It’s January — the time when we hear a whole lot of the phrase “new year, new me.” Around this we all announce our determination to begin eating healthier, actually sticking to our workout plan, and a bunch of other New Year’s resolutions, both personal and professional.
Having self-improvement goals certainly is a good thing for any person or organization and the beginning of a new year is a great time to do so.
In fact, one popular professional resolution I often hear surrounds process improvement. Organizations will often ask themselves the question, “How can we do this particular process better for the upcoming year?” And while this is an admirable — and crucial — self-reflection for businesses to undergo, it can lead to changes in a process that can actually become disruptive to the business, and make operations inefficient.
The good news is you can avoid this and be well on your way to more efficient processes. But how?
By promising me you’ll keep this one New Year’s resolution: take a balanced approach. Oftentimes, companies focus all of their efforts on just one step of their process, since it’s the weakest performing area. But every process has several moving parts, they are all interconnected (often interdependent) and they all need to be examined.
The common mistake many companies make is that once they identify an area of improvement, they attempt to fix it in isolation. The output of one step is the input of another. Dramatically improving a step, only to have the increased volume of output from that step overwhelm the input of the next step just shifts the bottleneck instead of creating overall productivity gains and real optimization. You need to take a balanced approach – don’t change one part without changing a corresponding part. A great example of this is with the marketing and sales demand funnel. Fixing an over-qualification at one of the earlier stages might increase the throughput of that stage. But if the business functions who receive those leads at later stages aren’t prepared to alter business rules and process to accommodate for an increase in volume or lower quality leads, then ultimately later conversion steps, such as turning those leads into closed won deals, will suffer. This will decrease your overall efficiency and revenue as a result!
By sticking to this New Year’s resolution and remaining balanced in your approach, your process improvement strategy can be on its way to actually becoming more efficient. I wish we could apply the same tip to our health and weight loss goals!