Tips, lessons learned, and observations on triaging.

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.

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.

Catapult your EOS Issues Solving Track with Process Triage

One of Process Triage’s core values with our customers and clients is to Make Touches that Make a Difference.  We listen and look for a moment in each triaging engagement to add something of delightful value, above our expected scope of work.

Sometimes a client touches us back. Like the touch of CEO Tory Schwope  of Schwope Brothers Farms and KAT Nurseries.

Tory’s an EOS Operator, meaning he’s adopted the Entrepreneur Operating System (EOS), introduced by Gino Wickman’s book, Traction.  Tory, a visionary, sponsored a triage and tasked his integrator, Jeff King to host it.  I blogged about their bi-lingual triage team here.  (Visionaries and Integrators, the two C-Suite must-have roles are explained in Gino’s and Mark Winter’s book, Rocket Fuel)

To the point, Jeff was responsible for the 90+Day Post-Triage Implementation Plan.  This plan is the signature-ready deliverable the triage host presents the sponsor to request resources for any Big Now project-size efforts and Small Now task-size actions the organization cannot complete.  Jeff’s plan was, frankly, one of the best I’ve ever seen.

20151110_151719(0)

Process Triage Host Jeff King with his triaged process map (Courtesy Schwope Bros. Farms). 

On a parallel narrative, I’m a Vistage International speaker.  Vistage members benefit from guest speakers on about any topic related to running and growing an enterprise.  It’s a privilege and honor to be on the circuit, noting speakers are not allowed to solicit — it’s a pay it forward opportunity with a very modest honorarium.  It’s my practice to chat with the Vistage group’s chairperson to understand where the group is and how I may best tailor my talk on triaging.  I’m looking for an opportunity to make a touch that matters.  One such chair was Will Hindrickson, in the New London, Connecticut area. Will mentioned his entire chief executive group were EOS operators.  So I read up on EOS, read Traction, and suspected there were synergies between Process Triaging and EOS immediately.

Seeking more info on EOS, I asked two Vistage Chair friends in Kansas City, Tony Lewis and Jeff Hutsell what they knew about EOS.  Turns out Tony’s an EOS Operator himself, and said about half a dozen or so of his members were on EOS, namely Tory Schwope.

So I reached out to Tory, and he touched me back.

He knocked me over.

Just — WOW!

He explained How Process Triage Catapults the EOS Issues Solving Track (video clip here).  In EOS pitch-perfect terms, here’s how process triaging supports EOS-minded leaders.

If you’re interested in EOS, Tory’s a case study success. Consider using an EOS Implementer (Tony Lewis asserts using an implementer/coach is the best practice, and their 90 minute overview is without obligation).  I’m a believer because of the quality of Tory and Jeff’s post-Triage follow through.

If you’ve adopted EOS  or are an EOS implementor (coach), and want to add a Moment that Matters touch in the EOS issues solving track, consider hosting our Process Triage Immersion Workshop. I’m best reached by text or email initially. (I’m focused to only answer cell phone calls from those in my contacts list).

Hat Tip, Tory.

 UPDATE / P.S.  1/30/2016

The Process Triage immersion workshop is usually only one-day long and focused on an enterprise’s core driveshaft process.  It generates a prioritized list of solutions to process points-of-pain. These pain points are recurring events or behaviors, as observed by the hand-picked process expert team who live in the trenches of the process– NOT the C-Suite’ers (who sponsor the triage).  It’s the bottoms-up, bought-in list, not a top-down list you have to sell or direct.  These solutions are, in EOS terms, pre-validated, pre-qualified issues with proposed solutions already nominated — in a “Bring me solutions, not problems” approach.  Process triaging therefore drives the Issue Tracking dimension and value of EOS deeper into the organization, towards front line leaders.  The EOS issue tracking method is, itself, a process that welcomes high quality inputs — high quality issues.  That’s why Tory suggested a triage schedule a few weeks ahead of the quarterly pulse.

Not mentioned in Tory’s kind remarks was the process documentation produced by the triage team (as illustrated in Jeff King’s photo above). You can leverage the triage map into your process documentation.

