The greatest businesses see themselves as a network of clearly defined processes. This kind of systems thinking allows managers to solve the right kinds of problems, looking at business units not as separate entities, but parts of a whole. It allows managers to ask the right questions and innovate in ways that are impossible in traditional business thinking. Developing processes is essential to innovation, solving problems and creating value. So here’s how you can develop processes.
Before developing new processes, you should look at existing processes and see what works and what doesn’t work, and how all the business processes relate to each other and the overall business process and organizational goals. Everything is related and everything has to work to help the organization achieve its goals.
Systems thinking is about holistic thinking. So any process has to ultimately help your business achieve its wider goals. Everything is related. Your business needs one clear long-term goal and every other sub-goal must clearly bring the organization closer to achieving its long-term goals, otherwise, you shouldn’t be doing it. Your organization goals will drive everything. So what’s the one thing that your business is obsessed about doing?
They say failing to plan is planning to fail. Well, in order to develop good business processes, you have to put in the time to plan and develop these processes, and thereafter, implement them. This requires a thorough, granular understanding of the business or business segment, and the overall goals of the organization.
It also requires testing and iterations to find the optimal way sequence of things to achieve a goal. Don’t assume that a specific order is best or that a particular stage is essential. In developing a process, you have to be agnostic, and open to the possibility that the best process may defy your expectations. The most revolutionary example of this is how Toyota developed its production system based on innovating with jidoka and Just-in-Time principles. Look at your business with fresh eyes.
Once you have a clear idea about the one thing that your business wants to do, and the areas you need to work on to get there, it becomes much easier to develop processes. For instance, when Toyota developed its production system, it was guided by its desire to make reliable, cheap cars in large volumes. Everything flowed from there. It suggested a focus on speed, and dramatic cost-reductions, and the more Toyota drilled into this simple goal, the clearer their production process became. That process encompassed the entire firm and led to a radically decentralized company where floor managers and their teams could make decisions to optimize production, without everything having to go to management.
So, what you need to do is to use a free flow chart maker to create your first, radical process map. As you develop it, focus on your key goal and understand how each element of the process helps your business achieve its goals. For example, it wouldn’t have made sense for Toyota to have a stage in which leather was hand sewn onto the seats, because this would have violated Toyata’s goal to create inexpensive cars. Your process chart will help you figure out the best system to organize your business.
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