running the day-to-day operations of HR (so the business doesn’t have to)?

For even more information please click the links below:
Continue reading - http://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/deloitte-growth-enterprise-services/articles/private-company-issues-and-opportunities.html?nc=1?id=us:em:na:eng:dges:030515?

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