People Like Us …. Build Continuously Better Teams

I owe whatever successes I’ve enjoyed to the men and women who stopped to teach me.

I cannot help but remember some of their pithy teaching points, like Teach your strengths and work on your weaknesses.  

My weakness (among many) is marketing. Seth Godin’s Marketing Seminar is helping me with it.  One of the teaching points is about focusing on who will be interested in what I’m interested in helping with — People Like Us.

 

So here’s my bullet point list, of who ProcessTriage® people are:

People like us build great teams, building members who…

  • Get our core values.
  • Leave whatever they touch better off.
  • Fill every moment with stuff that matters.
  • Know who does and needs what — workflow awareness.
  • Are empathetic and hyper-accountable to each other and our customers.
  • Are effective issue processors and solution triagers.
  • Have each other’s and our customers’ backs.
  • Are high-motor go-to professionals
  • Teach their strengths and improve their weaknesses.
  • Take stuff off their boss’s plate.
  • Live deliberate lives.
  • Bring solutions and welcome better ones.
  • Add something to every person they touch.

People like us build great teams.

The Latest Data on Our Triaging Workshop Satisfactions.

We’ve known for some time why executives sponsor our team triaging workshop, succinctly listed by EOS®  Implementer Jonathan Smith.

  1. The Core ‘Driveshaft’ Process is Unclear
  2. This process is too complex
  3. The process works inconsistently
  4. The process’s lack of clarity is creating chaos
  5. They need stakeholder buy-in and ownership to change it
  6. They are in a lot of pain
  7. They are frustrated and want help

We also know that the highest performing teams are hyper-accountable to each other.  This accountability comes from extremely high situational awareness — they know their process and who’s doing and needing what to meet their responsibilities and expectations.

These participant’s are the sponsor’s own Go-To Experts, who live and breath and sweat and laugh and scream and yell and do the actual work of the process they’ve triaged.  They typically identify about 35 recurring process-related behaviors or events (not people issues) they want stopped.  They triage — sort, not solve these pain points into about 15 to 25 proposed improvements.  If they follow through and implement these proposals, the process improves toward its capability goal.

We close each ProcessTriage® Workshop with an anonymous Participant’s Survey. We ask them to score their satisfactions from 1-to-10, with 10 being the most satisfied.  We want an average of 8 points or better.  We summarize these findings with the triagers’ remarks in a sponsor’s report.

Here are three of the questions and their satisfaction scores from the last 50 workshops.  The sample size is 455 participants (triagers).

 So — if you want to improve your core process team’s situational awareness and member empathy and accountability, we welcome your call.  Rosey @ 913-269-3410.

The Ultimate Thank You Note…

One of Process Triage’s core values is Elevate Someone, Somehow.  Meaning, leave each person we interact with no worse for the moment, while seeking something to add to them and elevate their life.  One does not condescendingly assume everyone lacks something only we can remedy.  It simply means we actively, respectfully listen to them — deliberately think about them.  What do they want and need?  Have we seen someone like them before, where they are at? Have we helped someone like them?  Can we help now — right now?

A couple of years ago I blogged about Jessi Ross at the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles.  PT had the privilege of triaging in the Department of Revenue with several process management teams, including the motor vehicles department’s Drivers’ License management office. Since Kansas, statewide, as very little mass transit, surviving and thriving in Kansas requires access to a vehicle — something city dwellers may not appreciate.  One has to have a vehicle in Kansas, generally speaking. So it’s especially important work.

I received this amazing email from Jessi (shared with permission):

Good Morning friend,

I hope this email finds you well. [Snip] I have accepted and began a new adventure. I am working for American Association of Motor Vehicles Administrators! As I am sure you know, is the hub of all things DMV! I am blessed and thankful for this new opportunity. It is truly a dream come true. [Snip] 

My official job title is Program Director for Driver License Compacts and Reciprocity. My primary focus will be the management of the compacts and agreements that each state uses for uniformity with citations, suspensions, etc. I will also manage the reciprocity agreements, both foreign and domestic. 

I want to thank you Rosey. You believed in me from the beginning. I will never forget the conversation we had one day about my future. That conversation has helped me in so many ways.

