• Audrey Hametner

Top Tips to Ensure that Process Does Not Determine or Hinder Progress

There have been many articles written on the dangers of companies growing too quickly, without sufficient processes in place to safeguard the bottom line; growth is good, but ensure that you protect your cash flow and EBIT, from unforeseen pressures on your profitability. However, the opposite can be just as dangerous; having too many processes in place that are rigid and not regularly updated can be equally harmful to long-term business success. It can demotivate employees, slow deliverables and make the company inefficient.

Here are our top tips for ensuring that your progress strategy does exactly what it should: increase profitability, keep information flows fluid, and create good governance practices to drive progress and innovation within the organization.

We know that, structuring your company's operations to withstand risk and demonstrate solid governance is challenging. You may well face the dichotomy of becoming a victim to your successful progress strategy, if the sensible processes you took such care to put in place become obsolete or lacks agility.

#1 Keep Your Strategy Agile

A one, three or five-year business plan is not a done deal. It is a constantly evolving asset, and your SLT (Senior Leadership Team)’s role is to understand changes to your business environment and industry, and to adjust strategy accordingly. This is where having strong corporate governance in place can help drive a culture of challenge, with constant review of the clear and transparent set of internal procedures and policies that determine how your company is directed.

Based on recent market research, Mckinsey & Company describes 5 trademarks of agile organizations:

· Shared Purpose and Vision (with actionable strategic guidance)

· Network of empowered teams

· Rapid decision and learning cycles

· Dynamic people model that ignites passion

· Next-generation enabling technology

A great way to do this is to align with your SLT to ensure that trends and changes are being discussed, documented, and to set aside time quarterly to analyse this as a group. Discuss pain-points and highlight new risks on the horizon. Sharing knowledge and insights is an effective way of training your leadership and keeping your business agile at the same time. This should be done systematically, and with structured time so the leadership team can plan and show up, understanding that this exercise is of utmost importance to the organization and its survival.

#2 Balance Progress and Process

As a young start-up with a small team, it’s easy to organize information, communicate effectively, and execute tasks, so formal processes aren’t seen as important. When the company grows, processes become essential to maintain pace, and transparency. However, if not thoughtfully implemented, they can have the opposite effect and slow velocity to a grinding halt. Finding balance is key, and implementing agile processes from Day 1 helps to ensure scalability.

#3 Involve your People

It is key to get your teams involved, and enstill an inclusive culture that prides accomplishment and an enabling environment. During growth, this can be tricky, however, by providing ongoing, forward-looking feedback and leveraging peer feedback, it’s easier to keep everyone on the same page.

Many companies do the right thing, through implementing accountable performance management systems. However, employees and managers often perceive performance management as bureaucratic, costly and of low value. According to a recent Gartner report, 96% of managers are dissatisfied with their organization’s current performance management practices.

Understand your current and future employee base. Each may require different approaches. For example, research shows that millennials expect real-time goals, employee empowerment and regular, timely feedback. If they don’t get the feeling that they can develop as a professional, or if they feel that their efforts are not appreciated, they’re likely to leave, which can deprive your organization of bright, young talent.

#4 Remove Low-Value Process Steps

When you’re obliged to do something that delivers no visible value, this prevents the employee and ultimately the organization from delivering true value. Nearly every business process generates waste—muda in Japanese—meaning any activity that doesn’t provide value to the customer.

One activity that Lean practitioners use is to break down workplace processes into categories of Value Added, Non-Value Added, and Necessary Non-Value Added. This helps to identify which activities are necessary, and which are simply wasting valuable resources.

For a simple example of a lean process, think of in-store or in-clinic registration. Some companies still ask you to fill out a form when registering once. This requires a member of staff to then either scan or retype the document. Companies with lean processes may offer an e-form via I-pad or app, so that the data is keyed once and only.

Summary

Businesses, divisions, and departments are interconnected, and the impact of each can be a key driver to another. Now more than ever, lean, and robust structures can protect the future of your company.

In our current environment of swift process change, the difference between those that survive and businesses that fail, is resilience in process management.

At THG Advisory, we work with clients to ensure strategy drives capability, and process helps rather than hinders progress.

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