Simplify To Streamline

I recently finished “Process!” by Mike Paton and Lisa Gonzalez; the latest notch in the ever-expanding EOS library catalyzed by the now iconic – Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman (2015). 

Process! Is the long overdue deeper dive into the third component of the EOS model for driving more predictable business outcomes (out of six total). The basic premise: a commitment to great process will set you free. It’s a catchy message that will resonate for leadership and ops professionals charged with building-in more structure, consistency and scalability into their orgs.  

As someone committed to reducing waste and helping companies get to market faster, the reinforcing message is…technology alone is not going to save you. People and fundamentals will. Better said…the right people and the right fundamentals…practiced and executed consistently, relentlessly, day-in day-out. This is what gives our companies a fighting chance at long-term growth and survival. 

Nothing new here, in fact it’s a trite cliche. Still, we see far too many firms lurching from one shiny object to another, jumping into a new tool using the typical top-down command and control approach, investing heavily, building it out, then imposing it on their teams only to find the initiative falls flat, people “turn-off”, many run for the hills just to continue doing what they’ve always done. Call it our instinctual human flight to safety. 

After all – “Change is the hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle, and best at the end.”* The data bears it out. Failed IT projects alone cost the United States $50-$150 Billion in lost revenue and productivity. 17% of IT projects can go so poorly that they can threaten the very existence of the company, according to a PwC study of 10,640 projects. 

More often, the “bottom-up” with intention approach, combined with small, frequent experiments is usually how the broader change ultimately takes hold. Intention + thoughtful planning + respected champions + continuous improvement makes the change happen sooner. 

Process! does have several useful takeaways presented in a simple, accessible and quick-read to help teams jump-start their journey toward more operational consistency.

Some takeaways you may find helpful:  

Great process is really about one thing, making things simple and repeatable. The framework is simple: 

Step #1. Commit to great process throughout your organization. Get past all the myths around the difficulties of building processes into your business.  

Step #2. Identify the handful of core processes that differentiate you from your competition and ensure you consistently live up to your customer promise. 

Step #3. Document and simplify each process (Your simplified SOP Checklists). 

Step #4. Package up your new SOPs and make them easy to find and access.

Step #5. Implement the FBA checklist (Followed-By-All) = Train, measure, manage, and update, rinse & repeat. That’s it. Pretty simple. 

To get started, you can download this simple tool: The Process Documenter to identify and break-down your core processes. 

Once you’ve packaged-up your new SOPs, load them up into the tool of your choice, build the templates for plug-and-play execution. Tools like  Asana, Airtable, Monday, Click-up and others have become ubiquitous for building, automating and managing SOPs and workflows.  

Tip: Enroll your internal process champions and involve your teams early and often. Design a clear adoption, training, and reinforcement plan before you roll-out.  

Once you’ve got the fundamentals in place, leverage your tool stack to automate the time-wasting repetitive tasks bogging down your team. Use AI to enable your team, not replace them. 

I hope this gives you a spark toward starting or ramping up your journey toward excellence in operations. 

Quote of the week: “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? – John Wooden.

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