If there is anything you need, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Jessica Ross
Driver License Compacts & Reciprocity Program Director

Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators

What I was reminded by Jessi (and her DMV team) is wonderful, self-managed, hyper-accountable teams thrive in the public sector also.  Stereotypes that paint public sector employees as less motivated or less caring about well designed and run business processes are unfair and, well — just ignorant.  The more accurate assumption is these teams are busting their butts with out-of-date technology supported with IT infrastructure with significant technical debt.

There are many Jessi Ross’s in these thankless public sector offices.

A little encouragement can spark greatness.

What’s Your Process’s Triage Profile?

Let’s begin this New Year with something fresh and clean and thoughtful and, maybe, kick-butt useful to our integrators and operations lovers.

Introducing our Process Triage Profile

A Process Triage Profile paints a picture of what your immediate process improvement focus should be, according to your team that triaged the process.

Recall, a Process Point-of-Pain is any recurring event or behavior happening to or in a process that inhibits its performance capability — like quality or volume or speed. When we remove the pain point, the process performs closer to its capability goals.  Process Triaging is all about issue-processing these Pain Points into a Solutions, sorted into one of four types of solutions:

  • Analyze for a root cause if we don’t know the most likely cause enough,
  • Design a best practice method or technology if we don’t have something off-the-shelf that prevents the pain (if we use it!),
  • Train this best practice or technology is it needs reminding, and/or
  • Enforce the best practice with our management operating system if we’ve eliminated the first three solutions.  By enforce, we don’t mean some heavy-handed supervision. We’re just saying we know the cause, have a best practice, and don’t need to train it. We need to focus on execution and doing what we know to do. The execution tactics can involve any aspect of our operating practices in any area.
  • After the solution is selected, we estimate its level of effort.  We call it a Small Now for an action item / task-size deliverable or a Big Now if t’s a larger, project-size effort.
  • After all the Points-of-Pain are triaged, the triage team ranks the proposals by their highest, most capability improving value.
  • Your triage host writes post-triage Implementation Plan, and either schedules and assigns a proposals for immediate pursuit or declares it Not Yet until you free up some resources (which they estimate).

A Process Triage Session is an all-day (typically) facilitated workshop with your process’s experts — the go-to professionals who know and live and breath the process. They’ll generate, typically, 35 to 45 Points-of-Pain and triage them into 18 to 24 solutions — (Analyze “x” for a root cause or, Design, Train, and/or Enforce best practice “x”) .

A team’s triage solutions set that consists of mostly Analyze’s (for root causes) or Design’s (best practices or tools) asserts the process’s best practices or tools need definition.  These improvements should be put in place before asking more of the process.  (Otherwise,  you’ll just create crap faster!).  Here’s what that Process Triage Profile looks like:

Heavy Analysis & Design Best Practice Triage Profile Example.

Heavy Analysis & Design Best Practice Triage Profile Example.

If a team’s proposals are mostly Train or Enforce existing best practices or tools,  then the organization’s operating practices need a closer look.   Practices like hiring and performance accountability. Maybe its resource planning and logistics or process control reporting, and so on. That Process Triage Profile looks like this:

Heave Train & Enforce Best Practices (Ops Excellence) Triage Profile

Heave Train & Enforce Best Practices (Ops Excellence) Triage Profile

These different profiles give the leader an at-a-glance picture of what faces them as they undertake continuous improvements.  They can better manage expectations, understand how fast things can improve.  Triaging helps them recognize if their focus should be on better best practices (the first example) or tuning their operating system (the second example).

We’ll include a Process Improvement Profile with our flagship Process Triage Workshop going forward.

Consider your own core, driveshaft process.  From Bid-to-Cash, or Lead-to-Cash — your customer-facing work. What do you suppose your Process Improvement Profile looks like?

 

Use Triaging to Onboard Executives Faster

Occasionally there is a change in executive leadership after a Process Triage.  Naturally, the triagers wonder if their efforts will be supported, at best, or stalled out or stopped, at worst.