Rosey

Disclaimer:  The EOS Operating System is a copyright of EOS Worldwide.  ProcessTriage LLC has no commercial relationships with EOS Worldwide.
 
 

 

An Igniteful Question

My rabbi of almost 30 years, a genuine talmid chacham began a lesson saying, ‘Answers are easy, it is the questions that are hard.’  This speaks to the idea that questions are more elemental and full of potential, and in practice, ignite the imagination and inspire us to challenge our limitations.

For example, I like to reward myself after what I think has been a successful day of triaging an enterprise’s expert team. The work is intellectually intoxicating and fulfilling. The quip, ‘I can’t believe someone pays me to do this!’, attributed to the legendary novelist  John MacDonald, fits my feelings.  My at-a-boy is a nice steak at a recommended steak house. (I do not expense anything above my published per diem rate, to be sure).

So the first question is easy enough; “Where is a great steak house?”  The answer typically offers a choice of two or three.  But once seated and menued, the next question is prescient.  It is ignitful — meaning it may ignite and explosion of superb customer service that sets a seriously succulent steak on your table.  Like this bone-in Porterhouse filet at the Silver Fox in Richardson, Texas this week.  (That is NOT Photoshopped!)

 

Silver Fox Porterhouse Filet

 

I asked my server, “What is the steak your chef would most like to serve tonight?”

She blinked, clearly not knowing. So I commanded her (yes, commanded) to go find out.

A few moments later she returned with a spring in her step and answered, ‘Sir, it’s off the menu. It’s a bone-in Porterhouse filet. How would you like it prepared?”

“Medium, thank you, with a side of grilled (brussel) sprouts.”  (It comes with snap peas and mashed potatoes.)

She marched off to the kitchen, having bagged the elephant, so very, very pleased with herself.

She returned much faster than I expected, and placed the beautifully plated work-of-art before me. The fork leaned over to it in anticipation!

And Wow! — was it delicious. Howl-at-the-moon delicious.

So,  I was a few savory fork-fulls from finishing it off, cleansing my palate between bites with a nice Pinot Noir to re-live the blossom of that first bite, when the chef walked up to my table and — grinning ear to ear, asked, “How do you like your steak?  It’s hard to get this cut in the quality we require, so I thought I’d check.”

“It is wonderful!, I replied, mouth half-full.”  Then we small talked for a moment as he was clearly pleased with the effort.

Afterwards, when the server returned with a concluding cup of coffee, she was beside herself that the chef had visited her table.  And he was so pleased.

So I asked her one more question.

“What IF you asked your chef what he or she wanted to create and serve most during your shift, that would want them to go check with a guest — and then suggest it if it seemed fitting?  What would your relationship with this chef grow into? What would your guests think of your service?”

She offered a very cute fist bump, fittingly returned.

So.

What are your questions that ignite the best from others?

 

A Time for Creating Moments That Matter

A casual examination of successful C-Suite leaders confirms they are highly motivated, exceptionally driven individuals — they have big motors. They are also touchers; they reach out to others.  They strike up conversations. They observe.   They pay attention. They recognize wants and needs and things of value. The most entrepreneurial of them commercialize the solutions to these needs and wants.

Yet, a big motor is not enough.  The leaders that captivate us are inspiring. They’re paying attention on a whole different, higher level.

They create moments that matter. SistineTouch

 

They are accessible to sparks of insight, to creative epiphany — to remarkable inspiration.

They fill an infinitely small moment with infinitely great goodness or profoundly great sadness.

They fill the moment.

As I reflect on this Christmastide Season, one assertion of Christianity is an infinitely great and good God filled a small moment in history, considering the short life of The Nazarene, with an infinite potential for good if one would model one’s life accordingly.

To love our neighbors as ourselves.

To not just avoid the murder another human being, but to avoid even anger.

To not just avoid the illicit sexual relation, but avoid the immodest imagination of it.

To not just avoid stealing, but add to others — the essence of commercial and charitable enterprise.

To find and make and fill moments that matter.

Let’s try that, shall we?