 

Since the process improvement proposals — the Small Now action items and Big Now project-size efforts are identified and prioritized bottoms-up, by the technical expert triagers, a change in senior leadership doesn’t invalidate the triage findings unless the enterprise is fundamentally changing what it must be capable of doing — certainly in the short term.
welcomeonboard

Consider using the triage results to onboard the new leader.  Have the triage team lead this briefing as a individual and team development moment.  First review the process map, then the Process Capability Goal, then the improvement proposals deck.  Have the owner of each action item or project present their proposal and report its progress.

This is a great way to acquaint the new executive with some of their expert front-liners. No doubt the new leader wants some quick wins and establish credibility with your go-to experts. This gives the leader the facts, information, and situational awareness to immediately course correct (unlikely) and maintain the improvements momentum.

Here’s a video clip about this HERE, to explain it.

 

Issue Processing Starts in the Amygdala

Fundamentally, Business Process Triaging is issue processing on steroids. It very structured, very fast, and very focused on the behaviors and events that inhibit an enterprise”s Driveshaft process from sustaining a required level of performance.  That said, issue processing is like a rifle cartridge — the bullet encased in a propellant-filled shell.  The ability to process an issue can be pointed at about anything, but process triaging is the rifle barrel that directs it to the best target.

cartridgeanatomy

In Business Process Triaging, the bullet that obliterates the issue (the target), is of four types — Analyze, Design, Train and/or Enforce Something — typically a best practice or technology.  So far, so good.

So, where do the issues — the targets originate?

We see them as issues in the center of the brain, at the top of the brain stem, in a region called the Amygdala.  This is the seat of memory and emotions, where the brain recognizes something it’s observed before and attaches an emotional response.  If the stimulus is threatening enough, it becomes an issue.  If it’s intense enough, it can spread to the brain stem (Medulla Oblongata) and trigger a fight or flight response.

All that to say, if one wants to engage the analytical powers of the brain to address the issue, we need to move the thought out of the amygdala to the cerebral frontal cortex — to our issue processor.

amygdalatocfc

We do this by asking an amazingly simple question:  “How often does this happen?”  We empower our frontal cortex to seize the issue by its throat by asking it to count it. How many?  How often?  Where?  Quantify it, please.

This is the theory behind why a Process Point-of-Pain, in triaging, is always a measurement of a recurring event or behavior that inhibits a process’s performance.  Why it’s never a resource constraint — we haven’t processed it that far yet.

 

A Simple Way to Calculate Your Brand’s Value

This thing called a BRAND means a lot of things.  And a lot of noise is blasted about regarding how to design them, build them, exploit them — it’s like a discussion about God; there are few things as complex but everybody’s an expert.

Here’s what works for me, being the second son of a cowboy, born and raised with Border Collies, Blue Heelers,  and Australian Shepherds.   My first exposure to the word “brand” was feeling the white-hot branding iron head welded on the end of a fireplace poker, heat radiating onto my face and up my nose and into my eyes. Then the sound of it sizzling the flank of a tied-down calf and the sound of said calf bellowing out in searing pain and seeing its wild-eyed terror. That’s a brand!  Branding

I think our brand is that lingering feeling someone has, down in their lizard-brain after we’ve touched them.  If we branded them correctly, it’s a pleasant feeling that, at its best, excites some sharing, and at least ends all that analysis hassle of the buying process.  When they see us — the branding in our marketing, that residual feeling butterfly kisses their consciousness.  They’ll do business with us when they need us, no analysis needed.

But…. Show me the money!

 

ValueOfBrand

A simple way  know if you have that kind of brand is separate your sales into two piles: the sales you won by out-bound selling activity and the sales you simply took the order with essentially zero selling.  The sales from simple order-taking is the value of your brand.  What’s your share of revenue is brand-driven?

P.S.  And the Sales Process isn’t done until the next sale is simple order taking.

 

What Is the Value of 1st Attempt Success?

A  client sponsored a triage of one of their high-value business processes, one that receives and evaluates eligibility requests for a financial benefit. One triager’s point-of-pain was an observation that 70% of requests required rework — reaching out and contacting the applicant for additional information.  How or why this information was not captured at the first attempt became an improvement to analyze.

But what is the cost of 70% rework?  Inquiring minds want to know. (You can be sure this 70% will be laser-focused fixed now that the team sees it.  To their credit, it’s an all-hands-on-deck effort.  Some of this rework is caused by unverifiable info from applicants — garbage in.)

value-of-first-attempt-resolution_page_1

I suspected it was exponential — at least non-linear, assuming each attempt had the same probability of failure for illustration purposes. Naturally, real data would adjust this accordingly.

What it tells us is you’ll process twice as many requests as you need to when your re-touch rates are 40% or so.  You’re processing three times  as many customer touches at about 70% rework. That’s two-thirds of your resources unavailable do something else!  The chart gets crazy-ugly at failure rates above 70%, by the way.

We call that kind of process failure a dumpster fire.  At 70% rework or customer re-touch, two thirds of your touches are avoidable if your process is designed to deliver a one-and-done customer experience.

The remedy is a blinding flash of the obvious:  Reason-code every failure, sort the volume of these reasons using Pareto rules, resolve them in highest-volume order, and raise first attempt success to something less than 10% for starters.  If automated systems are used to capture the required information, present it list or check boxes, mandatory field captures, use good scan-and-attach tools, and by all means attempt to educate the benefits applicant on what’s needed before attempting. Here’s my spreadsheet.

That’s what first attempt resolution is worth.

Culture is a Current, Not a Wave

Process Triaging is a decision cycle leaders follow to generate purposeful improvement solutions and then select and implement the best of them.

The cycle works when its driven from deep within our leadership philosophy — our culture.  A culture of continuous improvement that is not driven by surface events — by waves.

OceanCurrent

The improvements we find and undertake will shield our enterprises from storms and rough waters.  Triaging is a tactic we apply as rudder adjustments at the helm — minor course corrections.  But the practice of triaging — constantly cycling into the best ideas, keeps us centered in the most productive current.  Something that carries us along in the right direction regardless of the wind and waves.

What reminded me of this was last week’s Process Triage Immersion Workshop Sponsor.  In his opening welcome remarks he announced:

“The executive staff will be taking the improvements you triage today very seriously. After the host’s implementation plan is approved, the selected improvements will be part of our performance review and bonus schedule.”

Think about that.

The triage’s executive sponsor places so much trust and faith in the triaging process, that the CEO and principal staff will hold themselves accountable for improvement proposals nominated and prioritized bottoms-up, by those who live and breath the daily work — before they know what they are!

Here’s a video clip of this triage team ranking their improvement solutions. Notice how the culture created by their executives engages and empowers them.

This company will stay in the right currents.

Their culture is correct and runs deep.

Can Process Triaging Work for Small Teams?

I’ve struggled with how to respond to the many requests for process triage support from entrepreneurs and managers who simply don’t have the budget for our flagship, facilitated workshop (on a napkin here).  The short of it is the process mapping we do in the morning, as a team, creates a powerful end-to-end team identity and awareness that’s key to the triage’s final product. That level of effort takes an outside facilitator, especially if it’s a crisis situation.

Is there a way to triage without the team-created process map?

We think so, if its a very small team of no more than six people who know each other’s work and it’s not a break-fix house-on-fire situation. We’re talking about a generally capable team that welcomes more structure to a deliberate continuous process improvement culture.

With that in mind, I designed a Small Team Process Triage Kit. 

Small Team Process Triage Kit

Small Team Process Triage Kit

The kit contains the information, job aids, and supplies to triage a process without a robust process map.  Similar to our flagship workshop, the host manager presents their Process Capability Goal, then the triage team identifies Points-of-Pain. These pain points are addressed by the team’s nomination of Small Now & Big Now action items and projects, followed by their ranking of the entire set of proposals.  It’s designed to be four-hour team exercise with some pre-work by the host.  The host would still draft and submit their 90+Day Implementation Plan to their sponsor after the exercise.

This kit is only suitable for small teams that know each other’s responsibilities and don’t need more than a sketch of their process — something their manager / host could provide.  It’s not designed for cross-organizational process triaging.

So, if you’re looking for a small team team-builder exercise that delegates and elevates your continuous process improvement efforts — deeper into your team, this kit’s for you.

For now, we’re shipping only a hard copy version that includes a 32 page workbook and the materials necessary to perform the triage, available from our website.